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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 1. 1965.



In Australia the working day is divided into—the day shift (8am to 5pm); and the twilight shift (5 pm to 11pm). A night shift from midnight to 7am is also worked if required by the ship and if labour is available. This system is acceptable to the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority; the gangs work the twilight shift in turn, usually every third week only. With the introduction of shift work there was legislation, the Stevedoring Industry Act, which ensures that supervision is effective, and that employers enforce discipline by taking the measures available to them (something often ignored in New Zealand where the Shipping Companies are unwilling to enforce disciplinary measures because of the risk of subsequent disputes). The result of the changes to shift work and more strict supervision of labour has been a major decrease in the amount of nonproductive time.

As the products handled in Australian ports and the industries served by them have much in common with those in New Zealand, this system could well be adapted, having the merit of being a workable and well-tried system. The Australian experience should provide useful indications of how the problems associated with the introduction of a shift system might be overcome.

Since the publication of the streamlining report there have been a number of talks between the Minister of Labour and the unions concerned (Harbour Board Employees', Tally Clerks', Railway Workers', Freezing Workers', Waterfront Workers'). Unfortunately there has been little evidence of any acceptance of the recommendations.