HC Deb 26 February 1970 vol 796 cc1373-4
10. Mr. Ellis

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what action she is taking on recent recommendations of the Commission for Industrial Relations about the recognition of trade unions by the employers concerned.

Mrs. Castle

The Commission for Industrial Relations has issued four re- ports containing recommendations about the recognition of trade unions. At companies covered by two of these reports recognition issues have been settled. My officials have had discussions with the parties concerned in the other two reports —The Associated Octet Company Limited and General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation Limited—and further meetings are being arranged.

Mr. Ellis

Does my right hon. Friend agree that some of the disputes which arise from non-recognition are the most intractable and difficult? In the far South-West, for instance, some employers have a mediaeval outlook. Will she say what she intends to do and whether the Bill she is preparing will encompass this point and put it right?

Mrs. Castle

I agree with my hon. Friend that if we want good industrial relations we must find an effective way of dealing with the issues of trade union recognition. I am dealing with it immediately through this reference to the C.I.R. and in the Industrial Relations Bill I am preparing to put before Parliament there will be powers to follow up reports when necessary.

Mr. Dudley Smith

When there is a dispute as to union recognition, would it not be better to settle it by a secret ballot than by a decision imposed from on high by another body, however well meaning?

Mrs. Castle

No, I do not think we can deal with very complex and varied situations by one rather mechanistic answer. The use of a ballot might have a place in dealing with certain of these troublesome disagreements about recognition, but I think the Commission's report showed that we need a more flexible approach, and this is what it has brought.