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An ultimatum - transcripts

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus, 16 February 1911

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus newspaper on 16 February 1911 reporting that union representatives had visited manufacturers employing non-unionised labour
National Library of Australia

"Mr. M'Kay informed the stewards that Mr. Smith, their organiser, called today, and handed him a list of the names of twelve men in his employ who were non‑unionists, and intimated that if these men did not join the union today there would be no unionists at work in his factory tomorrow.

"Mr. M'Kay informed Mr. Smith that his factory was a free shop to unionists or non‑unionists. No man seeking employment is ever asked the question whether he is a unionist or non‑unionist.

"Mr. Smith stated that personally he was not in favour of striking, and had suggested at the meeting of their council that the union men in the shop should ostracise the non‑union men, and make their lives in the shop unbearable.

"Mr. M'Kay replied:— I am not going to force any man to join the union, and I am not going to allow anybody else to force them. Further, if this system of boycotting is carried out, or if anyone begins to make it unpleasant for any workman in my employ, I will dismiss the man that interferes, even if it means 100 men or 1,000 men. I am going to stand absolutely firm on this. If the men go out to-morrow, they do so to please themselves, and they will not come back again until it pleases me, even if it takes a week or six weeks or a year.

"Mr. M'Kay stated that he would stand firm, because he knew it was right, and believed that the men were absolutely wrong. They were quite at liberty to tell the union all he said, and if they desired it he would be quite agreeable to give them a typewritten copy, so that there would be no mistake about his attitude in the matter."


Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus, 27 June 1908

Article from the Melbourne Argus 15 February 1911 titled Naming Non-unionists
National Library of Australia





(full report on pages 15 and 16.)

There was a good muster of the bar, of legal students, and of the general public to hear judgment delivered yesterday by the High Court in the "new protection" cases. The fact that the "law notices" announced baldly that judgment was to be delivered in the "Commonwealth v. M'Kay" and the "King v. Barger" did not obscure from those interested the essential point that the full bench of the High Court was for the first time to pronounce on the constitutionality or non‑constitutionality of an act of the Commonwealth parliament.

The question practically was whether the Commonwealth Parliament had power by indirect methods to regulate the conditions of manufacture within a state. It was not long in doubt after their honours took their seats on the bench, for the Chief Justice at once announced that he would deliver judgment for himself, Mr. Justice Barton, and Mr. Justice O'Connor. This was a clear indication that by a majority verdict it could declare the law unconstitutional.