HC Deb 04 March 1948 vol 448 cc521-3
54. Wing-Commander Millington

asked the Minister of Labour what action he has taken with regard to the appeal made to him by parties to the strike at Messrs. Ransomes and Rapier, of Ipswich; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Isaacs

Certain of the employees of Messrs. Ransomes and Rapier have withdrawn their labour because the firm have introduced Poles to fill four vacancies as radial-arm drillers on urgent and important work. Every effort has been made by my Department to find suitable and available British workers for these jobs, and I requested the union concerned to supply the names of any of their members who might be available. I am still prepared, if the union so wish, to offer jobs to any suitable workers they may care to name. There is a great unsatisfied demand for such workers. I cannot, however, allow urgent vacancies to remain unfilled, nor can I agree to use my powers of direction to compel British workers to take these jobs while suitable unemployed Poles are available for them. I regret the action which has been taken by the work-people in withdrawing their labour and would urge them to return to work at once. There is well-established machinery available to deal in a constitutional way with any difference that may have arisen between the parties.

Wing-Commander Millington

Have any approaches been made to the Minister by the unions concerned, on the grounds that the Poles involved have not been recruited through the normal channels of the Resettlement Corps, and that there is a political objection to the four men concerned?

Mr. Isaacs

No such representations have been made to me. The placing of these Poles has been in strict compliance with arrangements for placing Poles in many other industries. I know nothing of the men's political attitude, and I have no reason to think that they are unsatisfactory for that reason. There are a number of vacancies in this firm for this kind of worker; we could place another 16 of them in this firm if the union would send us the names.

Mr. Stokes

Is my right hon. Friend aware that on entering the House I heard that the men have shown very good sense, and are returning to work on the next working day, without any harm on either side?

Vice-Admiral Taylor

Is the Minister aware that this case shows how unjustified are the attacks made on the Poles who have come to this country?

Mr. Speaker

That is quite another question.