HC Deb 05 March 1917 vol 91 cc57-8W

asked the Financial Secretary to the War Office whether he is aware that at a meeting on Saturday last the cutters in the London tailoring trade decided to ballot on the question of discontinuing work in sympathy with the employés of the firm of Messrs. Burberry, at Beading, whom they understand to be locked out by that firm because of their refusal to surrender their membership of the Garment Workers' Union; whether the cessation of work in the London tailoring factories would jeopardise the supply of military clothing; and whether in this case it is proposed to apply the provisions of the Munitions Act to the tailoring trade or in some other appropriate way to deal with the situation created by the recalcitrance of Messrs. Burberry?


My hon. Friend has asked me to reply to the question. My attention has been called to the dispute in question, and I have done my best to bring about a settlement. I regret that Messrs. Burberry's have not seen their way to accept the Chief Industrial Commissioner's offer of mediation, but I have no power to compel them to do so unless the firm are held to be engaged in the manufacture, transport, or supply of munitions of war within the meaning of Section 3 of the Munitions of War Act, 1915. This is a legal question which is under consideration, and I will inform my hon. Friend of my decision. I have, however, felt it my duty to warn the union representing the workers that any stoppage of work on Government contracts in sympathy with the employés of Messrs. Burberry's would necessarily be very seriously regarded by the Government. If the facts are as stated, I cannot help feeling that the action of the firm shows a deplorable want of that conciliatory spirit which in the general interest is so necessary in the relations between Capital and Labour, both now and after the War.