HC Deb 22 April 1964 vol 693 cc1279-80
31. Miss Vickers

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will institute an inquiry into the wage structure of the unskilled labourers in Her Majesty's Dockyards especially for those who by nature of the job are never able to earn any overtime.

Mr. Hay

The new wage structure for these men, which became fully effective from 1st April, 1964, was agreed with the trade unions concerned after prolonged negotiations, during which the industrial wage structure in all Government engineering establishments came under consideration. I do not consider that a further inquiry is necessary. As I informed my hon. Friend on 14th April last, most of the unskilled labourers in Her Majesty's Dockyards have the opportunity of working some overtime.

Miss Vickers

Is my hon. Friend aware that that is a very disappointing reply? Does he realise, when we talk about an affluent society, that many of these people have to live on £ 10 3s. a week with no opportunity at all for overtime? As they are in Her Majesty's Government's employ, surely the Government can give a lead to see that this position is rectified?

Mr. Hay

I think we should be careful to remember what we are talking about. We tare talking about unskilled labourers. The basic rate and the rate now being paid is the average of the rates paid in 34 large and representative industries. There is no question of unskilled labourers in Her Majesty's Dockyards being singled out for particularly unfavourable treatment.

Dr. Bray

Will the Under-Secretary say whether the arrangements include any allowance for the increase in the cost of living and, if so, whether the Department considers it is bound by this clause as a contractual obligation or whether it will stand by it so feebly as it did in 1961?

Mr. Hay

I cannot without notice answer the first part of that supplementary question, except to say that between July, 1962, and April, 1964, there has been an increase of £1 4s 2d in the basic rate.

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