§ 13. Mr. W. Yates
asked the Minister of Labour on what date and where he last held a meeting with the Trades Union Congress to discuss the effect of unofficial strikes on the country; what was the result of that meeting; and what action he decided to take.
§ Mr. Hare
As I explained in my reply of 16th November to my hon. Friend, I have been having regular discussions with the Trades Union Congress and the British Employers' Confederation on the whole question of improving industrial relations. The purpose of these discussions is to remove the cause of unofficial strikes.
§ Mr. Hare
I did not say that. The strikes have also been doing great damage to the men themselves and, in my opinion, to their workmates. I am glad to say that we are not living in a dictatorship. I believe that there is full realisation of the fact which I have mentioned—that unofficial strikes are not to be tolerated, in the interests of 1355 the unions, the employers and the Government. We have all condemned them. How, in a democratic society, should we set about trying to deal with them? Surely the sensible, practical and British way is by getting people to cooperate together, to point out the folly, to remove the causes and to settle matters by the normal processes of negotiation and good sense.
§ Mr. Prentice
Does the Minister agree that the Trades Union Congress published a very good and very useful report on unofficial strikes last year which drew attention to some of the failings of the trade union movement and that there is a good deal of real leadership taking place to try to put some of these things right? Will he further agree that it would be helpful if the management organisations would equally publicly and equally comprehensively deal with the problem from their angle? Would he agree that 60 per cent. of the strikes in this country last year took place in four industries and that they were further concentrated on certain firms, and that this tends to the conclusion that the most common reason for strikes is bad management?
§ Mr. Hare
It would be a great mistake to try to apportion blame between management and workers. [HON. MEMBERS: " Oh."] I am speaking for myself, not for any other hon. Member, and that is my opinion. I believe that it would be a great error. Both parties have admitted that there are faults on each side. The hon. Member is quite correct. Last year 60 per cent. of the unofficial strikes took place in four industries alone. I have been discussing with employers in the motor-car industry, shipbuilding and the dock industry ways and means of removing the causes of these very damaging disputes.
Mr. Gresham Cooke
I am confident that management is trying to do everything possible to improve relations, but will my right hon. Friend put this suggestion to the T.U.C. as perhaps a constructive one? My suggestion is that the unions should, if possible, strengthen their central secretariat organisation so as to have more officials available to attend to local disputes before they go too far. The weakness of the central 1356 secretariat in some cases allows local disputes to get out of hand.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
Is the Minister aware that many trade unionists are greatly perturbed by the unofficial strikes in the House of Commons and that, if there were as many unofficial strikes in industry as there are in the House of Commons as regards people not attending their work, it would be impossible for industry to run properly?