HC Deb 15 March 1923 vol 161 cc1787-8

(by Private Notice) asked the Minister of Labour whether, in view of the serious national consequences which would arise out of a stoppage in the building trades at the present time, he will draw the attention of the parties concerned to the national agreement entered into on 9th April, 1921, between the National Federation of Building Trade Employers and the National Federation of Building Trade Operatives which provides that, before any stoppage of work can take place, six calendar months' notice has to be given to terminate that agreement?


I know that both the building trade employers and the operatives are fully conscious of the gravity of the present situation. A meeting of the National Building Wages and Conditions Council will be held on the 20th March for the further discussion of the position, and I feel no doubt that, as in the past, both the employers' and workers' sides will avail themselves of all possible means of reaching a settlement and avoiding a stoppage of work. I cannot make any statement on the points in dispute while these negotiations are proceeding.


Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the men have agreed to accept a reduction to now on an average of 3d per hour over and above the agreement based on cast of living conditions, and now they are going to he asked to accept another 4d. reduction on the average? Will he keep in touch with the situation and try to bring the thing to a satisfactory conclusion? The men have made all the sacrifices they can make anti will make no more.


Are the proposals now put forward by the Master Builders' Association a direct breach of the agreement which has been entered into between them and the representatives of the workmen, and will he use his influence to induce the employers' association to abide by the agreement they entered into and withdraw those notices?


The suggestions made in both those supplementary questions are really matters of argument, which naturally will be dealt with as I have already indicated, in the course of negotiations. I cannot possibly enter into them myself. With regard to the suggestion that I, and the responsible officers of ray Department, should keep in touch with the negotiations as they proceed, of course, that will be the ease.