Miss Ward (by Private Notice)
asked the Minister of Labour whether he will make a statement on the strike of shipyard workers on Tyneside?
§ The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)
Yesterday there was a stoppage of work in a number of shipbuilding yards on Tyneside apparently in protest against certain changes in the arrangements for the payment of wages. These changes are being made in accordance with an agreement entered into between the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions on behalf of its constituent members, and the Tyne Shipbuilders' Association. Under this agreement, wages will be paid on Friday up to midnight on the previous Sunday instead of being paid up to the previous Tuesday. This change is recognised by the Confederation as necessary in order to meet certain difficulties due mainly to pressure on the available clerical staff, and in particular to avoid errors in calculation of wages which had been the subject of complaint. The new arrangement comes into effect this week and in order to avoid any hardship which might result from the change over the employers undertook to make advances varying from 10s. for apprentices and boys under 18 years of age to £2 per man for skilled pieceworkers. These advances are to be repaid over a period of twenty weeks. All possible steps are being taken to secure a resumption of work and acceptance of the agreement.
In view of that statement, would the right hon. Gentleman say, on behalf of the Government, whether the Government are prepared to see that the agreement is honoured?
§ Mr. Kirkwood
Is the Minister aware that the men have a complaint that the great majority of them were not consulted about the arrangement?
In view of that statement by the hon. Gentleman, can I have an assurance that the men really know the facts?