HC Deb 02 May 1972 vol 836 cc186-7
16. Mr. Hunt

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many stoppages of work due to industrial disputes have been recorded by his Department since 1st January, 1972, and how this figure compares with the same period in each of the past five years.

Mr. Maurice Macmillan

448 in the three months ending 31st March, 1972. For corresponding periods in earlier years the figures are: 1971–627; 1970–1,212; 1969–718; 1968–518; and 1967–529.

Mr. Hunt

Do not those very encouraging figures indicate that, far from increasing militancy, as was predicted, the effect of the Industrial Relations Act has been and will increasingly be to strengthen the hands of the moderates in the trade union movement?

Mr. Macmillan

Certainly I hope that that will be the case, and there is a very big reduction in the number of stoppages in 1972 compared with 1971 and 1970.

Mr. Prentice

The figures would be different if they were expressed in terms of days lost. Will the right hon. Gentleman accept that the figures for he coming weeks and months will depend largely on whether he succeeds in avoiding a national dock strike and that therefore I appeal to him urgently to respond to Mr. Jones's request for a meeting to discuss containerisation and other questions? Will the right hon. Gentleman see that that meeting takes place this week, irrespective of what is happening in the Industrial Relations Court?

Mr. Macmillan

In 1972 the number of days lost was higher than in recent years. In 1971, 86 per cent. of days lost were accounted for by two stoppages —in the Post Office and the Ford Motor Company. In 1972, 86 per cent. of the days lost were accounted for by the national coal mining stoppage. The number of actual stoppages, which the Donovan Commission emphasised was a most important indication of unrest in industry, is substantially down. I have replied to Mr. Jones's letter and I have indicated that I am very anxious to talk to him about the longer-term aspects of the difficulties in the docks, as indicated in his letter to me.

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