There is not in that form, but there is provision made for the representation of people who are representative of the workers in a particular business. Ordinarily speaking, we would apply to the trade union where there is such in existence and where they would be clearly the representative people. The Senator mentioned that he could see two types of cases in which this section would be an impediment. He spoke of the possibility of a strike happening and, in the course of that strike, people being called out, with the result that an employer would not be able to go on teaching the apprentices. That is ruled out by the terms of the amended section.
The Senator said that there might be cases in districts in the country where the number of apprentices allowed would be larger than the number allowed elsewhere and that that would happen in districts where trade unions were not organised. The implication of the speech was that the trade unions might in that district become better organised and might want to restrict the number of apprentices. They proposed to do it, not by getting the rules amended for the district, but by having a strike on that point. I consider in these circumstances only it is necessary to have the same sort of prohibition of impeding the employer in carrying out the rules as we have in the series of sections against the employer, from Section 13 to Section 20, including both. We have there a series of prohibitions.
Under Section 13, where any rules regulating the minimum rates of wages made by the Committee are in force, it is unlawful to pay other rates, and any employer who fails to comply with the section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution and fine. That is repeated in Section 14 with regard to the keeping of records relating to wages paid to apprentices; in Section 15 with regard to the employment of people above the maximum number of hours; in Section 16 with regard to the keeping of records of hours of work; in Section 17 with regard to the prohibition of people not possessing the prescribed educational qualifications, and so on. It is there provided that it is unlawful for the employer to do certain things, and there is a penalty involved if he should do them.
This section is clearly and definitely limited to trade union activity directed against the employer carrying out the regulations. I think that is right in the circumstances. The people represening the workers can look to the Committee to get the rules amended or modified. If they do not take that course and decide to take the course of trade union activity, then they ought to be penalised. On that point we have a threat that there is going to be no trade union co-operation. This Bill, it must be remembered, is based on a voluntary principle, and, of course, it is quite right for Senators with a trade union outlook to give us warning that there is less likelihood of trade union co-operation under certain circumstances.
What are the circumstances? Senators may argue that the section, as amended, is not clear and that you may have trade union activity with regard to wages. At the moment the section as it reads only prevents activity taken for the purpose of preventing an employer complying with the rules. I hold that that particular section should be there. Alternatively, and I think this reduces the Bill to an absurdity, let the Committee have power to make rules and cut out all these sections from 13 onwards which state that it shall not be lawful for an employer to do certain things; do not impose any penalties on employers, and then where is the Bill? It will really be nothing but a series of pious resolutions, and will have no force. You will have people on the Committee carrying out their work, but the moment a contract is made the whole thing can be discarded. That reduces the Bill to an absurdity.
A lot of people complain that there is no compulsion in this Bill. It is compulsory in the sense that people should keep their agreements. If you adopt the other course which I have outlined you reduce the Bill entirely to a farce. Senator O'Farrell said that under this Bill an employer would enter into complete control of the apprentice. He may under certain conditions which have been agreed to as between the employer and the employee. There is better provision for the apprentice in the matter of teaching and training than ever there was before. To say that the employer enters into complete control of the apprentice is really a misreading of the whole scheme. Section 22 means only that an employer will not be prevented from carrying out his obligations towards apprentices by reason of trade union activity directed definitely and clearly against that point.