HC Deb 04 February 1963 vol 671 cc28-9
32. Mr. Hocking

asked the Minister of Labour if he will make a statement on his discussions with both sides of the construction industry about labour difficulties on large sites.

Mr. Hare

At these discussions we have examined the special difficulties which can arise when there are large numbers of employers engaged in operations on these sites and relations with their employees are governed by different agreements and procedures.

We have agreed that employers and trade unions in each of the four main groups of the construction industry should now meet to discuss what steps can be taken for improved co-ordination. They will also discuss other arrangements which might be made to see that disputes are dealt with at an early stage, procedures for settling them work more effectively, and communications between employers and workers on the site are improved.

Mr. Hocking

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the industry generally has a good record with regard to labour relations, and will he also confirm that the number of strikes that have taken place in the last few years have occurred mainly at large sites? Does not this indicate a lack of co-ordination at some of these sites? Is my right hon. Friend having any consultations with his right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works?

Mr. Hare

In reply to the latter part of my hon. Friend's question, I am keeping in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Public Building and Works. My hon. Friend is right in saying that on the whole, relations in the industry are good. We have, however, had these troubles consistently over quite a period of time. We have had what happened not only on Merseyside but, as the House will remember, at Fylingdales, West Thurrock and Hinckley Point and a series of troubles which arose because of the complexity in the number of contractors. I hope, therefore, that the talks will produce solutions which will avoid die present trouble.

Mr. Lougden

Has my right hon. Friend noticed some strictures made by Archbishop Heenan, of Liverpool, about shop stewards? If so, has he any proposals for dealing with that minority?

Mr. Hare

I dealt with that in what I said to the hon. Member for Coventry, North (Mr. Edelman). There is no doubt that all of us in the House agree that there are some shop stewards who let the whole side down and damage the whole trade union movement. This is a matter which the trade unions must take extremely seriously, because it is essential to ensure that official agreements, entered into freely between the two sides of industry, are not dishonoured by people who are working against official trade union advice.

Mr. Gunter

Would not the Minister agree also that shop stewards can be maligned because of the provocation and attitude of certain bad areas of management which still exist in industry?

Mr. Hare

There are obviously occasions when that happens, but it does not mean that my hon. Friend's Question is not perfectly relevant.

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