§ 24. Mr. Leonard
asked the Minister of Labour whether he has made any overtures towards the settlement of the strike of apprentices in the Clyde area through an approach to the district committee of the Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades Federation or the federated employers; and what response, if any, he has received from these organisations?
§ 25. Mr. Neil Maclean
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the employers in the shipbuilding and engineering trades have again refused to negotiate with representatives of the Confederation of Trade Unions on the questions involved in the strike of 12,000 apprentices in the Clyde area; and whether he can make any statement regarding what action his officers are taking to avert the stoppage of work which is likely to take place on Friday, 16th April?
§ 27. Mr. Buchanan
asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that at present a dispute is taking place in which 12,000 apprentices in the Clyde shipbuilding and engineering works are involved; that the employers have refused to negotiate with the proper trade union officials; and whether his Department have, in view of the serious nature of the dispute which might involve large numbers of other workers, taken any steps to bring the parties together?
§ Mr. E. Brown
The information at my disposal, as a result of the discussions which have taken place indicates that the Clyde District Committee of the Confederation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades, has taken action without the authority of the National Executive. Further, that when the stoppage of work occurred, an application had already been made by the National Executive of the confederation and the other trade unions concerned for a meeting with the Engineering Employers' Federation on the subject of the position of the unions with regard to the wages and conditions of apprentices and boys. It is clear that the continuance or extension of the stoppage of work can only cause further delay in the discussion and settlement of the matters in dispute. While I am ready to give all possible assistance in securing the proper discussion of questions arising between employers and work-people, I am sure that hon. Members will recognise that unofficial stoppages of work are incompatible with the operation of constitutional procedure, and that it is my duty in the interests of workpeople generally to stand by such procedure.
§ Mr. Leonard
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that more than 12,000 young persons employed in the shipyards around the Glasgow district have for a number of years been refused any recognition by the employers, either through trade unions or through any other medium?
§ Mr. Maclean
Is it not the case that the employers definitely refuse to meet any representative of any union on behalf 1162 of these apprentices, and are insisting upon the apprentices seeing them themselves individually; and that, consequently, the statements appearing in the answer supplied to the Minister of Labour are definitely incorrect?
§ Mr. Brown
No, Sir; the answer is quite correct. It is clear that when the stoppage of work occurred an application had been made by the National—not the Glasgow—Executive of the Confederation and the other trade unions concerned for a meeting of the Engineering Employers' Federation on the subject of the position of the unions with regard to the wages and conditions of apprentices and boys That is the major factor which emerged through the intervention of the officer of my Department.
§ Mr. Maclean
If that had been the case, the employers would not have been holding out in their objection to meeting the representatives of a trade union, but would have put that forward as an alternative suggestion.
§ Mr. Buchanan
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that the employers, in reply to his own mediation, issued a statement that they do not intend to negotiate with the union nationally or locally? In view of the fact that the dispute is likely to extend considerably, will his Department take any steps to bring the two parties together?