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I

TODAY; Warm, humid, thunderstorms

Homeward-bound workers were caught in yesterday's downpour as

they scurried from Elizabeth st. to Flinders st. station¿

I; A FREAK tropical storm thundered over Mel

I #% bourne last night, plunging 250,000 homes

into darkness.

Houses and buildings rocked as thunderclaps echoed like broadsides from battleships.

Lightning turned darkness into day.

The storm -

# Stopped peak hour trains, delaying

thousands of workers.

% Blacked out telephone exchanges. £ Put radio stations off the air.

£ Caused a minor flood in Flinders street. 0 Knocked down, two women and a girl

With lightning. " \ 9 Started fires in several suburbs.

In the four hours from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. 67 points of rain drenched Melbourne.

At 6.30 p.m. ? rain was falling at the rate of 175 points an hour, comparable with the heaviest tropical storms of northern Queensland.

Two feet of water banked up at the Queen's Bridge section as workers streamed homeward.

Gutters overflowed and small rivers

gushed down the centres of both Bourke

and Collins streets.

»

Traffic lights were ignored in the rush for trams and trains.

Motorists drove "blind." Wind-; screen wipers were useless.

Traffic snarl

Traffic slowed to a snail's pace throughout the city and suburbs.

North and western suburbs .were heaviest hit. Streets in Brunswick, Sand ringham, and Footscray were flooded up to a foot deep at 6.45 p.m.

D24 asked cars to phone messages as radio communication failed.

Radio station 3UZ went off the air for two minutes between 6.30 and 6.40 p.m. during the reading of The Argus news. 3KZ was off the air for seven minutes.

S.E.C. flying squads rushed to black out centres and worked in drenching rain.

Blackouts lasted for some hours in some suburbs. Worst affected were Cam berwell, Essendon, Toorak, Greenvale/ Ascot Vafe, Kew, East Brighton, Oak leigh, Caulfield, Burwood, Glen Iris, Port Melbourne, and Malvern.

. Continued, Page 5.

WHARF DISPUTE - from p. 1

MONK TRIES TO

AVERT STRIKE

In Sydney yesterday Mr. A. E. Monk, A.C.T.U. president, launched a bid to achieve peace in the waterfront dispute before the deadline at midnight on Sun day. (See Page 1.)

But Mr. Monk would say only: "All I can say is that some discussions are proceeding."

Trade union .observers say that successful . peace talks could be held between the A.C.T.U., the ship owners, and the Fédéral Govern

ment. I

Mr. Monk is known to have discussed all implica tions of the threatened sthrike with senior N.S.W. trade union officials yester day.

1954 strike

The last major waterside strike occurred in November, 1954, after the Federal Go vernment decided to drastic ally alter the recruitment system governing waterside

workers.

This strike-again marked by a complete deadlock be tween, the trade union move ment and the ship owners lasted for a fortnight, and is estimated to have cost the industry about £3 million.

The present proposed strike in support of demands for higher wages and better conditions for watersiders throughout Australia, has already been endorsed by the A.C.T.Ü. and all waterfront unions. ,

'Calamity' j

Shipowners' representa tives said in Sydney last night that the proposed strike would finish as a "national calamity." .

They said the strike was deliberately aimed at un

dermining the national economy with intent to em barras the newly elected Federal Government.

Shipowners yesterday made "eleventh hour" moves to aver the strike.

. They sent an urgent mes sage to the Registrar of the Federal Arbitration Court in Sydney, asking the Court to

intervent.

. They also repeated offers made to representatives of the Waterside Workers' Federation last Friday for improved pay and conditions worth £1,600,000 a year.

Wharf laborers are der man.ding pay increases and improved conditions, which, shipowners say, would cost the industry £5,250,000 a

year.

'Demands'

Wharf laborers' represen tatives have demanded from shipowners:

. An increase of 1/ an hour on their present rate of 8/10 an hour, and an increase from 16/ to £2, per day in attendance money.

. A guaranteed minimum wage of £12 a week, sick pay, holiday pay. and a minimum period of engage ment of six hours instead of four hours.

Shipowners have already «said they were prepared to grant sixpence an hour in crease in the hourly rate and a guaranteed minimum wage of £20 a fortnight.

Mr. Conde that that ship owners would not ask the Federal Government to use troops to break the strike.

"This strike could , de

velop into a national crisis, and, if necessary, the Fede ral Government would." act without our having to ask it," he said. , _

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