HC Deb 29 June 1914 vol 64 cc11-4
21. Mr. DEVLIN

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware of the position created by the action of the Board of Trade in regard to trade boards, recently established in connection with the sugar confectionery trade and the shirt-making trade in Ireland; whether he is aware that on all the trade boards previously established the workers' representatives have included persons not included in the trade concerned; and that this representation of the workers by outsiders capable of rendering them assistance in the safeguarding of their interests has always been regarded as of prime importance and was provided for in the Act of 1909; whether he is aware that the Board of Trade has made a new departure in Ireland, in the case of the boards recently established, and has thrown upon the workers in the trade the task of conducting their own case against employers, united in an association and prepared with arguments in their own favour; whether he is aware that, in the case of the Sugar Confectionery Board the workers' representatives consist of six girls and three labouring men, all of them in receipt of low wages, and that, at a meeting of this board recently held in Dublin, four of the women and two of the men workers found themselves opposed at the table by their own employers, and consequently none of these workers wanted to take any part in the proceedings, and, but for the presence of an outsider whom the Board of Trade permitted to deputise for one of the men workers, no resolution or proposal affecting the workers would have been brought forward, although, according to figures put in by the employers themselves, the average rate of wages in certain of the factories concerned was under 7s. a week; whether he is aware that on the Shirtmaking Trades Board the employers have been permitted the assistance of a legal adviser, and that at the first meeting of this Board, but for the intervention of a representative of the National Anti-Sweating League, the result might have been disastrous for the workers, as their representatives were personally unknown to one another, had no plan of action, and lacked both the capacity and the experience necessary to hold their own with the men in charge of the interests of the employers; and whether, seeing that the workers themselves have demanded that the Board of Trade should permit them to nominate a skilled representative outside their own ranks to assist them in the defence of their interests, he will accede to this demand of the workers with the least possible delay?


The Board of Trade have always endeavoured to secure that the workers' side of the Trade Boards shall contain an efficient leader either from inside or outside the trades concerned. In the case of the Sugar Confectionery Board in Ireland, the person selected as leader of the workers' side resigned just before the first meeting of the Board. In order to fill the vacancy thus created, Mr. Mallon, who is the secretary of the Anti-Sweating League, was appointed by the Board of Trade, and he was present at the first and only meeting of the Trade Board as a member and not as a deputy for anybody else. As regards the Irish Shirtmaking Board, the secretary of the Employers' Federation (who is by profession a solicitor) is a member of the employers' side. The workers' side of the Shirtmaking Board includes three officials of the workers' trade unions, namely, the secretary and treasurer of the Londonderry Factory Workers' Union and the vice-president of the Belfast Amalgamated Society of Cutters, all three of whom are employed in the trade. If the workers think that their side is not sufficiently strong, notwithstanding that three officials of their trade unions are members of it, I shall be very glad, upon a vacancy arising, to consider any name which may be submitted to me on their behalf.

22. Mr. DEVLIN

asked the number of Trade Boards established in Ireland under the provisions of the Trade Boards Act, 1909, the dates of the establishment of these boards, the towns or cities in which they have been established, the trades they have been established in connection with, and the particular branches of those trades with which they are concerned, the names, addresses, and occupations of the representatives of the employers, the employés, and the local and official members of each of these boards, respectively, the number of meetings of each of these boards held since its establishment, the number and names of those present at each such meeting, the net results, so far as they can be ascertained up to the present, of the action of these boards in so far as it affects the wages, the hours of work, and the conditions of work of the workers or employés concerned; and with whom, if with any person or persons, the Board of Trade consulted as to the representatives of the workers appointed as members of these boards?


Four Trade Boards have been established in Ireland, one each for the paper box-making, tailoring, shirtmaking, and sugar confectionery and food-preserving trades. These Trade Boards cover the whole of Ireland and deal with the branches of their respective trades set out in the Regulations, of which I am sending my hon. Friend copies. I am also sending my hon. Friend a statement showing the dates of establishment of the boards, the names, addresses and occupations of the appointed and representa- tive members, the number of meetings of each board, and the attendances of each member. The paper box-making and tailoring boards have fixed minimum rates of wages, as set out in the notices, of which I am sending my hon. Friend copies. I may remind him that Trade Boards have no power to regulate the hours of work or the general conditions of employment. The representatives of workers on the paper box-making and tailoring boards were elected at meetings of workers; those on the shirtmaking and sugar confectionery and food preserving boards were chosen after very careful investigation on the spot by representatives of the Board of Trade, who held numerous meetings of workers and consulted persons likely to be of assistance.