HC Deb 10 December 1963 vol 686 cc192-4
3. Mr. Abse

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies why permission was refused to David Joubert, President of the Seychelles Government Workers' Union and employed in the Accountant General's Department of the Seychelles, to attend either on unpaid or paid leave a course at the College of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions at Kampala; and what official salary was earned by Joubert at the time of his request.

Mr. Fisher

It was not possible to release Mr. Joubert to attend this course when he applied for leave in September because his department at that time was short staffed. At the time of his request his salary was £234 a year.

Mr. Abse

Is it seriously being suggested that a man who has such a derisory salary, even by the miserable standards in the Seychelles, could not be spared from the department? Is it not appreciated that in an island such as this, where there is considerable exploitation and a great number of problems, it is most desirable that there should be responsible training and leadership? Is it not also appreciated that the course of the kind provided was the sort of thing which would have helped in this respect? Could not the hon. Gentleman consider whether, now that the man goes back, he should be reinstated in his position and given the salary which he has lost as the result of taking this responsible course?

Mr. Fisher

In a small territory like the Seychelles civil servants cannot expect to be allowed to take leave whenever they wish to do so. I hope that the hon. Member will not mind my saying that in my view the primary purpose of a job is to do it and not to use it as a laboratory to learn about trade unionism. [Hon. Members: "Oh."] Yes, I think so. There is no vacancy for Mr. Joubert as a trade union expert, because the post is already filled by someone better qualified. His reinstatement is a matter for the local Government.

Mr. G. Thomas

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Mr. Joubert is a most responsible person? When I visited the Seychelles I formed the opinion that the best thing that could happen to the Seychelles was that training should be given for responsible trade union leaders of his type. Is the hon. Gentleman further aware that there is a feudal atmosphere there which is a disgrace to this House? Will he not look again at the question of the principle of trade unionists attending conferences?

Mr. Fisher

There is nothing against Mr. Joubet, but there was no possibility of his being employed on his return there on trade union matters because, as I have said, another Seychellois with considerable training in trade union affairs is already employed in the Civil Service in that capacity.

Mr. G. M. Thomson

Is it not important that public servants in the public service should be given training and experience of responsible trade unionism? Is not that in the interests of the Seychelles? Will not the hon. Gentleman look at this matter again?

Mr. Fisher

That is very important, but it is also important that the administration of the Seychelles should go on.

Forward to