["Successful Seamen", The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 25 November 1911, page 21]




An increased scale of wages and general betterment of conditions have been granted seafaring men engaged in the interstate trade.

Mr. Justice Higgins yesterday in Melbourne delivered judgment In the case between the Federated Seamen's Union and the Commonwealth Steamship Owners and others, and his Honor embodied in his proposed award nearly everything the men asked for. He, however, made an exception in the case of preference to members of the claimant organisation. The shipowners undertake, according to the award, to employ such members of the union as bear good records and as there are vacancies for.

The award will start from December 1, and have a currency of five years, but before it is formally made the parties will on Thursday have the opportunity of pointing out anything that his Honor may have overlooked in the complicated details of the Industry.

In view, however, of what he described as the existing boycott of the steamer Koombana at Fremantle by members of the union, contrary to an agreement with the employers, his Honor made a reservation as to the award operating from December 1. "I certainly shall not do so in the present position," he remarked emphatically. He added significantly that he was inclined to think that, even after an award had been made, the Court had power to strike out wholly or in part the relief granted to a union if it appeared that the men of the union, although taking the benefit of the award, were not prepared to take up the burden also. This observation has a bearing on awards made by the Court in other industries as well.

The Judge said further that he would have to consider what award he should finally make if the curious position in connection with the Koombana was not quickly altered. The vessel had been practically boycotted by the firemen because of some objection the men had to a chief steward.

The detention of the ship was, his Honor pointed out, serious, especially as the owners were under contract to carry malls "It is not for the public interest," he said, "that I should make an award in favour of a union which by its disobedient members is breaking a collective agreement."