A week later Thompson, in his first and much more subtle address to the UTLC as its incoming president, implied that, while workers had not reached 'our ultimate goal of Socialism', it didn't really matter because the trade union movement had achieved so much since the end of the war: inter alia the best-possible wages, the breaking of wage-pegging regulations, and provisions for longer annual leave.
The event's significance was best outlined by the News--by far the more likely of Adelaide's two daily newspapers to support the ALP rather than the LCL--which pointed out that it was the first time in the 60-year history of the UTLC that one of its officials had attended such a function.
At a meeting of the UTLC in early December, the secretary of the Plasterers' Union, 'Jim' Cavanagh, a much-respected figure on and by the Left, denounced 'dining with class enemies' and urged the UTLC, albeit unsuccessfully, to dissociate itself from its president's actions.
But what infuriated other metal trades unions in the state--and worried both the UTLC and the ASE federal council and executive--were the tightening of the 'closed shop' arrangement with Pope's and, above all, the ban on Communist trade union officials at any level.
McCaffrey angrily protested to both the UTLC and the newly-formed Metal Trades Federation of South Australia, arguing that the PP-ASE agreement was 'in complete contradiction' to the policy of the MTF which opposed the making of agreements by individual unions.
The UTLC was in an awkward position; Thompson was still, after all, its president.
In February, Thompson launched a defamation action against McCaffrey who, at a UTLC meeting, had effectively accused him of betraying the membership of the ASE.
In a speech to the UTLC in June 1954 he declared that, 'the unions had "had" arbitration in its present form'.
It took pride in being not only one of the largest unions in the state--and one allowed a major voice in both the UTLC and the ALP--but even more in being by far the largest metal trades union in South Australia.
The AEU several times protested to the UTLC about the ASE but with little success.