Railway Jobs Open to Women

The Courier-Mail Friday 26 November 1943 p. 3.

THE Railway Department's intention to throw open 40 different grades of work to women was revealed yesterday when the Railways Commissioner applied to the Women's Employment Board to fix the rates of pay for women so employed. Members of the board are Judge A. W. Foster (chairman), Miss E. Cashman, Messrs. A. Upjohn, A. R. Wallace, and A. W. Henderson.

Need for the application arose from the obligation imposed on the commissioner by the manpower directorate to release men to other industries and to the services and because of the impossibility of obtaining the required number of new employees, said Mr. J. P. O'Malley, representing the commissioner.

Women had not yet been employed in these grades, and they would be displaced after the war, Mr. O'Malley added. Grades for which the fixation of wages was sought included porters, conductors, packers, store- men, telegraphists, junior clerks, and several engineering classifications.

Unions' Attitude

Mr. T. Moroney, for the Australian Railways Union, said his organisation was not opposing the application in broad principles. He appreciated the difficulties the commissioner was having as far as employment was concerned.

His union strongly objected to the release of men from the railways to other industry or the ser- vices while some running staff men were working 80 to 90 hours a week. The union supported generally the employment of women as additional labour.

The Amalgamated Engineering Union representative (Mr. R. Leggat) agreed to the introduction of women into the Ipswich workshops, but contended that they should be paid men's rates.

He said that employment of women as staymaker, metal turner, welder, driller, lapper, and polisher, laper, planer, miller, electrical fitter, electrical mechanic, and brass finisher was not a matter for the Women's Employment Board, but for the dilution committee.

Judge Foster: I think you can leave the matter to us.

Mr. J. Lloyd, for the Railway Salaried Officers' Association, asked the board to make the women's rate the same as the men's. Women clerks would have the same responsibility as men.

The Queensland Railway Traffic Employees' Union representative (Mr. P. A. Davis) opposed the employment of women as a means of diverting men from the railways to other callings, but said that if their employment meant less work for men his union supported the move.

He opposed the employment of women as the second persons in charge of rail motors, as truck drivers, as labourers, unless employed on light work, and as car conductors.

Men conductors, he said, had complained of the heaviness of their work and had asked to be relieved of some of their duties.

Parties To Confer

Other unions objected to the employment of women as trimmers, lair and fibre teasers, spray sainters, white metal workers, welders, and cotter punching machine operators.

On a suggestion from Judge Foster the parties agreed to confer this morning to try to agree on the grades.

Once an agreement was reached, said Judge Foster, he could grant temporary rates and the Railways Department could employ women immediately.

The hearing was adjourned until to-day.

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