HC Deb 03 December 1919 vol 122 cc380-1
26. Major HILLS

asked the Minister of Labour if he can tell the House the present position of the moulders' strike?


This strike, as the hon. and gallant Member will recollect, is a strike against an award of the Court of Arbitration, and began on 20th September. On the 10th October negotiations took place between the Engineering Employers' Federation and the societies, and a Memorandum of proposed terms of settlement was arrived at and signed by the federation and by the members of the executives of the societies, who undertook to submit the proposed terms to their members. A ballot took place, and the proposals were rejected. I understand the present position is that the employers have offered to meet the representatives of the societies to resume the discussion at the point at which it was left at the conclusion of the negotiations on 11th October. The employers have suggested that, in view of the adverse ballot which took place after the October conference, the representatives of the unions should place themselves in a position to be able to make a recommendation to their members in the event of any further conference arriving at a basis for general resumption. This suggestion has not yet been adopted by the societies. The whole position has been under my constant and careful consideration, and I can assure the hon. Member that no opportunity will be lost of taking any steps which might appear likely to lead to a settlement.


Is not the right hon. Gentleman wrong when he says that the moulders' strike is a strike against an award? That is not true.


This may be a matter of controversy, but I have never heard it disputed before. Undoubtedly it was a strike against an award of the Interim Court of Arbitration, and was so recognised by the other societies which were involved.


Is it not a fact that the iron moulders gave notice to withdraw from the original agreement, and asked for an advance of 15s., according to the instructions of their own executive?


I think my hon. Friend is confusing two things. They appeared before a Court of Arbitration and got an award which was operative for the next four months. Some time after that award had been granted they presented a subsequent intimation that they were going to withdraw from their agreement, but that withdrawal could only begin to be operative after the expiry of the award.