Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Tionnscál Góiséireachta.

D'fhiafruí

den Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála an bhfuil a fhios aige go bhfuil dochar mór dá dhéanamh i dTír Chonaill siocair an có-aontú páigh i ngnaithe an tionnscail ghóiséireachta a cláruigheadh ar an 16adh lá den mhí seo thart; go bhfuil gach duine i dTír Chonaill—eadar lucht oibre agus fostóirí—mí-shásta leis an cho-aontú; go bhfuil sé mí-réasúnta an tuarastal céadna a shocrú do Bhaile Atha Cliath agus d'áiteacha iargcúlta i dTír Chonaill agus an méid costais a bhéas ar an lucht deantais ins na háiteacha iargcúlta úd mar gheall ar chostas iomchair agus rudaí mar sin; go bhfuil an lucht déantais i dTír Chonaill ag rádh nach féidir léo coimhlint le lucht déantais na gcathrach má tá ortha an tuarastal céadna a dhíol; agus, sarar chláruigh sé an co-aontú, ar bhreithnigh sé na coinníollacha agus na deacrachtaí speisialta bhaineann leis an tionnscal góiséireachta i dTír Chonaill; agus, marar bhreithnigh agus má cuirtear cosc leis an tionnscal góiséireachta i dTír Chonaill, an bhfuil aon tslí eile ceaptha ag an Roinn chun obair do thabhairt do sna cailíní óga san Gheadhealtacht san.

I am not aware that any serious results have followed or should follow in the hosiery industry in County Donegal consequent on the registration of a wages agreement for the industry. This agreement was entered into by bodies substantially representative of employers and of workers interested in the hosiery industry and was presented and accepted for registration in accordance with Section 50 of the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936. The principal hosiery manufacturers in County Donegal were stated to be members of the employers' organisation which negotiated the agreement. The circumstances under which the industry is carried on in County Donegal were fully considered before registration was effected, and I understood that the rates of wages laid down were fixed on a lower basis than would otherwise have been agreed because of the inclusion of County Donegal in the area to which the agreement relates. Certain workers in County Donegal have protested against the low rates fixed, but their case seems to be adequately covered by the provisions of clause (e) of sub-section (4) of Section 50 of the Act.

Is the Minister aware that in fixing this rate of wages the same rates were fixed for operatives of power machines in Dublin and hand-frame machines in Donegal, and that the net result has been to take away from the Donegal operatives the greater part of their business and hand it over to the owners of power machines in Dublin and Cork? Is that the intention of the Minister?

I can merely inform the Deputy that the agreement was made by an organisation of employers which includes in its membership all the principal Donegal manufacturers.

Never mind the employers. I am not thinking of them. I am thinking of the unfortunate workers who are losing their living.

I did not make the agreement.

Will the Minister, before he consents to the permanent registration of the agreement, consult the Parliamentary Secretary of the Department of Lands, who is responsible for the Gaeltacht, and look into the special circumstances surrounding the existence of the people who are losing their livelihood in the Gaeltacht. I do not profess to know one thing or the other about it, but I want the Minister to hear the Gaeltacht workers on this matter. It may be that they are wrong.

The only representation that I received from workers in Donegal was a protest against the low rate of wages fixed, which was stated to be lower than those previously paid.

If the workers made representation to the Minister and desire to be heard, will he hear them and consider the whole question in the light of what they have to tell him?

The agreement was made with an organisation representative of the employers. If there is any question of the organisation not being representative of the employers, the agreement can be upset in the courts. In so far as there have been no proceedings suggested, I take it the representative character of the organisation which made the agreement is not questioned. Similarly with the trade unions which cater for the workers employed in the industry who are parties to the agreement. These two parties made an agreement which was presented for registration and they are responsible for it.

Is the Minister aware that the net result has been to deprive unfortunate people in the Gaeltacht of their means of livelihood? All I am asking is, will the Minister hear, not the employers about whom I do not care a fiddle-de-dee, as they can look after themselves, not the trade unions, about whom I do not care a fiddle-de-dee, as they can look after themselves, but the individual workers who have been kicked out of their jobs in West Donegal?

It is not the first time that an employer who wanted to pay low wages tried to create a ramp by temporarily sacking his workers.

I am asking the Minister will he hear these workers and question them and make inquiries as to whether it is an employer's ramp to whip them into making representations. If it is not a ramp, will the Minister——

Is it not obviously so on the face of it?

I do not know, but I ask the Minister to make inquiries.

The great majority of the employers agreed to these rates.

They own the machines in Dublin and Cork and want to take the work from the Gaeltacht. All I am trying to do is to retain the Gaeltacht workers in their jobs. I may be wrong, but all I am asking the Minister is, if they come to him to state their case, will he meet and discuss it confidentially with them?

All I know is that the organisation of employers that made the agreement included in its membership all these Donegal employers the Deputy is talking about.

Never mind the employers. If the workers come and ask the Minister to see them and discuss the matter confidentially with them, will he receive them?

No, I will not—certainly not. I received an agreement signed by persons who purport to be representative of the workers. If there is any suggestion that they are not, the agreement can be upset on that ground also.

Has the Minister not received representations from workers, apart from the employers, who are losing money by the proposed agreement? Has he received representations from workers in Donegal to the effect that the proposed scale is going to cut down their wages for years? It may come all right when they have served so many years—five, six or seven years—but in the meantime where are they going to?

I have received some communications from individual workers on the matter. The only organised representation I received on behalf of workers in Donegal came from Ballyshannon and was a protest against the low rate of wages fixed.

About 120 people lost their jobs last week.

Is the Minister aware that the employers in some cases are trying to intimidate the workers.

Ceist 18.

D'fhiafruí

den Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála cia mhéid oibrithe ins an tionnscal góiséireachta i dTír Chonaill a chaill na postanna a bhí aca no atá faoi fhuagra ó cláruigheadh an có-aontú fá'n tionnscal sin ar an 16adh lá den mhí seo thart.

I have no official information on the subject of this question. I know of no reason why any workers in the hosiery industry in Donegal should have lost their employment or be under notice of dismissal because a wages agreement was registered in accordance with Section 50 of the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936.

Do I understand that, if the workers in Donegal have objections to the present situation, the only action they can take is to challenge in the courts the justice of the agreement entered into, and that the Minister has no power to intervene in the matter at this stage?

The workers have no power to challenge in the courts the justice of the agreement. The only way in which the agreement can now be upset is by a successful case in the courts based on the ground that the persons who signed the agreement were not properly representative of either of the parties.

Does the Minister say, if workers are being disemployed in Donegal, that that is the only type of intervention to remedy the situation that there can be and that he cannot intervene in the matter?

The agreement has been registered.

Will the Minister set up a commission or court of inquiry to inquire into the matter?

Who will compose it?

We were told that representations were not made, but the grievance is there. Will the Minister look into it and see what is wrong? Never mind about the courts—we do not want any courts.

If the Deputy or anybody else were setting up a commission on this matter who would be put on it?

The Minister alone.

The Minister alone.

He would put on the commission representatives of the organisation of the employers in the industry and representatives of the workers in the industry, and that is the body that concluded the agreement.

No, I would not. I would put on the Minister alone.

And that is the body that concluded the agreement.

This is a case which was put to me. It is from the workers' side of the question, and what it amounts to is that the present arrangements now proposed are not suitable to the workers. I would ask the Minister to look into that, from his Department, personally.