HC Deb 19 June 1956 vol 554 cc81-2W
67. Mr. W. J. Taylor

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that a dispute on overtime has recently reduced the output of crude steel by 6 per cent.; and what proposals he has for bringing this costly dispute to an end.

Mr. Carr

I am aware of this dispute and my officers have been in touch with both sides from an early stage. The dispute arose on 7th March when the trade unions representing the maintenance craftsmen in the steel industry rejected the offer of the same wage increase as had been accepted by the production workers. The employers have proposed that the dispute should be referred to arbitration in accordance with the practice of the industry, but the unions have so far been unwilling to follow this course. Since 28th April, they have been operating an overtime ban which has caused a serious loss in steel production. There appears to be no further action which my Department can take at this juncture.

68. Mr. Osborne

asked the Minister of Labour if he is aware that steel production for May was 20,612,000 tons against 21,896,000 tons for April, and 22,141,000 tons in March; how far this reduction is due to the ban on overtime by the maintenance workers; when and why the ban was imposed; what are the average wages of the men involved; and what steps he is taking to end the dispute so that greater production may once more be achieved.

Mr. Carr

The figures which my hon. Friend quotes refer not to monthly output, but to the annual rate of production in the months concerned. I am informed that the reduction in output in May was largely due to the ban on overtime by the maintenance craftsmen which was imposed on 28th April, following failure to agree on the unions' wages claim, although the Whitsun holidays fell in that month. I understand that the average weekly earnings of the men concerned are approximately £15 and that their average weekly hours are 49.

On the last part of the Question, would refer to my earlier reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bradford, North (Mr. W. J. Taylor).