§ Whereupon Mr. SPEAKEI, pursuant to the Order of the House of the 12th February, proposed the Question, "That this House do now adjourn."
§ Mr. ADAMSON
There are several matters I desire to bring to the notice of the Parliamentary Secretary of the Admiralty relative to the wages and conditions of the workmen engaged in the Naval Dockyard at Rosyth. The first is the fact that there is 2s. per week difference in the wages paid to the locally-entered men as compared with the men transferred from the southern yards. This matter is causing a considerable amount of feeling on the part of the locally entered men. I have no objection to the transferred men being paid at their present rate. As a matter of fact, when one takes into account the present high cost of living, I think their wages should be increased rather than decreased. My objection is that the locally entered men are not paid at the same rate. These men are performing the same duties in quite as efficient a manner as the men who have been transferred from the southern yards. These locally entered men have also to meet the same high cost of living as the men who have been transferred from the southern yards. I do not think that the saving effected is value for the friction among the employés caused by this anomaly, and the right hon. Gentleman would be well-advised to remove it at the earliest possible moment. The second point to which I would direct his attention is that there is a number of tradesmen employed in the dockyard who are paid by time rates, such as masons, bricklayers, and other workmen of that character. These men are being paid one halfpenny per hour less than the wage paid to similar classes of tradesmen in Dunfermline. That is a direct violation of the Fair-Wages Clause, and as it is a Government Depart merit that is involved, it is a complaint that should be remedied at, the earliest possible opportunity.
The third point to which I want to direct attention is that there is a number of men employed in the power station at the dockyard who, because of the fact that they have an eight-hours working day, and consequently cannot travel by the trains provided by the Admiralty, are not provided with facilities for travelling, free, as are 1989 the other workmen, neither are they being paid the 6d. per day travelling time that is paid to the other workmen. In some cases this anomaly is causing the workmen involved to be 9s. per week worse off, because in addition they have to pay 1s. a day 'bus fare.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
No, Dunfermline men. The next point I wish to direct attention to is the fact that the train arrangements are of such a character that the men who are travelling to Dunfermline, Edinburgh, Kirkcaldy, and elsewhere are sometimes more than fourteen hours absent from their homes. Surely this is a matter whereby some reasonable arrangement could be made with the railway companies which would obviate these men being delayed so king to and from their homes. One point in connection with these complaints to which I should like to specially direct the attention of the right hon. Gentleman is that there is less delay in the morning from their homes to the dockyard than there is in the evening. Sometimes they are double the time on the homeward journey than it takes to do the journey in the morning. Further, there is a distinction drawn as to the carriages in which the various classes of workmen and workwomen travel. Some grades of the employés are provided with first-class carriages and others with third, but the third-class carriages are often so crowded with workmen that a number of them have to stand during the whole journey. I suggest to the right hon. Gentleman that that is not a very enviable experience for a man who has been working in the dockyard for, in some cases, twelve, fourteen, and sixteen hours, while at the same time, first-class carriages are running almost empty. The last point to which I would ask the right hon. Gentleman's attention is the fact that some men are having their establishment promotion delayed in consequence of their losing time, notwithstanding the fact that these same men are working as many as seventy-eight hours per week, with their overtime. I do not think that is fair treatment. I think that if a man is working seventy-eight hours a week he should not be penalised because on one morning of the week he may be two or three hours off his work. If a man is working sixteen hours on one day of the week, and feels not in the best form for going to his work at the regular 1990 time in the morning of the following day he should not be penalised and have his establishment promotion put back. These are matters which are causing a considerable amount of friction, and I think it would be well worth close inquiry by the right hon. Gentleman with a view to having them remedied at the earliest possible moment.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I raise no objection to my hon. Friend having put these points to me. These men work hard; they are engaged on work of great national importance, and it is up to us to see that they are properly and sympathetically treated. In regard to the first point, the question of the wages, I would point out that the ordinary dockyard employé, locally entered, gets the regular dockyard rate of pay. That is the same in every dockyard in the United Kingdom, and has been the subject from time to time of the closest possible examination. That pay is up to the level of the pay of other employers in the locality. There is no question about that. See what is happening. We asked a certain number of men from the southern yards to go to Rosyth because we wanted a considerable number of men there who are acquainted with dockyard methods, procedure, and routine; and, in order to give them some sort of inducement to go there, to leave their old associations, and to tear themselves up by the roots from their homes, we said, "We will give you 2s. a week over and above ordinary dockyard rates." The moment we do that, along come the men locally entered and say, "We want the same pay." These locally entered men are really getting fair and reasonable rates. What they are asking for is that, in addition to the ordinary dockyard rates, they shall have the special consideration which we have given over and above the ordinary rate to the transferee from the South, on the grounds I have named. I will represent my hon. Friend's views to the Board, of course. I daresay that when a man sees that the man working next to him is getting 2s. more than he is getting he thinks he ought to have the same. But this 2s. is a special award above the ordinary rate given to the transferee for having gone to Rosyth at our request and left his home associations and friends.
The second point is in regard to bricklayers getting one halfpenny per hour less than the rate current in the locality. We are bound under the 1991 Fair-Wages Resolution to pay the rate current in the locality for competent workmen. We have no alternative. It is part of the contract. I am speaking of the contractors' men. If the hon. Member or anyone else can prove to me that we are not paying the rate current in the locality for competent workmen, we have no alternative but to pay the rate. The difference between my hon. Friend and myself is that I shall question the evidence that he brings before me to prove that we are paying ½d. less than the current rate. It is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact. If the hon. Member will show me that the contractors on our behalf are paying less than the rate current, we are bound to pay the current rate under the Fair-Wages Resolution. The third point is the railway facilities. There has been, of course, great pressure on Rosyth in the matter of housing, and men have had to go further afield. In order that they might do so and get proper housing, we have provided free railway facilities. I can well believe that there is great congestion in the mornings. There is a great tax upon the rolling stock just now.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I will make representations to the Railway Executive about that, because we want the men to have reasonable facilities. My hon. Friend spoke about the Dunfermline men having to pay nine shillings a week. Free railway travelling has been granted for Edinburgh, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy and other places in the neighbourhood, and I do not quite understand the point about Dunfermline.
§ Mr. ADAMSON
The point is that a number of men employed in the power station, because of the fact that they have an eight hours' working day, cannot take advantage of the train provided by the Admiralty. The time of starting and finishing does not permit of their using the trains, and they have to pay bus fares of a shilling a day, which in some cases means that they are out of pocket to the extent of 9s.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
I thought that my hon. Friend was under the impression that the Dunfermline men did not get free railway traveling.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
It is part of the conditions that the Dunfermline men shall have free railway travelling, but I shall look into the matter. In reference to the congestion, there is great pressure upon the rolling-stock. I will, however, certainly make representations to the Railway Executive to do all they can to give these men reasonable facilities. Establishment was referred to by my hon. Friend. In all the other Royal yards a man gets his chance of establishment when he reaches a certain age, and if he is a competent worker. Rosyth transferees are in a better position as regards establishment than any other unestablished men in the employment of the Admiralty. We have said this to them: "As another consideration, in addition to the 2s., if you go to Rosyth, if you have been in our employment for three years, when you have done one year in Rosyth, and have a good record, you shall be established." I may tell my hon. Friend that some of the men in other yards have complained that the men at Rosyth got too favourable treatment. My hon. Friend says that he knows a man doing seventy-eight hours a week, who has not had his establishment given because of having lost time. I will look into it, but I should make it clear to him that the condition at Rosyth is that any man, having completed three years in our service, when he completes a year at Rosyth, will be established if he can give us a good report. I know that in some cases the commodore superintendent has said, when the time has come for establishment, "Your timekeeping has not been as good as it might have been," and certainly my hon. Friend would be the first to say in this time of national crisis that everybody must pull his load for all he is worth. Of course he would. If it appeared that there was no good reason why a man could not keep better time, then of course it would be right that the fact should be considered. If, on the other hand, it appeared that he could not make better time because of the bad train system, then there would be something on the other side of the balance sheet, and it would be looked at from that point of view. With regard to all these questions, you have a very sympathetic man in Commodore Bruce, who is a large-minded man, and my communications from him show that there is not a point that the men have put forward that Commodore Bruce has ever overlooked, and there is no one more continually anxious to look 1993 after the position and condition of the men on all occasions. Let me repeat that the 2s. is a special consideration over and above the ordinary rate, for the reasons I have already given. As to the bricklayers, if they are getting a halfpenny less than the current rate which obtains, we shall have to make it up. We are bound to do that. As to the question of railway facilities, I will look into that, and in reference to the subject of establishment the Rosyth men receive it after one year at Rosyth, having served three years in Government employment previously, if they have got good reports, and I am quite certain Commodore Bruce will not withhold good reports from any man who has done his work properly.
Sir H. DALZIEL
I wish to thank my right hon. Friend for his very sympathetic reply. The last time we raised this question he was good enough to give us an increase so far as travelling was concerned. That gave great satisfaction, but at the same time it did not remove all grievances. My hon. Friend has named a number of them to-night. This really does not amount to such a great expenditure, and we look forward with confidence for the special investigation which he is going to give to the 1994 matter. With regard to the distinction between local men and transferees, for a considerable time the local men and the transferees were equalised, and they received an extra 2s. for many months, and this was carried on until a new advance was made, and some inquisitive person, I think, discovered it, the result being that, having been equalised for many months, a new distinction was made, and 2s. was given only to the transferees That fact in itself has given rise to a good deal of feeling. With regard to the question of travelling, it is really a case for investigation. I am obliged to the right hon. Gentleman on behalf of some of my own Constituents who are concerned, and I only hope we shall have as satisfactory a reply a few weeks hence as we were able to obtain on a former occasion.
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
Oh, yes. It was given to them as a solatium for taking them away to Rosyth from their homos and all their friends, and it will be paid to them all the time they are there.
§ Question put, and agreed to.
§ Adjourned accordingly at Twenty minutes after Eleven o'clock.