HC Deb 19 April 1920 vol 128 cc43-5

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been called to the fact that following a recent decision of the Industrial Court there is deadlock in the relations between employers and workers in practically all branches of the Scottish building trade; whether, in spite of the finding of the Court that no increase in wages should be given, the employers offered an extra 1½d. per hour provided it was accepted by all sections; whether the only section refusing to accept was that representative of the carpenters and joiners; whether, unless a settlement is reached, a strike affecting the whole building trade of Scotland may begin on Friday first; and whether, having regard to the serious effect of such a stoppage in the present urgent position of Scottish housing schemes, he will take steps either to try to bring parties together again, or to secure fresh consideration of the employers' offer and the present proposals of the workers by the Industrial Court?

The MINISTER of LABOUR (Dr. Macnamara)

I am aware of the position which has arisen in the Scottish building trade. The finding of the Industrial Court, dated 30th March last, was that a claim on the part of the operatives for an advance in wages of 6d. an hour was not established. I understand that the operatives were dissatisfied with the award of the Court, and that, notwithstanding the arbitrator's decision, the employers thereupon offered to concede the claim to the extent of giving an increase of 1½d. per hour, the balance of the claim for. 6d. to be referred again to the Industrial Court for arbitration. The carpenters are not satisfied with this offer, one of the reasons for their dissatisfaction being the fact that they have just obtained from the Shipbuilding Employers'. Federation an offer of an advance of 12s. per week over and above the advance of 6s. per week given by an award of the Industrial Court on 10th March. I am informed that tentative arrangements have been made for a conference this week between the employers in Scottish buildings trades and building trade operatives, including the joiners. My hon. Friend will appreciate that the Ministry of Labour would have considerable difficulty in attempting to mediate in this dispute. I propose to await the result of the conference to which I have referred before considering what steps should be taken by the Department in this matter.


Arising out of that reply, for which I am very grateful, is my right hon. Friend aware that since Friday last a General Minute has been laid the effect of which is to request that this matter should go again to the Industrial Court, and in view of the serious position in Scotland, which we all appreciate, will he take steps to hasten that, and if necessary have the question again considered by the Industrial Court?


No doubt the matter will be brought before the Court, I hope, immediately; but I should like to discuss it forthwith with my hon. Friend.