§ Mr. Iain Macleod
Yes. Last September members of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers employed by Messrs. Cammell Laird, Limited, Birkenhead, went on strike as a result of a dispute between the Society and the National Union of Sheet Metalworkers and Braziers as to who should perform certain operations in connection with the insulation of three fruit ships which were under construction.
The strike was ended by two agreements made on 23rd October—one between the firm and the two unions and the other between the firm and the Woodworkers only. This second agreement related to the operation of drilling and was terminated shortly afterwards by the firm on the ground that if it were put into operation there would be a strike on the part of drillers, who are members of the Shipwrights Association and claimed the drilling work, and others who supported their claim. The Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers thereupon withdrew all their members in the Yard. The number on strike is about 450 whilst several hundred other workers have lost their employment as a result of the stoppage.
My officers have been in touch with the parties throughout. Their efforts culminated in a meeting on 1st February under the Ministry's auspices between the firm and the Woodworkers' Society, but unfortunately it was not found possible 207W to make any progress towards a settlement.
Hon. Members will be aware that the Trades Union Congress has now had informal discussions with the unions concerned.