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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 26 Nov 1942

Vol. 88 No. 19

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Basic Wage Rates.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state if it is his intention under Emergency Powers Order 166—Wages Standard Rate Order—to establish for any or every industry or trade, basic rates of wages of the nature or kind which were contemplated to be established under Section 50 of the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936; and, if so, if it is the intention of the Minister to regard the standard rate determined by such Order as being applicable to every firm in the industry or trade in the area in respect of which such Order is made; and if he will permit the operatives through their unions to enforce, under the Trades Disputes Act of 1906, the rates established by such Order.

Applications for Wages (Standard Rate) Orders may be made either by a licensed trade union or by a body representative of workers of a particular class in a particular district. It may not be made save on such application. A Wages (Standard Rate) Order may apply to all workers of a particular class named in the Order, or to such workers when employed in stated areas or by named employers. When such an Order is made the employers concerned are permitted to pay the rates prescribed in the Order, and trade unions may take action under the Trades Disputes Act for their enforcement.

That is as regards persons who make applications, or individual trades. What I want to know is if the Minister proposes to do by Emergency Powers Order No. 166 what he has been unable to do by Section 50 of the Conditions of Employment Act?

An Order applying to all workers of a particular class can be made, but there must be an application by a licensed trade union or by representatives of the workers.

If one firm or if workers in one firm make application and succeed in getting it granted, will that apply to all similar workers in similar trades in the area? Have they to make separate applications? Is that so?

That is so. I wish to encourage, and I have been trying to encourage, applications of a general nature, but, in so far as the Order stands at present, it can only apply to workers of whom it can be said that those who applied for the Order were representative.

The Minister sees my difficulty. I want to know, if an application for an increase under such conditions is granted in an area, would it apply to all other trades in the area without a further application being necessary?

No. I have no power under the Order except to act on an application. I cannot act on my own initiative.

Will the Minister not take power to do so?

I do not say that.

It would save a great deal of trouble.

If there are ten firms in the area and if one firm stands out and does not agree to make an application for a bonus Order——

The question does not relate to bonus Orders. It relates to standard rate Orders.

If an individual firm stands out, will it be compelled to observe the standard rate Order?

An application for a standard rate Order can be made by the workers alone and, provided the workers making application are representative, then it can be made. The employers' assent is not required.

I take it that each firm must apply separately.

No. A licensed trade union can apply in respect of a class.

It can apply for an Order?

But there is no power to compel an individual firm except by a trade union application.

The Deputy misunderstands the situation. This question relates to Wages Standard Rate Orders.

And bonus Orders.

No. Bonus Orders are different. The purpose of a Standard Rate Order is to have a standard rate fixed for an occupation, and once that standard rate is fixed an employer can pay or a worker take action to enforce that standard rate.

It should be an Order from the Minister that the employer should pay rather than have a strike.

I think there is a great deal of force in that argument.

I am glad. I hope the Minister will take a note of it.