§ 20. Major KELLEY
asked the Minister of Labour whether he can make any statement on the strike of compositors and whether in future proceedings by an industrial court both parties to a dispute will be asked to declare their willingness to accept the findings of the court?
§ Dr. MACNAMARA
It is important that a full statement should be made, and I should be obliged if my hon. and gallant Friend will allow me to circulate the answer in the OFFICIAL REPORT. I will, of course, send him a copy. On the last part of the question, I desire to say at once that I do not think it necessary to make the arrangements suggested, because unless willingness to abide by the decision of the arbitration court be a prior assumption in all cases, arbitration 440 is useless as a method of settling industrial disputes.
§ Following is the statement:
The compositors who are on strike are members of the Typographical Association employed in general printing works and in newspaper publishing works in the Provinces and in Wales and Belfast. Negotiations between the Master Printers' Association and the Newspaper Society, on the one hand, and a number of trade unions, on the other, for a reduction of wages has led to a settlement in the case of a number of unions. In the case of the Typographical Association, however, no agreement was reached. The employers had posted notices of a, reduction and a stoppage of work was imminent, when, on a, suggestion by the Chief Labour Adviser of the Ministry, the parties agreed to refer the differences to the Industrial Court for settlement in the following terms:We agree that the question of a wage reduction in the printing industry as affecting the members of the Typographical Association employed by members of the Federation of Master Printers of the -United Kingdom and the Newspaper Society shall be referred to the Industrial Court for settlement on the following terms of reference:Should there be a reduction in the wages of the members of the Typographical Association. If so, what amount and how any such reduction should he divided, and at what dates?At the Industrial Court, and again subsequent to the issue of the award, the Typographical Association stated that they would not and did not regard the proceedings at the Court. as a settlement of the dispute, and that, in any case, they had announced their intention to refer the decision of the Court to a ballot vote of their members, a point they had not. raised in any way prior to their agreement to refer the dispute to the Court for settlement.
§ On the first point of their statement, it was only because the employers accepted a reference to the Court as a settlement that they (the employers) consented to withdraw their notices instead of suspending them. The meaning of the reference to the Industrial Court for settlement was explained to the Typographical Association, and the other unions who were present during the discussions have recognised that the decision of the Court was to be regarded as a 441 final settlement of the dispute. As the result, however, of an adverse ballot, the Typographical Association have repudiated the decision of the Court.
§ Reference to the Industrial Court or the alternative forms of arbitration provided under the Industrial Courts Act, 1919, can only be made by the joint consent of the. parties, but if the purpose of the Act is not to he stultified the decision of the Court must be final. I do not think it necessary to make the arrangements suggested in the last part of the question, because unless willingness to abide by the decision of the Arbitration Court is a prior assumption in all cases, arbitration is useless as a method of settling industrial disputes.