HC Deb 21 October 1968 vol 770 cc864-5
12. Mr. Moyle

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity whether she will introduce legislation laying an obligation on foreign firms operating in the United Kingdom to negotiate with trade unions in this country.

The Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity (Mrs. Barbara Castle)

Trade union recognition and effective collective bargaining are among the topics on which I am consulting industry in the light of the Royal Commission's recommendations.

Mr. Moyle

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend, who is looking into this matter. Does she not agree that as the nationalised industries have been put under an obligation to negotiate with trade union organisations, there can be no obstacle in principle to solving the problem on the lines I suggest in my Question?

Mrs. Castle

The Royal Commission did not find that there was any particular problem of trade union recognition in connection with foreign firms. This rather forms part of the whole problem of dealing with non-unionism. As I said, we are consulting about the application of the Donovan recommendations.

Sir A. V. Harvey

Is the right hon. Lady aware that most foreign companies co-operate exceedingly well with the trade unions concerned and have excellent labour relations? I can quote one company which has not had a strike in 94 years.

Mrs. Castle

The practice varies with foreign firms, just as it does with British firms. Some foreign firms are very good in this matter, while others have caused difficulties by refusing to recognise unionism. As I say, we must consider this in the context of the Donovan Report as a whole.

Mr. John Page

Will the right hon. Lady make it clear that she is not proposing any separate legislation or discrimination against properly controlled foreign firms in this country as opposed to home based firms?

Mrs. Castle

I thought that my replies made that clear and I have repeated it more than once. This is not a problem which can be considered separately from the problems of non unionism as a whole.

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