21. Mr. Maitland
asked the Minister of Labour whether his attention has been drawn to a stoppage of work at the British Road Services Depot, Symington, Lanarkshire; and if he will make a statement.
§ Sir W. Monckton
Yes, Sir. I understand that 29 men stopped work on 25th February in protest against the decision to close down the operational side of the British Road Services Depot at Symington. This decision, which involves the transfer of 21 drivers and fitters to another depot, was taken after discussion through the normal joint consultative machinery. The strike is unofficial and officers of the trade unions are endeavouring to secure an immediate resumption of work.
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that the decision to close the depot followed an assurance given to me, the Parliamentary representative of these men, that the depot would not be closed and that this assurance came from the Chairman of the British Transport Commission and was later endorsed by the Chairman of the Road Haulage Executive?
§ Sir W. Monckton
That is a matter which does not come within my responsibility. The fact is that it is an unofficial strike. Although yesterday, I understand, the men decided by a majority vote not to resume work, the national union officials are calling another meeting tomorrow and I hope that will succeed.
§ Mr. A. C. Manuel
Is the Minister of Labour aware that this stoppage has occurred through the intervention of the hon. Member for Lanark (Mr. Maitland), through his not allowing the trade union to deal with these labour questions but obstructing trade union officials?
Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that that allegation is wholly unfounded? I, as the men's Parliamentary representative, take the greatest care to keep out of trade union issues, but if I passed on to the House what trade unionists have told me the hon. Member opposite would be greatly embarrassed?
§ Mr. Manuel
Is the Minister aware that two evenings ago I had a visit in the Central Lobby of the House from two officials of the trade union concerned, who reported to me that the unofficial stoppage had occurred because of the intervention of the hon. Member opposite?
§ Captain Charles Waterhouse
Is this not one more example of the friction which occurs between organised labour and nationalised industries?