HC Deb 02 June 1981 vol 5 c765
6. Mr. John Carlisle

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that employees dismissed under closed shop agreements are adequately compensated under the Employment Act 1980.

Mr. Prior

As yet there have been no reported industrial tribunal decisions on cases of unfair dismissal arising under the Employment Act's closed shop provisions. We are keeping the operation of the Act under close review and we shall not hesitate to make further changes in the law, if they are shown to be necessary.

Mr. Carlisle

Is my right hon. Friend aware of the strong feeling in the country that simply to increase industrial compensation is far from satisfactory and that the only real answer is reinstatement of employment?

Mr. Prior

I am aware of the strong feelings, particularly about the actions of Sandwell and Walsall council, and the people dismissed under such circumstances. An industrial tribunal has the right to demand reinstatement. However, it has never been part of our tradition or law that employers should be forced to take back people whom they do not wish to employ. That is why there is a third part to industrial tribunal compensation which allows additional compensation in such cases.

Mr. John Evans

Will the Secretary of State comment about the many hundreds of workers who every year lose their jobs because of their trade union activities? Will he legislate along those lines?

Mr. Prior

Such people can also go to industrial tribunals.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

Will my right hon. Friend bear it in mind that it is possible to sustain the proposition that the outlawing of the closed shop would serve no purpose and at the same time feel that the way in which Labour-controlled local authorities are using tenders as a means of forcing the extension of the closed shop without any regard to the views of those involved and affected is something with which the Government must deal?

Mr. Prior

I agree that there is abuse. It is covered by the discussions on the Green Paper. It might also—I cannot go further than this—be a breach of the Competition Act. It is a matter that has to be dealt with.

Mr. Skinner

Have not the Minister and the Government a cheek to talk about a few people who have been dismissed under closed shop agreements when in the last 12 months the Government have sacked 1 million workers through their economic policies? Is he aware that that has resulted in more than 2½ million people being out of work and the massive people's march which took place in the last month? Why is the Secretary of State not encouraging the Prime Minister to hold an industrial tribunal for the sacked Navy Minister?

Mr. Prior

Most hon. Members think that the sacking, at a time of high unemployment, of tea ladies and dinner ladies and people dismissed under such circumstances as those prevailing at Sandwell and Walsall, simply because they refused to join a trade union, is utterly wrong and should be condemned.