HC Deb 11 July 1962 vol 662 cc1324-5
4. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Labour how much time has been lost in the motor industry through strike action, both official and unofficial, in the last year; what has been the effect of these interruptions on the cost of production; and what steps he is taking in conjunction with employers and trade unionists to produce greater stability in labour relations within the industry.

Mr. Hare

In the year ended 31st May, 1962, 750,000 working days were lost in the motor industry through industrial disputes. I must point out that about half were the result of the two national one-day official stoppages in engineering. Figures are not available to show the effect of these stoppages on production costs. A number of steps have been taken by the industry to improve relations following my discussions last year with leading employers and trade unionists. I propose to have a further meeting later this year to review the position.

Mr. Edelman

Do not the figures show that there remains a serious problem of stoppages in the motor industry which the mutual expression of good will between employers and trade unions will not adequately dispel? Is not a deep-seated reason for these strikes in the motor industry the fear of redundancy, which becomes aggravated as winter approaches? In those circumstances, will the Minister take some statutory power in order to try to present to the industry a pattern of terminal payments for workers liable to become redundant?

Mr. Hare

I share the hon. Member's disappointment that there were so many unofficial strikes, but since we had these talks the employers and unions have kept strictly to agreed procedures and to agreements. The unofficial strikes which have taken place have gained no unofficial striker anything but have imposed great hardship on his fellow workers and damage to the prospects of the firms concerned. This factor must be kept clearly in mind. There is a difference here from what has happened before. I think the hon. Member knows my feelings about the need for employers to plan very carefully any redundancy they may have in mind and to give plenty of notice of it. I think he knows my general views but in particular I should like to see all workers in industry given greater security than they have at present.

Mr. Prentice

At the meeting last December, to which the Minister referred, the employers said that they were taking new steps to improve communications in the industry and were increasing personnel departments, including training of supervisors and so on. Can he say anything about the success of those proposals?

Mr. Hare

A great deal has happened. A number of firms have strengthened their personnel requirements and got down to the job of improving their systems of communications. As the hon. Member knows, better arrangements are being made and are in operation for the training of supervisors and others concerned in management. I am glad to say that the training of shop stewards is also being developed.