HC Deb 22 April 1975 vol 890 cc1222-3
4. Mr. Rost

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will arrange for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to assist in settling the dispute affecting the business of F. B. Atkins and Sons Limited of Derby, whose vehicles are being blacklisted by the Transport and General Workers' Union from using the container base at Perry Barr, Birmingham.

The Minister of State, Department of Employment (Mr. Albert Booth)

As I told the hon. Member in answer to a Written Question on 11th April, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is endeavouring to assist in the resolution of this dispute.

Mr. Rost

Why do not the Government support the lorry drivers and the management of the firm, who are being bullied and blackmailed by an official of the Transport and General Workers' Union into breaching the guidelines of the social contract? Is it not time the Government came off the fence and defended their own social contract, and prevented jobs from being lost?

Mr. Booth

I understand that the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has arranged a meeting between the parties to the dispute, which is to take place tomorrow afternoon. In view of that fact, I do not think that it would be helpful in seeking a solution for me to comment on any allegations against either of the parties to the dispute.

Mr. Leslie Huckfield

Is my hon. Friend aware that I have in my possession a copy of a letter from one of Atkins' shop stewards giving details of gross violations in the regulations concerning drivers' hours and of undue management pressure on drivers? That letter was sent to the Minister for Transport with a request for an inquiry. Is my hon. Friend further aware that the reason why these vehicles are being blacked in Birmingham is not to do with wages—which is a red herring—but concerns the firm's insistence on using tachographs, which is against the national policy of the Transport and General Workers' Union?

Mr. Booth

For a considerable time there has been no legal obligation on hauliers to fit tachographs. I understand that a complaint has been made against the firm in respect of the excessive hours worked by its drivers. That is a matter for the licensing authority and is currently being investigated. On the other matters raised by my hon. Friend, I give him the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost), that it is not advisable for me to comment on the dispute if we wish to see a solution to it.