§ 12. Mr. Osborne
asked the Minister of Labour how many men are entitled to receive grab money because of the introduction of labour-saving machinery and by which men are paid a full week's wage though compelled to be idle; which trades unions insist upon this system; and in view of the labour shortage, if he will take steps to have it abolished.
§ Mr. Isaacs
I understand that the hon. Member is referring to an arrangement between the two sides of the transport industry in regard to the manning scales at certain stages of the unloading of a particular type of cargo by a particular kind of machinery. The trade union side party to the arrangements consists of representatives of the Transport and General Workers' Union, the National Union of General and Municipal Workers, the 177 National Amalgamated Stevedores and Dockers and the Scottish Transport and General Workers' Union. I have no information as to the number of workers affected, but I understand that it is extremely unlikely that an appreciable number of men could under this arrangement be kept idle for so long a period as a week at a time. I would add that the two sides have set up a joint committee under an independent chairman to examine the industrial arrangements of the industry, including this question of manning scales. This joint committee was appointed by the council and will report to it. I cannot intervene in the manner suggested in the last part of the Question.
§ Mr. Osborne
In view of the fact that the dockers now have a guaranteed week, what moral justification is there for paying men for being idle week after week, merely because some machine has been installed?
§ Mr. Isaacs
I would ask the hon. Gentleman what moral justification there is for him to assert that men are idle week after week, when my information is to the contrary, and, secondly, when the industry itself is investigating the position, and when it will be much more likely to reach a happy result if we do not intervene in the matter?