HC Deb 31 October 1966 vol 735 cc27-8
43. Mr. Shinwell

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will approach the existing dock labour organisations in the London docks with a view to their amalgamation in order to avoid demarcation disputes which have caused unemployment to dock employees.

56. Mr. Alan Lee Williams

asked the Minister of Labour whether he will consider appointing an inquiry into the demarcation dispute between the two unions concerned in the Millwall Dock dispute.

Mr. Gunter

I have appointed a Court of Inquiry into the immediate difficulties, and normal working has been resumed.

Efforts to improve relations between the two organisations concerned have been made over a long period and are being continued, but it would not be appropriate or help matters for me to propose amalgamation.

Mr. Shinwell

My right hon. Friend must be aware that the existence of these two important dock labour unions, both in the London Docks, in Merseyside and elsewhere, has been a source of much trouble over a period of years. What is the purpose of having a Court of Inquiry after the dispute begins when there is a possibility of preventing the dispute from taking place? In spite of the difficulties that are entailed, will he make a further effort to bring these two important unions together with a view to amalgamation?

Mr. Gunter

Certainly I will do everything within my power, but I remind my right hon. Friend—with his long experience I am sure that he will take the point—that the responsibility for solving this inter-union warfare within the docks at least ought to be shared with the General Council of the Trades Union Congress, and they have been trying to come to terms with it. If my right hon. Friend wants me to say that the solution to many of our problems in the docks would be one union, I would entirely agree with him. In the efforts which I am making to have a common registration in the docks we may make a move in that direction.

Sir C. Osborne

What are the grave difficulties that prevent this sensible amalgamation between these two competing unions?

Mr. Gunter

I would only say to the hon. Gentleman that he should turn to the history of industrial relations in the docks.

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