HC Deb 11 May 1964 vol 695 cc27-9
30. Mr. Edelman

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that Messrs. Decorwall Limited, Wallpaper Manufacturers Retail Division, dismissed an employee in Coventry for joining the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers and have since refused to reinstate him and nine other employees who went on strike in protest against his dismissal; and, as the company refuses to meet the union despite the intervention of his conciliation officers, whether, in the interest of a public policy which accepts that trade union association is a right, he will ensure that no further Government contracts are placed with Wallpaper Manufacturers Ltd., owners of Messrs. Decorwall.

Mr. Whitelaw

This firm has assured our officers that the employee in question was not dismissed for joining a trade union. In these circumstances, my right hon. Friend does not think it would be appropriate to pursue the hon. Member's suggestion.

Mr. Edelman

As proof that the company concerned is not telling the truth, is it not the case that the eight employees allegedly intimidated by the manager came out on strike in support of him? Is it not further the case that Wallpaper Manufacturers Ltd. has been condemned by the Monopolies Commission for its activities contrary to the public interest? Is it not known to the Minister, as it is well known in Coventry, that the company has refused to recognise trade unionism in its retail shops? In view of that, is not this yet another example of its activities contrary to the public interest?

Mr. Whitelaw

I am simply not prepared to accept that what the firm has told my right hon. Friend is not true.

Mr. Hocking

Is my hon. Friend aware that this company has enjoyed excellent labour relations with the trade union movement over a long period of years? Is he also aware that one of the reasons given for this man being dismissed was that he misused stamps and stationery? Is not this a just and sound reason for an employer sacking a man?

Mr. Whitelaw

I prefer to stick to what I said—that the firm has assured my right hon. Friend that the employee in question was not dismissed for joining a trade union. That is what we have been told, and that is a statement which I accept. I am glad to hear what my hon. Friend says about the firm's relations with the trade union movement.

Mr. Gunter

In view of all the confusion on the facts, would the hon. Gentleman agree that the best thing to do would be for the union to meet the employers and to sort the matter out?

Mr. Whitelaw

I understand that this firm has very good relations with its trade union, and always has had.

Mr. Edelman

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise the matter on the Adjournment.

Mr. Manuel

Expose them.