§ 27. Colonel WEDGWOOD
asked the Secretary of State for War whether, in consequence of a strike in some metal works near Dusseldorf on 28th May, which took place against the orders of the British military authorities, ten strikers were arrested and eighty were deported; whether a state of siege was imposed, and workers were driven into their houses at the point of the bayonet; and whether, in view of the bad effect of this sort of news, he will take steps to prevent our soldiers interfering in foreign strikes in future, or issue immediate denials if the reports are untrue?
In the interests of order and of the security of the British troops, and to avoid the possibility of the latter being involved in repressing civil disturbances in the area under British occupation, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Army of the Rhine has instituted a British Arbitration Court as a final chamber for settling disputes between employers and employed. This Court is resorted to only when no settlement has been reached by the German Courts, and it is held on the distinct understanding that both parties will accept and abide by its finding. It would obviously be impossible to allow strikes and industrial disturbances to take place at the will of the artisans, and to the peril of good order in the areas under military control. Such disturbances, if they developed to any extent, might have grave consequences. On the 28th May, a strike took place, and as the strikers broke their agreement and refused to abide by the ruling of the Court some of them were deported into unoccupied Germany. No state of siege was imposed. It is not proposed to interfere with the measures taken by the Commander-in-Chief to deal with these matters.