Mike ROSS, evidence for the 1973-75 campaign for permanency.   

My name is Michael Ross, a financial member of the B.L.F.

I first joined the Union in 1946. I was married at the time and was fortunate that my wife was able to work because the spasmodic nature of my work as a builder’s labourer made it impossible for me to maintain a decent standard of living without her financial support.

However, at the birth of my daughter in 1949, the whole outlook took over a great change in our circumstances.

My wife felt it was her main duty to look after the child’s welfare and no longer continued to work.

Work was so irregular in the building industry that I found it necessary on many occasions to seek work elsewhere.

Employment was not easy to find in factories, of any nature, and wages in such places were in the main at a very low level, and in fact, still are. So that in order to sustain my wife and child, I made frequent trips to the country, where I worked in shearing sheds, wheat-lumping, rabbiting and almost any work I could obtain. Incidentally, most of these occupations are not regular but only seasonable.

This took me away from home for periods ranging from three to six months of the year.

The result was that my normal home life was seriously affected. I was lucky that it didn’t completely destroy my whole marriage. I know of a few mates who had to go through the same experience as me and it all ended in separation and/or divorce.

This state of affairs continued right up until 1967, at which point of time my daughter was able to work and my wife, sadly to relate, was deceased.

Since then I have been able to regularly follow the industry, but at times have been our of work for varying intervals, for up to five and six weeks and have had to borrow money to pay my rent and keep.

Only by working excessive overtime, when employed, have I been able to overcome any financial difficulties.

There is no need for me to stress the importance of permanency in the industry. The facts speak for themselves.

I well remember, when in a different industry to ours, I had occasions to front Conciliation Commissioner Findlay and I asked him who, in his opinion, were the workers most entitled to get the work in any given industry. His reply was “those men that regularly follow the industry”. I fully agree with this statement. But what the Commissioner didn’t tell me was how one could regularly follow an industry that did not and would not offer you regular employment.

Finally, it is my belief that a worker has the right to decide what industry he wishes to follow and that industry is responsible to see that he is guaranteed a regular job and a regular income. And, that to the society I live under:-

Ex Shearers Cook, Ex Wool-presser, Ex Wheat-lumper, Ex Rabbiter, Ex Cane-cutter

Ex Storeman, Ex Hobo and any other name you can think of, your name it and that’s me.

NSW Branch Records, MSS 4879, Mitchell Library, Sydney, Box MLK 04272