At the Industrial Court on Thursday, before his Honor Mr. Justice Buchanan, J Buckley, of the Flagstaff Hotel, Frank- lin-street, builders' laborer; F. Riley, of Rose-street, Henley Park, builders' laborer; W. Price, of Chicago Blocks, Islington, builders' laborer; and C. Amber, Beulah-road, Norwood, builders' laborer, were charged, on the information of Her- bert Gordon Jenkinson, of Glenelg, resi- dent engineer of the South Australian Reinforced Concrete Company, with hav- ing, at Adelaide, on divers dates between May 21 and June 6, unlawfully taken part in a strike, contrary to the provision of the Industrial Arbitration Act of 1912. Each of the defendants pleaded not
guilty. A. Hearne, of North Adelaide; M. Muggleton, of Gouger-street; M. Joyce, of William-street, Norwood: S. Noble, of Payneham; and F. Cox, builders' laborers, pleaded not guilty to a similar charge, also on the information of H. G. Jen- kinson, the dates being between May 25 and June 6. Summonses had been taken out against some other men, but as there was no evidence that these had been served the charges were not
James Fagg, of Wright-street, and Ernest Slater, of Noarlunga, builders' laborers, pleaded not guilty to a charge of having on divers dates between June 8 and June l8, at Noarlunga, taken part in a
John Treasure Matthews, of California street, State Secretary of the Australian Builders' Laborers' Federation, was charged with having aided and abetted the above defendents in the doing of a thing in the nature of a strike. He pleaded not guilty.
Mr. S. H. Skipper, instructed by Messrs. Glynn, Parsons, & McEwin, appeared to prosecute, and Mr. W. J. Denny repre-
sented the defendants.
Mr. Denny applied for an adjournment of the hearing till Tuesday next. He stated that he had only received instruc- tions in respect to the matter on the pre- vious day. Although the information against the secretary of the union was laid on June 9, the summons was not served till June 17. The charges extended over a wide period, and it would be neces- sary to investigate allegations made in re- gard to acts performed on several dates, and he would require some time to frame his defence. The position was different from that which usually existed in arbitra- tion cases, as there were two determina- tions, one by the Federal Court and the other a State award. The men thought that they were entitled to the Federal award, and they believed that they would be acting wrongly if they worked on less favorable terms than that provided. Of course, that was a question of law, which that court would decide. Some employers were paying the Federal rate of wages, but others were not. One reason why he urged the court to grant an adjournment was that the Federal president and sec- retary were expected to arrive in Adelaide with the object of seeing if something could not be done in respect to the action, and he thought it would be better to wait until these officials were in the city.
Mr. Skipper, in opposing the application for an adjournment, said there had been ample notice of the trial. The men were responsible for the existence of two diffe- rent awards. Several large buildings were being hung up as the result of the strike, and in the interest of the public the mat- ter ought to be settled as speedily as pos- sible.
The President said he would grant an adjournment till 2 o'clock that afternoon. On resuming at 2 o'clock, the case
against Buckley, Riley, Price, and Amber was proceeded with.
Opening by Counsel.
Mr. Skipper, in his opening address, said
the South Australian Reinforced Concrete Company, which had their registered of- fices at Bowman's Buildings, had several important contracts in hand when the men knocked off work. Amongst these were Verco's buildings, a large building for Cornells, a ferro-cement tank at Noar- lunga, and some works at Henley Beach and the Grange. They employed a con-
siderable number of men, in addition to the laborers. There were carpenters and plasterers. Seven laborers were employed at Verco's buildings at the time of the
strike, and four of them were the defen- dants in the present case. He could not imagine a clearer case of a strike - and he thought the court would agree with him when the evidence had been tendered - than that which was the subject of the present proceedings. The men had made demands, and when these were not con- ceded they declined to return to work. He submitted that the evidence would furnish convincing proof that the Builders' Labo- rers' Federation, acting through its secre- tary, had been largely responsible for the
whole trouble. He would show that Mat- thews had been seen in conference with the men, and that he had read from a document to them. It was true that a notice of one hour had been given in a sense, but be contended that was not a valid notice that the men intended to ter- minate their engagement, but was used as a subterfuge to endeavor to coerce the company to grant the terms asked for. The company had been placed in a diffi- cult position, as they had several large works on hand, and the other men had
been thrown out of employment. He felt, in the circumstances, that if the President of the court found, as he had no doubt he would find, that the acts complained of did constitute a strike, he must ask that sub- stantial penalties should be imposed. The time had gone by, he submitted, for the exercise of leniency. Hitherto light fines had been imposed for breaches of the in- dustrial legislation, but it was now seen that these did not have the effect of de- terring men from engaging illegally in acts of the nature of a strike.
William Robson, carpenter, of Beulah road, Norwood, deposed that on May 20 he was foreman at Verco's buildings. He had seven men working under him. At about 7.20 in the morning of May 20, the witness saw Matthews in front of the building talking to the laborers. At half past 7 he left, and the men started work. Just after starting Buckley saw the wit- ness and told him that Matthews had been round and told him what time they ought to start and what time they ought to knock off according to the Federal award. He said Matthews had advised them that they should work eight hours a day in- stead of eight and three-quarters as they had been working. When dinner time came they did not start work again till 1 o'clock, instead of a quarter to 1 as had been customary. They also knocked off at half-past 4 instead of 5 o'clock. On the following day they started at half-past 7. Price spoke to the witness, and said they were going to start at half-past 7, take an hour for dinner, and knock off at
half-past 4. The other defendants were within hearing distance. The witness, who had no doubt that they did hear, said they could do as they liked, but whatever hours they worked they would be paid for, and no more. At about 9 o'clock the wit- ness saw Matthews standing at the front of the building. Buckley and Riley were talking to him. Matthews had a paper in his hand, from which he was reading. The witness went to Buckley and Riley, and told them they must go on with their work. He added if they wanted to knock off they could knock off. Both men went back to the job and each gave an hour's notice, and Matthews called the witness, and read from the paper which he still had in his hand. He said - "You are
going to have trouble with the laborers if you do not comply with the Federal award." Riley and Buckley worked till 12 o'clock and then knocked off. At a quarter past 12 the witness saw Matthews again talking to the men and reading to them. There were about ten or a dozen men listening to him, including Price, Am- ber, Riley, and Buckley, and some carpen- ters. Price and Amber did not start work again till 1 o'clock. The other men on the job started at a quarter to 1. Riley and Buckley did not start at all that af- ternoon. Before starting Amber and Price went to the witness, and Price said, "We'll start work, but as soon as the floor is finished we'll knock off.'' Amber also said they would knock off as soon as they had finished the floor they were working on. The witness said "All right." At about half-past 2 the two men left the job and as the job could not go on without the four men who had knocked off the work was stopped. None of the four defendants had returned to work. Each of the four men had told the wit- ness that he was a member of the Austra- lian Builders' Laborers' Federation. They had not been able to proceed with
the work since the men left.
By Mr. Denny - The men had told the witness on several occasions that they were members of the federation. Riley had told him once or twice that he was a member, but the witness knew that he was a member before he was employed on the job. It was customary in the trade to give an hour's notice when leav- ing a job. The witness understood from the men that they wanted to work under
the Federal Arbitration Court's award. They wanted forty-four hours instead of forty-eight. The witness said to all four men. "If you want to knock off you can knock off." That was about an hour before they left They replied, "All right." The witness was employed by the South Australian Reinforced Concrete Company. He did not know whether or not there were any other large em- ployers in Adelaide who were not paying the Federal award rates. He had heard that some others were paying it. He had heard Mr. Emmett say he was paying that rate to his hod-carriers.
Herbert Gordon Jenkinson, resident
engineer of the South Australian Rein- forced Concrete Company, said he had a communication with Matthews over the telephone on May 20. Matthews said, "Probably you know that there is trouble with your men." The witness suggested that Matthews should go and see him, and an appointment was made for the following morning. When the interview took place Matthews said, "Are your people prepared to pay the rates men- tioned in the Federal award?" The wit- ness replied, "No, we were not cited in
the plaint, and the award does not bind us in any way. Our men are working under the State award." Matthews asked
if the company was not practically the same as the reinforced company in Mel- bourne, which was cited in the claim. The witness said it was not. The two companies were quite separate legally, although some of the people in it were the same. Matthews replied that he would take steps to have the company cited at the earliest opportunity, and asked if they would pay the Federal rates
in the meantime. To this the witness said, "No. If the men are discontented with their rates of pay they should bring the matter before the State court." Mat-
thews said the members of the Builders'
Federation would not work for less than
the award rates. The witness replied he was not concerned with what the members of the federation said they
would not work for. He wanted the men to keep within the law. It was not so much a question of the extra pay as of doing things in a constitutional way. Mat- thews said, "I will tell the men that you are not prepared to pay the award rates." The witness said. "Are you going to call the men out?" and Mat-
thews said, "No. I will not coerce the men in any way. I will simply let them know what the rates are." The witness said, "I strongly advise you to bring the matter before the State Industrial Court. That is the right and proper way." Mat- thews replied, "I suppose there is nothing more to say. You may be sure you will be cited before long." The inter- view then closed. On May 27 the wit- ness met two employes - Amber and Noble - at his office. John Gibson, the acting managing director of the company, was present. Amber said, "We have come to talk over matters with you. We understand you are not prepared to pay the Federal award rates?" Gibson said. 'I am very glad to have the oppor- tunity of talking over matters with you. In taking the step you have done you have been misled. You men are work- ing under the State award, and the re- cent Federal award has nothing to do with you whatever." Amber said, "We were led to believe that we were en- titled to the Federal award rates, but we see now that we have been mis- taken." Gibson said, "Let me tell you that we have taken on a number of con- tracts, basing our tenders on the State award rates, and if we were to pay the rates you are now demanding we would make large losses on the current contracts which it would be impossible to recoup." Amber said, "Yes, that is quite right." Gibson said, "Did Mat- thews inform you that we were not cited m the plaint? Amber replied that Mat- thews had told them that Gibson main- tained that the company was not cited, but that he had not explained matters very clearly. Gibson said, "Did Matthews tell you to strike?" Amber replied, "No: but he read out the terms to us, and we took that as being equal to an order
to cease work if those rates were not
conceded." Gibson told them that the best course they could pursue was to re- turn to work and he would bring the whole matter of the rates of pay before the local authorities. He also said to Noble, "What caused you to cease work?" Noble replied, "I was working on Cor- nell's building when I heard some one in the street call out, 'Why don't you pull out? Be men.' I thought there was nothing else for me to do but cease work." Amber said, "We would like to put your proposal before the rest of the men." Gibson said. "Certainly. Do so by all means, and let us know in the morning how mat- ters stand." At about 11 o'clock the fol- lowing morning the witness and Gibson saw Amber and Noble. Amber told them that the men would like him to make the same proposals to them personally as he had made to the two men on the previous day. Gibson said he would be pleased to do so, and an appointment was made for the men to see Gibson and the witness the same afternoon. About 12 men, including the four defendants, attended. Gibson ad- dressed the men and said:- "I want to make the relative positions of you and our- selves quite clear in this matter. I do not know whether you are aware or not, but let me tell you that we were not cited in the recent builders' laborers' case before the Federal Arbitration Court, and the award rates have nothing to do with us. You are not entitled to the rates of pay mentioned therein. In striking you have placed yourselves outside the law, and you are liable to be fined. We do not wish, to proceed to such a length at this junc- ture. What we advise is that you all return to work. As I have already men- tioned to Amber and Noble, we will under- take to bring the whole matter before the local Industrial Court. We quite appre- ciate the anomalous position due to having two rates of pay for the same class of work in the same town, and perhaps on the same job. Therefore we are very friendly to- wards you in this matter. If you all go back to work the matter will be thrashed out before the President of the State In- dustrial Court. Such a conference would be held in chambers, not like a usual court case at all, and his Honor would act as mediator. Representatives of both sides would be present. Let me say again that we would help matters on in the most friendly way possible consistent with our rights in regard to current contracts being observed." The witness told the men that
such a course would cost them practically nothing. One of the men said he did not think they could be said to have struck work, as they gave an hour's notice. The
witness replied that was a mere quibble and would not hold in a court of law. One of the men said they would like to talk matters over. The men then withdrew.
Later in the afternoon three of the men saw Gibson and the witness. None of the four defendants in the present case
were present. One man said, "The men are not prepared to accept your terms. They will not come back to work unless at the award rates." Gibson said he was sorry to hear that, and he thought the men were ill-advised to take such a course. One of the men asked, in the event of the matter being taken before the State Court and the court should rule that the rates were to be increased, if they would get back-pay. Gibson said he proposed that the President of the court should be asked to act as mediator, not arbitrator, and he could not say anything as to what would be done. He could not do anything in the way of anticipating the result. One of the men said all the men were not of one mind, and probably those who were inclined to go back to work would wait on the witness and Gibson. On June 1 Price, Commery, and Amber saw the witness. Amber said they were representing most of the men, and they had made up their minds to re-
turn to work. The witness replied that he thought they were taking a sensible course. One of the men asked if they would all get their jobs back. To this the witness replied that they would, and the fact that they had struck would not be taken notice of. He asked how many men they were speaking for, and Amber said, All, except three." The witness pro- mised to start the jobs as soon as possible. Arrangements were made for the jobs to start by lunch time the following day. At about 11 o'clock in the morning Price and Commery saw the witness and told him that the men had changed their minds, and were not going back to work. The wit- ness told them that everything was ready to start, and asked why the men had sud- denly changed their minds. Commery said. "The men have been talking together, and one or two said, 'We'll all be scabs if we go back at anything less than the award rates.' " The witness asked the two men if they were ready to start, and they re- plied. "Yes." The witness said if they could get four of their mates to join them he could get one of the city jobs going.
Cross-examined by Mr. Denny, the wit- ness said he knew at the time of the in- terviews that the State awards worked out at a shilling a day lower than the Federal award. The reason they wanted to come before the State Court was that they thought they would have a chance of their side being heard there.
Mr. Denny - Do you intend that as a re- flection on Mr. Justice Higgins? - No. I mean to say that we were not cited before the Federal Court.
Do you know that practically all the other employers are paying the Federal arbitration rates? - No. I do not know that. I know that some firms are paying it, because they were cited, and have to pay it.
Do you know of any firm which was not cited which is paying the Federal rates? I have heard that Richardson & Giles are paying it.
In the event of a compulsory conference, is your company prepared to abide by the President's ruling?
Mr. Skipper objected to the question, on the ground that the witness could not speak for the company.
The President said there was no legal provision for a compulsory conference in connection with the State Court when an award had been made.
In reply to further questions, the wit- ness said he did not remember anything having been said at any of the interviews to the effect that his company would be placed in a position of advantage over other contractors if the former paid the rate of the State award or the latter that of the Federal award. The company were not members of any association, except the Employers' Federation. The men were asking for the terms of the Federal award, and nothing beyond it.
At this stage the court adjourned till