Industrial Relations Bill, 1946—Committee Stage (Resumed).
Amendment No. 71(a), by leave, with drawn.
Section 31 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 72:—
In page 12, line 26, to delete the words "Joint Labour Committee". and substitute therefor the words "Joint Employment Committee".
The purpose of the suggestion to use the term "joint employment committee" instead of "joint labour committee" is to avoid confusion. It is generally accepted that where the word "labour" is applied to machinery or to matters relating generally to the industrial field, it is regarded as applying to workers on the trade union side. In this case, we are dealing with a joint committee of workers and employers and the Minister might consider that the term suggested would be more satisfactory.
I can see some objection to the term "joint employment committee" as being perhaps confusing to workers, in so far as they might regard the committee as having functions in the matter of finding employment. I was anxious to get away from the old name of trade board, mainly because the proposals here enlarge the functions of the committee to cover workers in a class other than trades and it seemed to me that "joint labour committee" was as good a phrase as I could devise. I prefer it to "joint employment committee", but it is of no great importance, and if somebody can think of a better name between now and Report, I shall be glad to have it.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 32 and 33 agreed to.
Amendment No. 73 not moved.
I move amendment No. 74:—
To delete all words from "on the grounds" in page 12, line 48, to the end of the section.
This is a drafting amendment, consequential on a later amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 75 and 76 not moved.
Section 34, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 77:—
Before Section 35 to insert the following section:—
The court shall not make an establishment order in respect of any workers and their employers unless the court is satisfied—
(a) in case the application is made by an organisation or a group of persons claiming to be representative of such workers or such employers, that the claim is well-founded, and
(b) that either—
(i) there is substantial agreement between such workers and their employers to the establishment of a joint labour committee, or
(ii) the existing machinery for effective regulation of remuneration and other conditions of employment of such workers is inadequate or is likely to cease or to cease to be adequate, or
(iii) having regard to the existing rates of remuneration or conditions of employment of such workers, it is expedient that a joint labour committee should be established.
The view was expressed here during the discussion on Second Reading and was also expressed to me by the organisation of trade unions that it was desirable to increase the opportunities for the establishment of joint labour committees. As the Bill was introduced, the court could agree to the establishment of a committee on the grounds that the existing machinery for the effective regulation of remuneration and conditions of employment was inadequate and likely to remain inadequate or to cease to exist and that the existing rates of remuneration and conditions were such that it was desirable to set up such a committee. It was considered that the field was too limited by that phraseology and this amendment will empower the court to make an establishment order if there is substantial agreement between the workers concerned and their employers with regard to a committee, or if the existing machinery for the regulation of remuneration is inadequate or conditions in the industry are such that it is desirable that such a committee should be established. The view seems to be fairly general that it is desirable that the court should not be unduly restricted in considering applications of this kind.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 35 deleted.
I move amendment No. 78:—
To delete lines 19, 20 and 21 and substitute the following words "and, subject to Section 35 of this Act, the following provisions shall have effect—".
This is consequential.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 79:—
In paragraph (b), sub-paragraph (ii), line 30, to insert after the word "days" the words "or later than forty-five days".
It was suggested that the period should be altered in this respect.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 36, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 80:—
In sub-section (1), line 46, to insert after the word "may" the words "subject to Section 35 of this Act".
This is also consequential on amendment No. 77.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 81:—
In sub-section (2), line 52, to insert after the word "date", the following "(not being later than fourteen days after the date on which it is so published)".
It is considered that this amendment would have the effect of accelerating the establishment of a joint labour committee as soon as the court has held an inquiry. It provides that where the court makes an establishment order, the order will come into operation not later than 14 days from the date of publication of the order.
On this question of periods and days, in Section 36 there is a period of 45 days after the date of publication prescribed with regard to the holding of the inquiry and it is now provided that the setting up of a joint labour committee will take place within 14 days after making the order; but there is a gap between the holding of the inquiry and the making of the order. The Minister will be aware that, on previous occassions, that gap was fairly considerable and I think it should be kept in mind that there should not be delay on the part of the court itself in considering its decision on the completion of the inquiry. There is no point in putting in periods with regard to publication and the setting up of a committee if the court itself can give rise to delay.
The old legislation had fixed periods for everything which we are trying to eliminate in the belief that it will result in expedition.
That is so, but we now have elasticity in the middle.
I do not know that we could, in fact, put a fixed period in here, without providing for certain consequences. The court holds an inquiry. How long the court might have to consider the result of the inquiry before coming to a decision and making an order is difficult to say. My objection to fixed periods is that it is not quite clear what happens if the fixed period is overrun—whether the court would have to go back over the whole process. It is probably better to leave it without any statutory limit.
So long as we do not have a period like eight months, as in the case of the last inquiry.
The intention of all these provisions is to expedite the procedure.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 37, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 38 and 39 agreed to.
With regard to amendment No. 82, in the name of Deputy Byrne, I had some doubts about the amendment, but I expect that a joint labour committee would be empowered to advert to conditions of employment, and I am, therefore, allowing the amendment.
I move amendment No. 82:—
In sub-section (1), after the word "remuneration", line 20, to insert the words "and for not less than two weeks' holiday with pay".
My proposal is that the court should have power to decide that all workers, regardless of the type of employment they are at, shall have as their national right two weeks' holidays with full pay. The Government has, to a certain extent, gone a good way about meeting the demand for holidays, but numbers of workers get no holidays with pay. I refer to casual dockers at the North Wall.
They are not covered by this provision. The Deputy had better confine himself to the amendment. Dockers at the North Wall are not subject to a trade board.
I am asking that legislation should be passed for that purpose.
That is not the amendment. The Deputy's amendment is limited to a small class.
I want the Minister to include those who can get no holidays, and I have in mind dockers in Dublin.
This amendment does not apply to them.
I am being upset before I make my case.
I am trying to hold the Deputy to the amendment.
If the Chair permits me to make a statement, what I have in mind is that every worker should have the right to a fortnight's holidays with pay. I am asking the Minister to amend the legislation, so that all workers will have that right. That is the position in New Zealand.
The Deputy should confine himself to his amendment.
That is what I am trying to do. There is a determined effort to stop me.
There is no effort on the part of the Chair.
A campaign has started. If Deputy McGilligan or some of the other big wigs were speaking they would be able to give sharp answers.
I allowed this amendment, of which I had grave doubts, and the Deputy should confine himself to the amendment. Some of the classes he mentioned do not come under this Bill.
Section 40, according to the marginal note, deals with "proposals by joint labour committees in relation to remuneration and conditions of employment". I hold that the words "conditions of employment" include a reference to holidays with pay.
For the classes that come under this Bill.
Sub-section (1) of the section reads:—
"Subject to the provisions of this section, a joint labour committee may submit to the court proposals for fixing the minimum rates of remuneration to be paid either generally or for any particular work to all or any of the workers in relation to whom the committee operates, and such proposals may provide for a minimum weekly remuneration for any of such workers."
I want to add "and for not less than two weeks' holidays with pay". This is the place to advocate legislation. If I cannot advocate it here without the Minister concerned jumping up to try to put me off my argument, and Deputies coming to his rescue to try to silence me——
The Minister does not require any Deputy to come to his rescue.
I want holidays with pay for all workers, especially those who may be controlled by this court. If they are not controlled by this court, I am asking that they shall be included in any rights or privileges that may be enshrined in any Bill the Minister may bring in for the determination of conditions of employment of workers generally. I have in mind the present unfortunate dispute at the North Wall.
This amendment has nothing to do with the dispute at the North Wall.
I am asking that any further trouble of the kind should be forestalled by amending legislation. That may be brought about in a friendly atmosphere and may stop strikes. We spent the whole day yesterday arguing in a good-humoured way in an effort to find a remedy to stop strikes. I am making a suggestion to help to stop the strike at the North Wall. I put it to the Minister that he ought to accept the amendment, and do what other countries are doing to overcome difficulties arising out of casual employment.
If the Deputy wanted to bring that in in respect to this Bill he should have had other amendments in.
I searched the Bill to see where I could put in amendments. This amendment has been tabled for the last three weeks and nobody notified me that discussion would be limited.
If the Deputy had read the Bill he would have understood that.
I read every line of the Bill because I was more interested than other members of the House in stopping strikes and in getting good conditions for workers. In my constituency a fight is now going on, and women and others——
The Deputy must confine himself to the amendment. He must be relevant.
I am making a case for holidays with pay for workers at the North Wall. If I cannot do it here what am I to do? I want to try to stop strikes.
That is not relevant. The Deputy should realise, as he was informed, that the Chair has grave doubts about the relevancy of the amendment. Within certain limits it was relevant, but the Deputy has spent most of his time dealing with what is not relevant. The Chair was lenient with the Deputy.
There was an effort to upset me.
I think it was unfair of the Minister to forestall your ruling and not allow me to discuss a matter which seriously affects the City of Dublin, and more especially shipping in my constituency.
The Deputy must resume his seat. He has really not been relevant.
I hold that I am relevant.
This part of the Bill concerns trade board industries. It deals only with trade boards. It has nothing to do with dockers or with any similar class of workers. The Deputy does not understand what his amendment sets out to achieve. If his amendment was carried it would apply only to trade board industries. It would not affect dockers or any other classes that, in the past, were not subject to trade boards. The purpose of this part of the Bill is to extend the functions of the trade boards, so as to give power in future to deal with conditions of employment and rates of wages. If the Deputy understood that, he would realise that for the first time we are giving trade boards power to prescribe conditions of employment, including holidays for workers in trade board industries. I am quite certain that the Deputy flatters himself he has achieved his purpose of putting down this amendment in which he was very largely motivated in blowing his own trumpet. Now that the matter has been explained to him, I am sure he will realise how invidious it would be for us to put in a provision of this kind and apply it only to the very limited class of workers to whom this amendment relates. If there is to be a statutory obligation to provide longer holidays with pay that can be done by amending the Holidays (Employees) Act. I think it is far more desirable to have joint labour committees with power to prescribe these conditions and give them the force of law, according to the circumstances of each industry, and that is what this Bill proposes to do.
Cannot this Bill do that under sub-section (2)?
Amendment put and declared lost.
I move amendment No. 83:—
In sub-section (1), page 14, line 20, before the word "any" to insert the words "all or".
I am not quite sure whether this amendment is necessary.
No, I do not think it is necessary.
Because it seems to me that in one portion of the section we are talking about minimum rates of remuneration and in the end we are talking about minimum weekly remuneration. I put it down in order to get that point clarified.
It is quite clear that a joint labour committee may provide for weekly minimum remuneration for all workers covered by the committee and that is a change in the existing law.
Is that the position, though?
Then, that would justify my amendment. I thought the idea was that the proposals to provide minimum weekly remuneration applied only to portion of the workers.
Oh, no, it could apply to all.
What is the idea then of using the phrase: "to all or any" in line 18 and using only: "for any" in line 20? I thought you had another object in view, namely, to make it clear that "any" indicated that minimum weekly remuneration was only for portion of the workers.
"Minimum rates of remuneration to be paid either generally or for any particular work to all or any of the workers in relation to whom the committee operates, and such proposals may provide for a minimum weekly remuneration for any of such workers.""Any" there includes "all".
If that is quite clear I am satisfied.
Naturally, I had the necessity for this amendment examined and I am quite certain, as a result of that examination, that there can be no doubt on that point.
I suggest you delete the word "of", if that is the interpretation you give it. If you put in "any of such workers" I think you make a distinction.
It seems to me "any of such workers" is limiting in its effect.
It does permit the joint committee to prescribe minimum rates for some of the workers covered by the committee and not for others. It does not have to prescribe minimum rates for all such workers.
Can the committee make proposals to provide minimum weekly wages for all?
I say "any" includes "all".
Is it perfectly clear that it may include all and that it is intended to include all?
If the Deputy has any doubt on the subject we will put the amendment in. I do not think it adds to it and I think it safer to stick to the draftsman's draft.
Anybody considering this afterwards will ask "why did the Minister say to `all or any of the' in line 18 and when he came to line 20 why did he use the phrase `for any of' "? If you harmonise the phrases I think the position will be all right.
Rather than have any argument about it I will accept it.
Amendment put and agreed to.
On the section, a question arose previously in regard to trade boards and possibly the Minister might give some consideration to it now, that is, the existing regulation that where an alteration is made in existing conditions and a new schedule is issued a further change cannot be made for a period of six months. There is a good deal of objection to that among the workers covered by trade boards. Possibly we shall not have the same radical changes in the future as we had in the past six years, but we might have radical changes in relation to working conditions and I think some discretion should be allowed to the committee in that respect.
The issue that arises here is, I think, clear. If the State puts the authority of the law behind rates of wages for a particular class of workers there should, at the same time, be a reasonable assurance to the employers that there will not be further changes in a very short space of time. Employers are obliged to publish notices and maintain records and so forth and it is not unreasonable to give them an assurances that, if we prescribe new rates and make them legally enforceable, these rates will not be changed for at least six months. There were exceptional circumstances during the war because conditions fluctuated rapidly but that will not be so in normal times. We would not regard it as unreasonable to provide that where new rates are made they should hold for at least six months before they are again changed.
Section 40, as amended, agreed to.
Section 41 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 84:—
To insert before sub-section (1) a new sub-section as follows:—
(1) The employer of a worker to whom an employment regulation order applies, shall—
(a) in case the order fixes remuneration, pay to such worker remuneration not less than the statutory minimum remuneration,
(b) in case the order fixes conditions of employment, grant to such worker conditions of employment not less favourable than the statutory conditions of employment.
It might be argued that this amendment is not necessary but I think it is desirable that it should be inserted in order to clear up any doubt which may exist as to whether an employer covered by an employment regulation order is bound to observe the statutory conditions fixed under such employment regulation order. The employer will not be debarred from giving more favourable conditions, other than the statutory ones, if he so desires.
Amendment put and agreed to.
Section 42, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 85:—
In sub-section (2), line 40, after the word "court" to insert the words "before which the charge is laid".
It seems to me that in respect of Section 43 we are really mixing up two courts.
What I want to make clear is that the court referred to in Section 43 is not the same court as is referred to in the earlier sections.
I think the use of the phrase "shall be liable on summary conviction" makes it quite clear that it is the ordinary court which is being referred to here.
But under Section 30 we give power to the industrial court to impose fines.
They are not fines. The labour court has no power to impose a fine. It has power to direct an employer to pay moneys due to a worker and, if the employer does not comply, the matter then goes before the ordinary courts to be dealt with as an offence against the law.
It does not actually impose a fine but it does decide the question as to whether the person should pay or not. If it comes to the conclusion that such a person is guilty then that person is liable to the fines indicated in Section 30, sub-section (3). Obviously the Bill at one stage is referring to an industrial court while in a later stage the phrase "the court" is used as if it were the main court. I think the two courts should be clearly distinguished. At the risk of putting in these few words, I think such clarification is desirable.
If the Deputy will leave it over I will get the draftsman to examine it. It seems to me that the reference to summary conviction makes it clear which court is intended. If there is any possibility of confusion, however, I shall have the matter clarified.
The industrial court cannot summarily convict anybody.
I regard the Minister's promised examination of the matter as covering amendments Nos. 85, 86, 88, 89, 93, 94 and 95.
As to whether there is any possibility of confusion as to the court. It is intended to be the ordinary court of law.
The initiative in the matter will be taken by the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 86 not moved.
I move amendment No. 87:—
In sub-section (4), paragraph (a), line 6, to delete the word "two" and substitute the word "three".
This amendment was suggested by some of the trade union organisations who thought the period of two years should be extended to three years.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 43, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 44 and 45 agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 88 and 89 not moved.
I move amendment No. 90:—
In sub-section (1), page 17, line 15, after the word "apprenticeship" to insert the words "approved for the purpose of this sub-section by a joint employment committee".
I am prepared to accept the amendment, but the Dáil may have some view on the matter.
The amendment tightens up the section.
Will it want to be redrafted?
Deputy Larkin in framing the amendment had not regard, perhaps, to the change in the title of the committee. If there is no objection, perhaps it could be changed to joint labour committee.
We can still have another designation on the Report Stage?
We may still think of a better title.
Shall we put in "joint labour committee"?
It may necessitate some redrafting of the section, but I will have that matter examined.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 91 not moved.
Question proposed: "That Section 46, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
Is it clear, with amendment No.90, that it will be only with the joint employment committee that the question of apprenticeship will arise? Could there be a case of apprenticeship with an employer without that intervention? The Minister may find that he has got into a position in which there might be employers that would not exactly come under that definition.
I will examine that. I have a feeling that we shall have to take this whole question of apprenticeship and control of apprenticeship under examination again. I do not know that the Act of 1931 is working out exactly as we hoped.
Question put and agreed to.
Amendment No. 92 not moved.
Section 47 agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 93 and 94 not moved.
Sections 48 and 49 agreed to.
Amendment No. 95 not moved.
Section 50 agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 51 stand part of the Bill."
Will the inspector under this Part be an officer of the court or of the Minister?
An officer of the Minister. It is the Minister who will be solely responsible for enforcement.
The Minister will be prosecuting?
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 52, 53, 51 and 55 agreed to.
I move amendment No.96:—
In sub-section (2), page 20, to delete paragraph (a) in line 19, and substitute therefor:—
(a) the cost of maintaining in that area a normal family in a condition of working efficiency.
This particular section requires that the court may, on its own motion, on the application of any interested party, fix in respect of an area a minimum rate of wages which, although not enforceable, will be regarded as a kind of moral standard. Under sub-section (2), in fixing the standard wage, the court will have regard to the most recent cost-of-living number. The purpose of the amendment is to try to give some reality to the work of the court in its effort to arrive at what would be a satisfactory standard rate. I think it it quite clear that in this case the court will be going into an area to try to arrive at a rate of wages related to the conditions in that area which may be regarded as a fair rate. In many cases, there will be no previous standards to guide them and, certainly, such existing standards as may operate will, in most cases, at least so far as existing experience is concerned, have very little relation to the actual needs of the persons working under these standards and, certainly, not very much relation to the actual needs in relation to the requirements of a normal working-class family.
The only direction that it is sought to give in paragraph (a) is that of the cost-of-living index figure. That figure may be to some extent a guide, even if a very unsatisfactory guide, in relation to changes in existing rates. Where there is, say, a rate of wages of 50/- related to an index number of 100, if there is a change in the number of to 120, there may be some basis for an alteration. But, to take the cost-of-living index figure as a basis on which an entirely new rate should be arrived at, I think is misleading and will add either to the difficulties of the court, or will take away from the value of any figure they may subsequently fix.
The amendment, therefore, suggests that, in fixing the standard wages, the first consideration should be to have regard to the cost of maintaining in that area a normal family in a condition of working efficiency. That would, I take it, have regard to what has been laid down by the Minister himself when discussing the Children's Allowances Act—the size of the normal family in this country and relating the size of that family to a particular area and the housing conditions and cost of food and try to arrive at what would be an adequate figure to provide for the family normal conditions of life which would enable them to maintain themselves in average comfort and in a reasonable state of health and to rear and educate their children. There is, undoubtedly, a great deal involved which cannot be very well defined. It seems to me that, if we are to seek from the court a guide to the fixation of a standard rate and that rate is to have any value whatever in relation to the normal requirements of a working-class family, we should provide the court with some indication of the way in which our minds are running when we formulate this section.
I submit that to give to the court the cost-of-living index figure as a guide will not be helpful in this problem, though it may be, in ordinary negotiations taken as a guide in relation to existing rates of wages. Here we are asking for a new rate to be fixed. I suggest we would consider the fixation of that standard and therefore the guide which the court proposes to give to employers and workers should have relation to what in effect should be the basis of all wage rates, namely, maintenance of an average family in ordinary comfort and working efficiency, and the possibility of raising children and educating them. That would give the court a basis on which to carry out inquiries, and when it made a decision, it would be of greater value than a decision related merely to the formal index figure.
While the ideal sought to be achieved by this amendment will commend itself to all Deputies, I think every member of the House must be aware of the practical difficulties which will arise if it is implemented. This amendment suggests that the cost of maintaining a normal family in a condition of working efficiency should be taken into consideration. We have to remember that there is in existence legislation which fixes a minimum wage for agricultural workers. Is it proposed, by this amendment, to set up two bodies working together, and possibly not in agreement with each other, for the purpose of fixing minimum standards? If we accept this amendment, will it mean repealing the agricultural wages code completely, leaving to the labour court the function of fixing a minimum standard? If it is intended that this court will have the power to fix a minimum wage, it will require to be given additional power, because you cannot fix a wage higher than it is possible for an industry to pay. If an industry is in a condition of deep depression and you fix a wage which is higher than the industry can pay, it means that the industry must close down. Therefore, if we are to give this additional power to the labour court, we must also give it power to regulate the price of the produce of the labour; otherwise this amendment would be unworkable.
It is about time the House should face this problem. You cannot fix a minimum standard of wages for those engaged in agriculture unless you fix a minimum standard for prices. Over the past 20 years workers in agriculture, both labourers and farmers, have been working for wages which did not enable them to maintain a normal family in a condition of working efficiency. But they had to do it because prices were uneconomic.
This is a good amendment if it is carried right through and if provision is made in the Bill to secure that the prices of the products of this efficient labour shall be such as will enable this minimum wage to be paid.
This is a very unsatisfactory section and sub-section (2) is particularly unsatisfactory. Deputy Larkin rightly pointed out that a reference to the cost-of-living index number as a means of maintaining a standard is a very unreliable guide. The purpose of the cost-of-living index figure is to ascertain the cost of maintaining unaltered the 1914 standard—in our case, the 1922 standard adjusted to 1914 prices. Obviously, such an index figure presupposes the existence of some standard, any increase in the cost of maintaining which can be measured by reference to the index figure. But an index figure which merely measures the increased cost of maintaining that standard is not obviously a good yardstick to use for the purpose of creating a standard. It would be all right if you had already a standard and if the purpose was to ascertain in what way that standard was to be increased by reference to wages so as to maintain its previous level. That is difficulty No. 1.
Difficulty No. 2 seems to arise from compelling this court to have reference to the statutory minimum wage for the time being in force for the agricultural worker in that area. Phraseology like that seems to go down on the scales against the town worker. Nobody could agree that the wages paid to agricultural workers are decent wages. The miracle is how the agricultural workers manage to exist on the appallingly low rates of wages paid them to-day. I do not want to stir up any contention on this Bill, but Deputy Corry, who will not be accused of any want of love for the Government Party —at least in public—recently described the condition of agricultural workers. He said:—
"What is the use of giving them holidays? They would not have 5/- in their pockets, and the only place they could go on holidays is the county home."
He said further:—
"The poor devils have not a decent suit of clothes on their backs on Sundays."
That was Deputy Corry's portrayal of the economic condition of the agricultural worker. That is the poor fellow we are going to take as one of the yardsticks to be applied in the measurement of wages for town workers.
Nobody, unless he has a jungle philosophy, can justify the rates of wages paid to agricultural workers. They cannot be justified by reference to any ethical standard. They cannot be justified by reference to the cost of living. It is no wonder the position of the agricultural worker is worse than it ever was. You may give him 44/- a week, but you must remember £1 is worth only 10/- — if it is worth that. If you want to buy clothes, the evidence is that your £1 is scarcely worth 10/- from the point of view of pre-war value. It is most unfair to regard the conditions of agricultural workers as a yardstick to measure the rates for town workers. I never could understand why an agricultural worker, who is as skilled as any factory worker, is selected for the purpose of paying him a particularly low wage. Very few factory workers could do the comprehensive type of work an agricultural worker can do. Unfortunately, we have a rotten tradition for paying the agricultural worker a very low standard of wages. We ought to recognise that he is a skilled agricultural operative. His skill takes as long to acquire as it takes an industrial operative to acquire his skill.
Unfortunately, we have a warped sense of values with reference to the agricultural labourer. From the point of view of national economy he probably plays a bigger part than any other worker. He certainly did in the last six years and nobody can suggest that they were not the years in which to apply the most reliable of all tests, namely, whether the nation could survive without the agricultural worker.
The amendments will still leave the section in a bad way. I do not like the ring of the section. Perhaps the easiest way to meet the difficulty would be to give the court power to fix a standard rate which, in its opinion, should be paid to a male worker. Do not tie it down to adverting to certain things, but give it power to exercise its collective wisdom in fixing a rate. It may if it likes advert to these factors or any other factors, but it ought to have wider discretion than to be tied down to an examination of the cost-of-living index number, which is meaningless now, because you have a national figure and not a local figure. In fact, in a number of small towns there never was a local figure ascertained and it will require a special inquiry to ascertain what was the cost-of-living index figure. For instance, in regard to Naas or Newbridge, there was never a local index figure. At present there is a national figure and that national figure has existed for the last 26 years. It is apparently not contemplated to go back to local figures. For the phrase to have any meaning it would be necessary to have an examination of what the local index figure was, not what the national figure was. I suggest the Minister would get whatever valuable effect he is striving for by deleting sub-sections (2) and (4). Whatever value is in the section is thereby preserved and some of its most objectionable features would disappear by the deletion of these two sub-sections.
Perhaps it would be no harm if I indicated the origin of this section. In the operation of Emergency Powers (No. 260) Order, it seemed to me, and my impression was confirmed by many trade union officers, that the making of a standard rate Order prescribing a rate of wages for unskilled workers in small towns, even though that rate was not legally enforceable, had nevertheless the effect of securing that that rate was paid to unskilled workers in these towns. The employer was under no legal obligation to pay, but once the Order was published, he felt himself under a moral obligation to pay and in a large number of cases did, in fact, pay the standard rate. That experience of the operation of the Emergency Powers. Order seemed to me to indicate the desirability of having some similar process operate in future and I therefore framed this section to give the labour court power to say what was a reasonable rate of wages for an unskilled adult worker in a town without making that rate legally enforceable. By doing so not merely was it likely that employers in the area would feel under moral pressure to pay the rate fixed by the court but that rate could also be used as a yardstick in the determination of remuneration for other classes of workers, juvenile workers, female workers or workers doing work that required some element of skill.
If, however, the court is to be given power to determine a local standard rate in that manner, it is clear that some terms of reference must be given to it and I contemplated giving it the obligation of examining the conditions prevailing, the rates actually being paid in the area. I do not think it would be desirable to ask the court to undertake the inquiries that would be involved in the adoption of the amendment. I do not think the court could ascertain without a very detailed inquiry what the prices of commodities in a particular area are and what quantity of these commodities would be required by a normal family to maintain it in a state of working efficiency. I thought it was reasonable to ask the court to find out what rates are being paid to certain classes in the area, to agricultural workers in the vicinity of the town and to skilled workers in the locality and, having regard to these criteria, fix a rate that in their opinion would be reasonable for unskilled workers in the area. The rate fixed by it would not necessarily be the rate which the court would consider adequate to maintain a normal family in a state of working efficiency. They would not have to take into account the reasonableness of the agricultural rate or the skilled workers' rates. They would only have to take into account what these rates were and relate their proposed rate for unskilled work to the actual rates being paid to these other classes.
Whatever views may be held as to the adequacy of the present minimum agricultural rates, they do not really count as arguments against the section because, if circumstances should permit of a doubling, trebling or quadrupling of the present minimum rates, the section would still apply and the court would still have to have regard, if sub-section (2) remained unchanged, to the standard minimum rate for agricultural workers. The argument against the proposal in the Bill on the ground that the minimum agricultural rate is now too low presupposes that the minimum agricultural rate will always be too low. Without accepting the views expressed concerning the present rate, I would point out that we need not necessarily assume that conditions in agriculture will not permit of the payment of higher rates at some time and the circumstances will not necessarily mean that that agricultural rate would be regarded as a fair standard.
However, there is the section. It caused me more trouble that any other section in the Bill, in private discussions prior to its introduction, and it was quite obvious, when Deputy McGilligan got going here on the first day the Bill was introduced, that it was going to be the cause of possible misrepresentation in future as well. There was certainly no intention in framing the section to adopt a policy of relating all the wage rates to the agricultural rate and I came to the conclusion some time ago that perhaps the best course to adopt is to take the section out of the Bill altogether. I would do so with some reluctance. I think there is some advantage to be gained by unskilled workers in local towns by having this function given to the court, but rather than enact the section without giving the court some terms of reference, or take the risk that the retention of the section in the Bill would give cause for misunderstanding, or may lead to misrepresentation as to the purpose of the Bill as a whole, I would take the section out.
It is all right if sub-section (1) stands.
Can you really ask the court to fix a rate "in the blue"? Must not they have some terms of reference, or quite clearly they will make terms of reference for themselves? Any court sitting down to deal with this matter must have some standards by which to arrive at their conclusion, and it does not seem to me that it is possible to ask the court to do anything else except to have regard to the conditions prevailing in the towns, find out what skilled workers get, what unskilled workers get, find out what the general wage structure of the area is and fix a rate for unskilled adult workers, which will have a reasonable relation to the other rates. If it had not a reasonable relation to the other rates, then it would be completely inoperative. That section can only produce the results I have in mind if everybody regards the rate fixed by the court as a fair rate having regard to the conditions prevailing in the area.
The reference to the cost-of-living index number is not intended to provide for a "hay and fodder" rate, which I think is the phrase used professionally to describe sliding scale arrangements, but is intended to give the court the right to vary the rate that it may fix having regard to local conditions and if there are changes in general circumstances such as might be reflected in the cost-of-living index number. The cost-of-living index number may not be a reliable guide to the actual cost of living at any time, but alterations in the number are, I think, a fair enough guide as to changes in the cost of living from time to time. Certainly it is the only guide we have, and therefore it is appropriate enough to say to the court: "You can fix a standard rate for unskilled workers in local towns, and then, from time to time, if the cost-of-living index number changes, you can vary that rate", but primarily that rate, to be effective, must have regard not to the cost-of-living index number and not to such other considerations as I have mentioned but to the general level of conditions in the locality and to the willingness of everybody there to accept it as a practical and workable basis. Therefore, while I would not necessarily oppose the suggestion that the section might go through with sub-section (2) out altogether, we would only be deceiving ourselves if we thought that the court would proceed on any other basis except the basis I have indicated, namely, the actual conditions prevailing and, if that is so, there is no reason why we should not avoid misunderstanding by providing in the sub-section that the court, in fixing these standard rates, shall have regard to the rates being paid in the area at the time.
Picture for a moment what is likely to happen. The court may, on its own motion or on the application of an interested party, fix in respect of an area the wages to be paid to a male worker of the age of 21 years or upwards, so that if the court gets a motion in that respect, it can also accept a motion to proceed on a survey of what wage rates should be paid in a particular town to unskilled workers. One would imagine that a court consisting of three or five people would say: "Before we fix the rate for unskilled workers, let us get a picture of what the wage levels are at the moment, and let us look not merely at what the rates are in the town but at what they are in neighbouring comparable towns". That is not even suggested.
That is what is intended.
I am satisfied with the intention in the matter. The court, in the course of its survey to ascertain what reasonable rate should be fixed, will have regard to every consideration. It will know what the industries in the town are, and an industry can often fix a wage standard much more effectively than anything else in the town, because in a town in which there is good employment in the form of one or two main industries, that employment fixes a wage scale for that town more effectively than a court could fix it. The court will take cognisance of that fact when surveying the wage position and will probably also ascertain what the wage rates are in neighbouring towns.
If the Deputy is satisfied with that, that the court should have regard to the rates paid in the town or in neighbouring towns, I am satisfied. I can see this court exercising this function so long as it is confined to deciding a wage which has a reasonable relation to the prevailing wages in the area, but I can see it declining to exercise the function if it is asked to decide what is the wage which would keep a working family in reasonable efficiency, because that is bringing them into a very controversial field which they would normally be inclined to avoid entering. I know that, no matter what wage they may fix in that regard, there will always be some people prepared to contest its adequacy and others who will relate it to conditions in perhaps completely different areas.
Therefore, if this section is to be effective, we must confine the court not to questions of theory, or what might be regarded as questions of theory, namely, the diet which an unskilled worker would require, the varieties which should exist in that diet and the alterations which might be necessary in it from time to time, but to the ascertainable facts of the wages rates workers are getting, what other workers of different classes are getting in the locality and, if it is declared to be the standard rate, what rate will likely be accepted by employers and workers generally as reasonable in all the circumstances, because if it is not likely to be accepted by employers as reasonable, they will not pay it, and if it is not likely to be accepted by workers as reasonable, they will not be satisfied. It has to be a wage which, in the opinion of the court and having regard to the circumstances of the area, will be accepted as a reasonable rate and, therefore, become generally operative.
This is a new wage-fixing machinery for what is admitted to be a very deserving section in the matter of protection of the character suggested, and I suggest that, in fixing terms of reference, the Minister would be wise to allow a little more scope than he is allowing. He says that the court would not be rigidly tied down but would have regard to circumstances in the locality, but a very serious restriction is being placed on the court when the provision is confined to a male worker of 21 years or upwards. That seems to visualise merely a single person. Our amendments suggest that a man, whether he is 21, 22 or 23 years of age, in a rural area or a small town ought to have some prospect of getting married and rearing a family. As I read the terms of reference in the section they refer only to individuals and we know what happens in their case. They are employed at very low rates of wages at all types of work and are unable to get married. I do not think we should perpetuate that system. If this is to be new wage-fixing machinery, designed to work harmoniously as between employers and workers, the Minister would be setting a very good headline by enlarging its scope. There would be no difficulty in the court having regard to the cost-of-living figure and relating it to what the maintenance of a man, his wife and three children would demand. Deputy Cogan has spoken of the agricultural labourer, and I suggest that all the industries will have to be brought up to a standard which will enable them to pay a rate which will keep a family in decency and frugal comfort.
We are not now dealing with industrial rates, but with the rates of hotel yardmen and general workers around small towns.
The court will find no insuperable difficulty in making its inquiries around the locality and in ascertaining, having regard to the cost-of-living figure then prevailing, what would be necessary to maintain a family of three or four. That, I suggest, will be the basis on which they will operate rather than on the basis of perpetuating what we consider to be a grievance, an inequality. The amendment does not tie the court down, but it will enable them to have the proper outlook and will create no additional difficulty in the matter of making the necessary inquiries and coming to a decision as to what ought to be the minimum. Surely there is nobody in the House but will hope for the fixing of a standard rate which will enable Irish boys and girls to get married and to bring up their families in this country. Many of them at present are unable to get married because of the paucity of the wages paid, with the result that they are driven out of the country. There is a very important principle underlying this amendment, and, while it will not put any restrictions on the court, it will provide a foundation sufficiently broad to enable the court to do a good job of work.
The Deputy appreciates that this rate will not be legally enforceable at all. It will be operative only if generally accepted.
I am aware of that, but the moral effect will be just the same, if it is established, as the effect of the decision given throughout the country under Emergency Powers Orders.
I regard this section as one which might be made the most important in the whole Bill, because it is the first attempt so far in any legislation of this character at bringing about what might be generally regarded as a reasonable minimum wage. It is, unfortunately, circumscribed here by conditions which will nullify the effect of sub-section (1) and we are particularly anxious that sub-section (1) should stand because of its broad principle, provided we could get terms of reference on the lines of the amendment now before the House.
The Minister indicated that if there was controversy about this particular section he would prefer to drop it altogether, but the terms of reference suggested in the amendment might be suitable. Economists, who might be described as having a good social background, have always lamented the fact that we have not had a proper wage standard here. The whole approach, so far as wages are concerned, has been the value of a certain amount of work to the employer, without any regard whatever to the commitment of the individual who is selling his labour. A new effort is being made here. It is suggested that there is something more than the mere volume of labour sold, that there are the requirements and the necessities of the individual who is selling that labour. The acceptance of sub-section (1), with suitable terms of reference, would be a corollary. We believe that that particular section is peculiarly proper to a court of this description, and that it would not be impossible to round it off generally in this respect. If the court indicates that in a certain area, either in Ballydehob or Ballina, certain wages are not being paid, and that that carries this responsibility, that a man, if married, should get for his labour what would ensure the certainty of being able to bring up his family under decent conditions, it does not carry compulsion, but there is a tremendous moral value behind what it would do. I am particularly anxious to see that section stand.
The terms of reference must be such as will not involve the court in an inquiry outside its functions. I would dislike putting upon the court the obligation of expressing any opinion as to what would be regarded as the adequacy of any particular amount of money per week to provide a proper diet for a family of any particular size. The court will have the benefit of the dietetics survey which is being carried out by the Department of Local Government and other relevant information. In determining standards we should have regard to the fact of conditions in the locality. There should be something, not so much as a guide to the court, as for the purpose of protecting the court against the charge of having fixed a rate insufficient to provide for the dietetic needs of a family, and to keep the family in a condition of proper working efficiency, when the court is only trying to improve the actual conditions prevailing and to relate wages to those of other workers in the locality. I wonder if it would meet Deputies' point of view, if sub-section (2) were altered to read, "In fixing the standard wage for any area the court shall have regard to the prevailing level of wages". There should be an indication on the face of the Bill that the court is dealing solely with actual rates——
I think we can amend sub-section (4) as Deputy Norton proposes. I would not like to delete sub-section (4). Removing sub-section (4) would not make the rates enforceable. I think that should appear there, so that there will be no ambiguity. I will have an amendment for the Report Stage altering sub-section (2) as I propose, and altering sub-section (4) as the Deputy proposes.
Is sub-section (4) satisfactory as it now stands?
I think so. I have no objection to accepting it, but I will ask the Parliamentary draftsman to look at it.
Seeing that the Minister is inclined to refer this matter to the Parliamentary draftsman, I suggest that it is time the Government, in view of the high principles enshrined in the Constitution, would do something by way of giving a lead in regard to differentiation between a human being and an animal. It has been laid down by the Popes in the Encyclicals that the least any worker has the right to expect is a wage which will maintain him and his dependents in frugal comfort. The amendment falls far short of this. Why not give some lead to indicate to employers that they must differentiate between the human being and the animal? The animal will be fed in order that it can work. Efficiency is all right when talking about animals. But I think when drafting legislation we ought to live up to what we talk so much about when referring to human beings. I hope the Minister will indicate to the Parliamentary draftsman that we would like to have something in the Bill dealing with that question, so that the court would be free to develop a policy on the line of treating the worker as a human being.
Did the Minister consider the position of female workers?
I have been asked to do so, and I may produce an amendment to that effect. My idea is to confine this part to workers over 21 performing unskilled work, so that the wage fixed for such workers would constitute a yardstick by which the wages of other classes would be regulated. A case has been made to me that there is need to have determination by the court of rates for female workers, and, more particularly, juvenile workers in small towns. I want to look into it. My view is that it is wiser to fix one rate and to let the other rates be related to that rather than that the court should prepare a series of rates.
The rate for male workers would not be the same as female workers.
They are not enforceable.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 97:—
In sub-section (4), page 20, line 25, to delete the words "there shall not be any" and substitute therefor the words "nothing in this section shall be construed as imposing an".
Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That Section 56, as amended, stand part of the Bill."
The section proposes that the court may fix the wage that should be paid weekly to a male worker from the age of 21 years or upwards. I do not like the phrase: "21 years or upwards".
It is intended to be the wage of an adult worker.
I wish the Minister would delete "21 years or upwards" and insert "any adult worker". In a hotel yard there might be two people doing the same work, one 20 and the other 30 years of age. I take it in that case the wages will be fixed in relation to the work rather than the age. What I am afraid of is that a court composed of men of 60 years of age, for instance, will inevitably get the impression that they are only fixing wages for youths of 21 years of age. If this section were phrased in such a way as to fix rates of wages for people under 80 years of age I would prefer that approach rather than to stipulate "21 or upwards" because that lays emphasis on the 21 and the impression is given that rates of wages are being fixed for youths, without any cognisance of the possibility that some of those may be married men with four, five or six children dependent upon them. I think it should be amended to say rates of wages for an "adult" worker.
When I was drafting the section I actually put in adult worker myself, but legal opinion evidently decided that it should be in the other form.
In the long run the question will be decided on the job the particular individual is doing. I think the emphasis ought not to be put on the 21 years of age.
I shall have that examined.
On the section, I would like to say that, first of all, I agree with the Minister about the moral force of a standard rate in areas. Even where it is not obligatory, it has an effect quite outside the possibly narrow circle within which it is applied. I think the Minister very aptly used the expression "yardstick"; and until rates of wages are made more uniform that will serve a very useful purpose. I would like to call the Minister's attention to line 16 where he puts in "unskilled work for 48 hours in a week". Deputy Norton has called attention to the expression "21 years of age or upwards" and he wants the word "adult" to be put in there instead. I would like to see that "48 hours in a week" taken out and the words "normal week", or something like that, substituted because where it is 48 hours a precise amount of work is specified and anything over or under that would be looked upon as a plus or minus. I would suggest to the Minister that the easiest way would be, when fixing the standard, to say for so many hours. I think that would improve this section.
The next matter to which I wish to call attention—it is only a minor one —is that this seems to me to be somewhat out of place here and that it should have come much earlier. Of course, that is only a matter of opinion, but I rather think myself that it should be as far back as Section 33.
One point occurs to me in relation to the action of the board in proposing to fix a standard rate in an area. It may do so on the application of an interested party, or it may do so of its own volition; but there is no provision in this section whereby anybody will know of the board's intention to do this, and nobody will be given an opportunity of tendering to the board any evidence in respect of the fixation of a standard wage where the board moves of its own motion because it is not obliged to intimate to anybody its intention so to fix a wage. I think some provision should be made by which, if the board decides that it will examine the question of fixing a standard wage, it should be compelled to notify that fact to somebody.
I think that is fair. I imagine the board would do that. They are not prevented from doing it. I think, however, it is desirable that there should be some statutory obligation.
It would be very undesirable to have the board fix a wage for a certain town and to have that town waking up one morning knowing nothing of the board's intention.
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 57 to 63, inclusive, put and agreed to.
I move amendment No. 98:—
Before Section 64 but in Part V of the Bill to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) The tribunal established under Section 9 of the Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Act, 1942, shall be deemed to be a Joint Industrial Council for the purposes of this Act.
(2) Nothing in the Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Act, 1942, shall operate to prevent the setting up of a similar tribunal for the purpose of determining for the purposes of this Act, the relations between the board and (a) the salaried employees of the board entitled to superannuation and (b) the casual manual employees of the board.
Under Section 9 of the Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Act, 1942, there is power for the establishment of a tribunal, one member of which shall be nominated by the board of the Electricity Supply Board and another member by the manual workers, and the chairman either on the agreed nomination of the two ordinary nominees or, in default, by agreement with the Minister. That tribunal has to deal with all matters of disputes arising between the manual employees and the board. I would suggest that, in view of the provision in Part V of this Bill for a joint industrial council, that tribunal established under that Act should be regarded for that purpose as a joint industrial council in order that the casual manual employees, or the other employees, who are entitled to superannuation would be regarded as employees entitled to consideration under this Bill. I would suggest that the Minister should accept that amendment. The Minister has a later amendment himself, but I do not think it meets the same point.
My amendment meets the point in sub-section (1) of Deputy Mulcahy's amendment in full. It puts the tribunal established under the Electricity Supply Board Act, 1942, in precisely the same position as a joint industrial council. I am not quite clear as to what Deputy Mulcahy intends by sub-section (2). If he intends that the court established under this Bill can intervene in disputes between the board and those of its staff who do not come under the tribunal set up under the 1942 Act, that is covered. If it is intended to provide that the Electricity Supply Board Act, 1942, will be amended so as to establish a second tribunal for workers, other than manual workers, then it would hardly be in order here. An amendment would have to be made to the Act itself. I am not quite clear as to what is meant. It may be that he doubts whether this court can intervene in disputes affecting employees of the Electricity Supply Board who do not come under the tribunal set up by the Act of 1942. If that is the position, then I can remove his doubts because such disputes are not outside the scope of this Bill and this court can intervene. In so far as the court itself is concerned, my amendment, No. 102, is intended to do exactly what is contemplated by sub-section (1) of this.
The intention of the amendment, I think, is to cover the salaried employees of the board and the casual manual employees.
But was it intended to bring the salaried employees under this Bill? If so, they are already under it. There is nothing in the Bill which prevents the court intervening in a dispute as regards salaried staff. I am taking out the manual employees for whom this tribunal was set up under the Act of 1942. We are putting the tribunal in the position of a joint industrial council so that a dispute would have to be referred to this court by the tribunal as it would by a joint industrial council.
Having been referred, this court can deal with it.
This court can deal with it.
Under Section 4 they are included.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 99:—
To delete sub-section (1) and substitute the following sub-section:—
(1) Subject to the provisions of this section, where a trade dispute exists or is apprehended, the court may, and shall at the request of a person concerned therein, investigate the dispute.
This amendment was suggested during the course of the Second Reading debate. It was argued then that it was undesirable that the court could intervene in a dispute only at the request of a person concerned in the dispute and that there might be circumstances under which neither of the parties concerned in the dispute would, in fact, take the initiative to have such a dispute referred to the court.
The effect of the amendment is to enable the court to intervene in the dispute on its own initiative. This amendment might be regarded as linked up with that in the name of Deputies Norton and Larkin to delete sub-section (5). The original scheme of the Bill was that the court was obliged to intervene in a dispute if any party concerned requested the court to intervene. It could not refuse to intervene in a dispute at the request of a party, except in the circumstances contemplated in sub-section (5), namely, if the parties concerned refused to make some temporary arrangement which would avoid a stoppage of work until the court had expressed its opinion.
I am aware that the provisions of sub-section (5) have created some suspicion that the court will act upon the principle of no negotiations until work is resumed. That certainly was not intended. It was intended to give the court power to ask or even to require, as a condition of its intervention, the parties to restore the status quo until they had reported on it. If, however, there is suspicion as to the effect of sub-section (5) and a desire to delete it, I would be agreeable to its deletion. That agreement to its deletion is influenced by the fact that we are now proposing to amend sub-section (1) to give the court power to intervene in a dispute on its own initiative and, presumably, not to intervene if it thinks its intervention might not do any good.
It must do it, if requested. There is another question there. It says, "at the request of a person concerned in the dispute."
That phrase has been queried, and I think I will amend it on Report to include only a person or persons having a substantial interest in a dispute. In other words, if there is a dispute involving a large number of workers, one individual worker could not on his own initiative secure the intervention of the court if the others did not want it. I think we will have to have some provision by which the court can exercise a discretion on the status of the person asking for its intervention.
What type of person has the Minister in mind? Has he to find a person who is a party to a dispute, or a person who is adversely affected by the fact that there is a dispute?
I do not want to rule out the possibility of a person adversely affected.
Take the case of a strike in a butcher's shop in town. I am dealing in that shop, and I cannot get my meat there, and it is not convenient for me to get my meat elsewhere. I am adversely affected by reason of the fact that there is a strike in progress, and I am seriously inconvenienced. Have I a right, as a person affected by the strike, to intervene?
I think "a person concerned in a strike" is better than "a person affected by a strike." There is to be a provision that will give the court the right to use its discretion, to have regard to the degree of concern which the applicant may have in the dispute. That amendment may be produced on Report.
The court will be entitled under the amendment to use their discretion whether they are or are not approached. That wipes out a good deal of the objection which there might otherwise be to it. Whether they are or not approached, either by a person or a substantial number of people, they are all the time in a position to exercise their own discretion as to whether they should or should not intervene?
That is to be made clear. I do not think it is clear at the moment.
At the same time, that safeguard is there.
Will the Minister accept the amendment to delete sub-section (5)?
With considerable reluctance. I think there is a lot to be said for the sub-section, but, in view of the objection to it, I am prepared to delete it.
I would suggest to the Minister to consider the question of compulsory reference to the court of an impending dispute, while placing no obligation on either the workers or the employers. Much stress has been laid during the debate on the effect, particularly on the trade unions, of an unofficial strike. I think it is desirable, in the event of a dispute arising, that before strike action takes place, the matter should be compulsorily referred to the court, putting no obligation on either of the parties to the dispute, and no obligation on the court to make any order in the matter. That might have the effect of preventing a strike and, possibly, reaching an agreement before the strike takes place.
The Deputy will note the provisions of Section 68 which I intended to relate to the unofficial strike.
That is when work is actually stopped.
My suggestion is that there should be compulsory reference, not compulsory arbitration.
We are, of course, by this amendment giving the court power to intervene in a dispute on its own initiative where it thinks that, by doing so, it can prevent a dispute.
Even before the strike takes place?
Does not the Minister think it desirable before an unofficial strike takes place that there should be an obligation ——
You do not know that it is an unofficial strike until it has taken place.
There should be an obligation on the workers, possibly with some penalty, in the event of failing to comply.
An unofficial strike occurs before anybody knows about it.
What Deputy Cosgrave speaks of is carried out in practice so far as official disputes are concerned. The Department is notified, but we cannot notify them until it takes place.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 100:—
To delete sub-section (2).
Amendments Nos. 100, 103 and 104 have really all the same idea. I do not know why the court should be tied up as to the terms on which they could look into a trade dispute. If they have any common sense, they will not intervene unless they can be helpful. There is often a certain amount of difficulty in the case of a dispute, especially a protracted one, as to the question on whose authority a meeting has been called. I think it would be better if the Minister wiped out sub-sections (2), (3) and (4). I would also suggest to him that he should amend sub-section (5) to meet the difficulty of the Labour Party. I certainly would not suggest that the court should refuse to have anything to do with a dispute if it is an unofficial one. It certainly should not be outside their competence to consider what recommendation they ought to make. I suggest that this whole section ought to be redrafted and the court left as free as possible to intervene, no matter who asks them, and impose whatever terms or conditions they like, which, in their judgment, will be in the best interests of everybody concerned.
That may be a good Bill, but it is not this Bill. The whole scheme of this Bill is to put the emphasis on negotiation and conciliation in the first instance, not to bring the court into an industrial dispute until efforts to avoid it or settle it by the ordinary methods of negotation and conciliation have been tried and failed. Therefore, we provide in this section that, if there is a joint industrial council registered—and it cannot be registered unless the rules of the council provide that any dispute arising will be referred to the council and settled by the council—and if the officials of a trade union show that they have an agreement with the employers which provides for some other method of negotiating and settling disputes, or if there is a registered agreement which contains a procedure for negotiating the settlement of disputes, this court cannot intervene under this part of the Bill. These sub-sections tend to provide that where there is established a recognised and working system of avoiding or settling disputes, it should be allowed to continue, and the court should not intervene unless its services are really necessary. They would not be necessary in the case contemplated in sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) until the alternative machinery already existing, or which may come into existence, has been tried and failed.
While Deputy Dockrell may have departed somewhat from the machinery envisaged in the Bill, there is something in what he says, and there should be some consideration given to these three sub-sections, not because they interfere with the purpose of this section, but because they fail to take account of certain things. Take sub-section (2). The court does not interfere if there is a joint industrial council composed of an equal number of representatives. Suppose we have a deadlock. We make no provision in that connection. One of the parties must initiate the movement. I am merely pressing this matter to indicate some of the difficulties which will flow from the section. Sub-section (3) says that the court shall not investigate a trade dispute in which a trade union is concerned if there is an agreement providing for another method of determining the dispute. There is no indication there of what may happen if that particular method has been tried and has failed. The sub-section says that if there is an agreement the court is precluded from intervening. Similarly, in regard to sub-section (4), the court shall not investigate a trade dispute between persons to whom a registered agreement applies except at the request of any party to the agreement. All that has to be brought into conformity with the amended sub-section (1).
In so far as the main purpose of the Bill is to provide machinery in order to avoid or to settle disputes, I suggest that any hitches that might give rise to difficulty should be ironed out where they are noticed while the Bill is going through the House. It is conceivable that, although you have a joint industrial council, there might be a deadlock on the question of whether the court should be invited to intervene. Again, the court might find difficulty in interpreting sub-section (3) in relation to whether a method of determining the dispute existed under an agreement. We could also envisage the position that a dispute may be developing. There is machinery to deal with that dispute under an agreement, but for certain reasons the operational machinery is delayed, both parties being reluctant to give effect to it. The court would be precluded from intervening although the parties to the agreement would be doing nothing to prevent or settle a dispute.
It might meet the point if we put in a section saying that in the cases contemplated in sub-sections (2), (3) and (4) one of the parties would invoke the intervention of the court if it could show that the alternative means contemplated had been used, or that an attempt had been made to get it used, without success.
Possibly a better way would be to make it possible for the court to inquire whether these alternative means had been utilised, how far they had proceeded in utilising the machinery, and what are the possibilities of the machinery being successful. While they might not intervene in the dispute, they could initiate some other alternative.
There is the possibility that while this machinery is available, it may not be working. If there is a breakdown in negotiations and a dispute arises, will you not give the court power to intervene?
Would the Deputy not agree that the intervention of the court should be requested by one of the parties concerned rather than that the court should of its own initiative start inquiring into the working of an agreement which may not be a registered agreement at all?
Deputy Larkin wants to give the court power to inquire why the existing machinery will not work.
I am thinking of an agreement between a union and employers who will not have anything to do with the court. Moving along the lines the Deputy suggests would seem to involve giving the court power to intervene, even though the parties do not want to have anything to do with the court.
Take an agreement that is not registered. Under the amendment the court will have to inquire whether there is such an agreement. Having found that there is such an agreement, the court should not be prohibited from making further inquiries to find whether the machinery has been applied and is working. If that is not the case, the court could say: "We are available if you want to use our services." At present they are precluded so long as the agreement exists.
Whether it works or not—I see your point and I will consider it.
In sub-section (4) it is stated that the court shall not investigate a dispute between persons to whom an agreement applies except at the request of any party to the agreement. That phrase is hardly necessary.
The phrasing of the sub-section will have to be considered in the light of the change made in sub-section (1)
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 101:—
In sub-section (2), line 33, to delete the words "within the meaning of Part V of this Act."
That is a drafting change in consequence of an earlier amendment.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 102:—
Before sub-section (3) to insert a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) The court shall not investigate a dispute to which Section 11 of the Electricity Supply Board (Superannuation) Act, 1942 (No. 17 of 1942), applies, except at the request of the tribunal established under Section 9 of that Act.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 103 and 104 not moved.
I move amendment No. 105:—
To delete sub-section (5).
Amendment agreed to.
Section 64, as amended, agreed to.
On behalf of Deputies Davin and Keyes I move amendment No. 106:—
Before sub-section (2), in page 22, to insert the following new sub-section:—
"(2) A recommendation under this section shall be made as soon as practicable but in any event within fourteen days after the date on which the investigation of a trade dispute has commenced."
The only point in this amendment is the question of the fixation of the time limit. I think it is necessary.
Yes, but it is dangerous also. I agree fully if the Deputy's point is that the court should give expeditious decisions. That is completely in conformity with my idea. But there may be a particularly involved type of dispute, involving a considerable amount of examination by the court, and if you put in a time limit, what happens if the court in fact overruns the time limit? That is the difficulty I see all the time of having a statutory time limit. After 14 days, if the court, with the best will in the world, is unable to get the data that it requires in order to give a fair decision, what follows? Can it give any decision at all or must it start the whole process of examination and inquiry all over again?
The amendment was intended to prevent anything in the nature of an indefinite period.
I agree with that, but it seems to me that the device of putting in a statutory time limit is too cumbersome in this case. I do not know of any other way of meeting it but I think the practical consideration that will operate is that the court will be availed of in these disputes if it gives expeditious decisions and will not be availed of if it does not.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 65 stand part of the Bill."
In line 11 there is the phrase "in such manner". Would the Minister think of substituting "by such means"?
It is something more than the means by which the thing is communicated.
I am satisfied if the Minister looks into it.
What I mean to imply is that the court may consider in a particular dispute that the need for publication is satisfied by communicating its award to the parties alone whereas in other cases it may consider that the circumstances require publication, say, in the newspapers, so that the public would be informed. It is not really a question of letting the court decide whether it will publish it by means of advertisements in the newspapers, announcements on the radio, or letters to the parties, but that it shall have discretion as to the manner of publication, whether newspaper publicity is necessary at all or whether mere publication to the parties alone will suffice.
Question agreed to.
Sections 66 and 67 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 107:—
In sub-section (1), line 31, to delete the words "is promoting or assisting the dispute" and substitute therefore the words "originally promoted or assisted the dispute."
It is apparent that it would be quite impossible to prove that the action was a continuing one. I think it is sufficient to show that the party originally promoted or assisted the dispute. That is the object of the amendment.
I do not see any objection to the amendment. I do not know what the Labour Deputies would consider. I think there is something to be said for it. This is the section which deals with unofficial strikes. There may be some objection in theory to giving the court power of intervention in relation to unofficial strikes but it seems to me we must have some means of dealing with them and that there is something in Deputy Dockrell's contention that an unofficial strike is a strike which a trade union did not originally promote or assist rather than one which no trade union is promoting or assisting at a particular time, because there are, as the House is aware, possibilities that the circumstances may change in relation to a strike during the course of the strike. If the court is to have the power of intervention under this section in relation to a strike which began as an unofficial strike, it would be sufficient, and that I think is what Deputy Dockrell is aiming at.
What is the explanation of putting in the words "if satisfied that no trade union of workers is promoting or assisting the dispute"?
This section merely deals with unofficial strikes. That is what it is intended to deal with— strikes which have not been started or assisted by a trade union of workers— and it gives the court power to come in and make what is in effect a binding award to settle that strike—an award which is binding upon the workers and employer for a period of six months, the difficulty, being, of course, that the strike being unofficial there is nobody that you can negotiate with or make a bargain with unless the trade union comes in to support the strike or to represent the workers involved in it.
Is the Minister accepting the amendment?
Why do you say that the section is dealing with unofficial strikes?
That is the definition of the unofficial strike, as I understand it.
It is the queerest one I ever heard.
I also said on Second Reading that it would cover strikes of unorganised workers but in their case the problem is precisely the same, namely, the difficulty of getting somebody who would be representative and who could commit the others to the acceptance or rejection of a proposal for the settlement of a dispute.
At the present time, the way the section reads, I take it that a body of workers who are unorganised, may go on strike, and the section operates?
A body of workers may go on strike who are organised and the union may or may not come into the dispute at a later date. If the union comes in, then the earlier sections operate?
But take it that the union does not come in, then the people are in the same position as the unorganised workers. The amendment is that if the court is satisfied that any trade union originally promoted or assisted the dispute, the court could come in.
A strike may start as an unofficial strike and become an official strike while it is on. Is not that so?
Yes. Under Deputy Dockrell's amendment the court could still intervene and apply this whole section.
Yes. That is why I thought that the Deputy might have some objection to it. The problem I see for the court is that it may start the process of intervention and then find it is stopped because some union has decided to make the strike an official strike. It is probably better to leave it as it is and probably safer from the labour point of view.
Because I should imagine the trade union representatives would regard that as the safer device.
I would like to get that clarified a bit further. I am not at all satisfied. If a strike takes place that is started as an unofficial strike, we take it that it started against the wishes of the executive authority of the union.
Or without their knowledge.
Or without consultation with them.
That in itself is a breach of the rules of the union. I think union executives ought not to be encouraged to come in and make legal strikes which are not legal or which are not authorised.
That might be quite legitimate. Deputies will often mention cases where the workers go on strike in circumstances which are not justified, where they should have gone to the executive with their complaint but, having gone on strike, the employer says, "Because this strike has taken place, I am now going to alter the agreement or regard the agreement as ended," in which case the union will say, "Even though we do not approve of the action of the workers in going on strike in the first instance, we now must make it an official strike so that we can participate in the negotiation of a new agreement."
There is not only that point to be considered; there is also the point that, while there is general condemnation of unofficial strikes, we do not want to make the condemnation too wide. There can be, and there are, cases where, no matter how expeditiously or efficiently the machinery of trade unions may operate, a situation can develop in a particular employment in which strike action would be taken by the workers and not only will the union stand over it but every reasonable-minded man and woman will stand over it. We should not pre-judge these cases, and that is what this amendment will do, in effect.
The ordinary procedure in the trade union movement—Deputy Morrissey is as well acquainted with it as I am— is that if a body of workers do move out, without the knowledge or instructions of the executive committee, the committee examines the merits of the case, and, on occasion, may decide that, for certain reasons, they are justified in stepping in. On the other hand, they may decide to keep aloof from the whole thing and will possibly be brought in only on the suggestion that somebody is required to assist in the negotiations and to get the dispute adjusted. They, because of their contacts and their machinery, are helpful in that respect, but it should not be taken that, while there is this general condemnation of unofficial strikes, there cannot be occasions when workers will be driven to take immediate action, whether they like it or not. The trade union movement has to take cognisance of that fact and to allow for it.
In the ordinary course of industrial relations between employers and workers, these cases are exceptional and rare, but I do not think there is any reason why this amendment should be pressed upon us because the Bill, as drafted, is quite sufficient to meet the case. If we are to have machinery to adjust labour disputes, on one side of which there are to be representatives of the trade unions, individually or collectively, we must take it for granted that they have sufficient commonsense and understanding to have regard to their responsibility, not only to their members but to the community, and not to take it for granted that every unofficial strike will be made official by the intervention of the union.
We should not say that, regardless of the conditions under which workers work, once they have gone out unofficially, all advice and all representative power, so far as union machinery is concerned, shall be denied them and they shall be completely subject to what is, in effect, a penal section merely because they have taken unofficial action, because very often the onus for the unofficial action rests not on the workers but on some foreman, ganger or manager who is completely removed from the scene of the conflict. Yet the workers who have had to have recourse to this objectionable action, very likely without prior notification or without any attempt to adjust the dispute, are to come immediately under the operation of the section, although the union itself, having investigated the whole matter, felt it was a case which should be considered by means of the ordinary machinery of negotiation and possibly under some of the earlier sections. I suggest that we leave it stand, because it is quite adequate as it is.
I fully appreciate that Deputy Norton, Deputy Larkin or any other responsible trade union leader is more against unofficial strikes than anybody else because they get more trouble and worry from them than anybody else, but I think it is true to say that unofficial strikes generally take place in essential services, and while we are doing our best here to protect the interests of both workers and employers, there is the interest of the community to be protected. I want to put this to Deputy Larkin, that there is such a thing as an unofficial strike starting against the express wishes of the union and a weak executive being coerced afterwards into making it official. The Deputy knows that that has happened, and, so far as I am concerned, I want to see taken whatever measures can be taken to put an end to unofficial strikes, which not only bring tribulation to those involved in them, but very often are the cause of great sacrifices having to be made by the ordinary community who have no voice whatever in the matter. It will not be contested that, generally speaking, lightning or unofficial strikes take place in essential services upon which the community are absolutely and completely dependent and in respect of which the community are completely helpless. We know that the community for the greater part are made up of other workers, and I do not think that acceptance of this amendment will cause any hardship or injustice.
It could involve a departure from the very principle on which the Bill is founded. It is that a trade union cannot be coerced by any of the provisions of the Bill, unless it has voluntarily accepted the position that it is subject to the coercive clauses in it. Any trade union of workers which comes under the Bill comes under it voluntarily, knowing its obligations. If we accept the amendment, conceivably a situation could arise in which a trade union, against its will, would be subject to coercive direction by the court under the circumstances mentioned here, namely, of a strike which began as an unofficial strike but which was subsequently made official. That is one of the things which the Bill set out to avoid doing. We built it entirely on the basis that nobody is subject to any of its provisions, unless he voluntarily agrees to submit himself to it, and we depart from that principle if we adopt the amendment.
There is more than that in it. Certain unofficial strikes which were subsequently made official were made official because of the weakness of the leaders of the particular union.
Nevertheless, that does not alter the force of my argument.
There are more than two parties to this machinery. There are more than two interests concerned in this matter, and I do not believe that any trade union, which genuinely wishes to take advantage of this machinery, will refrain from doing so merely from the point of view put forward by the Minister. I think this amendment will probably be more valuable to some of the trade unions than the Bill as it stands. It will probably strengthen their hands. In any case so far as I am concerned, the sooner we get machinery which will put an end to unofficial and lightning strikes, the better. The community deserves some protection as well as other people.
I have a good deal of sympathy with Deputy Morrissey's stand in the matter of the unofficial strike. As I said yesterday, the trade unions and trade unionists have to recognise that their whole reputation for responsibility is bound up with the avoidance of sporadic and indisciplined action, and to recognise that, in these matters, the interests of the movement demand that there should be some kind of authorised control of unions, and that control ought not to be exercised except in the regularised way provided for by the rules of a union.
I think, however, that Deputy Morrissey in supporting Deputy Dockrell's amendment is weighting the scales against the union. You may have a situation in which a union learns this evening that yesterday morning its members in Donegal went on strike without any authority from the executive. The union probably did not approve of the arrangement at all, but the conditions may have been such that the union members there were almost goaded into going on strike—perhaps, as Deputy Larkin has said, by the truculent attitude of a foreman or ganger, or by what they regarded as some particularly mean approach to a problem.
From the point of view of the rules of the union, that would be an unofficial strike, but suppose that, on hearing of it, the union sends a representative down to investigate matters on the spot and he comes back and says: "It is true that these people went on strike without authority, but it is also true that they had no alternative, unless they were prepared to put up with what I regard as very inhuman and unreasonable treatment. Here are the facts of the case. In my view this strike is one which would be approved of if they proceeded to have it called in a regularised way." If Deputy Dockrell's amendment is carried it means that the court could intervene in that case because the union did not originally promote the strike. In a case of that kind the court would be entitled to ignore the fact that in view of the full circumstances it was one on which a strike would be normally covered. I do not think it is the intention of Deputy Morrissey to prevent a union regularising a strike when it learns the facts. If Deputy Dockrell's amendment is accepted it means that a strike, once having been declared unofficial, could never be regularised, no matter how much justification there would be for doing so. I think the Bill is preferable to the amendment and, on closer examination, Deputy Morrissey will probably see that he is tilting the scales somewhat unwittingly on one side.
It is a question whether there is or is not discipline. You may have a type of case of which I can give personal experience, where something happens and, exasperated by a ganger or an overseer, men pitch discretion to the winds and declare a strike. Where are you going to close the door? Take the present position of trade unions. Supposing that to-morrow 500 or 1,000 workers in Dublin, belonging to a certain union, go on strike unofficially, and that a threat is put up to the executive of the union that if they do not recognise it as an official strike they are going to march into another union. That might be a reason why the strike would be treated in a certain way. The Minister seems to be satisfied that the interests of the community would be better safeguarded by the other procedure.
That is the whole procedure of the Bill.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 68 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 108:—
In paragraph (a), line 4, to delete the words "one year" and substitute the words "six months."
It has been suggested that the period should be reduced to six months. This brings in the question of the next two amendments. That device was adopted to deal with unofficial strikes. The court may resort, if it thinks it wise, to the making of an order prescribing the wages and conditions which the employer of the workers concerned may maintain, and he may maintain no other conditions either better or worse. That device is intended to end the types of unorganised or unofficial strike where there is no body with whom there can be an agreement negotiated, or it can accept or reject any particular terms on behalf of other workers. The device is intended to secure a period—it need only be a comparatively short period—of peace in the occupation pending the re-establishment of trade union control over the workers, and some other development which may lead to a more orderly approach to the position. The amendments seek to provide that the conditions will be minimum conditions. It ignores that particular aspect of this proposal, just as Deputy Dockrell's amendment withdraws the protection of the Trade Disputes Act.
This device of having an award which is binding on the employer is an alternative to the same device that Deputy Dockrell suggests. It would be defeated if the other amendment were accepted. I do not think that would be regarded as a practical method of dealing with an unofficial strike or with unorganised workers: It is intended to apply only in circumstances where the court cannot get a settlement by any other means, because of the state of disorganisation among the workers concerned, and enables it to ensure that certain prescribed conditions will for a period—it need only be a short time—prevail until the difficulty is resolved. It was suggested that one year was too long and that six months would be the best period.
I might point out that an agreement is practically always for a year.
This is not an agreement. It is a decision of the court binding on the parties.
Conditions imposed by the court.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 109 not moved.
Amendment No. 110 not moved.
Section 69, as amended, agreed to.
Section 70 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 111:—
In sub-section (1), page 23, line 37, to delete the word "order" and substitute the word "regulation".
Amendment agreed to
I move amendment No. 112:—
In sub-section (2), line 40, to delete the words "trade unions of employers" and substitute the words "organisations representative of employers".
This is a drafting amendment. As there might not be trade unions of employers, "organisations representative of employers" is safer.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 71, as amended, agreed to.
I move amendment No. 113:—
In sub-section (1), line 48, to delete the word "the".
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 114:—
In sub-section (1), to insert after the word "applies", in line 49, the words "or an employer or trade union of employers of such workers".
I am against this. It is a complete reversal of the principle on which this part of the Bill was built up. The intention is to give the worker and only the worker that right. If he records it he pins himself for the time being not to take strike action for a higher rate, but if he thinks a higher rate justified he can apply to the court. Quite clearly, if you give the employer the right to record a standard rate order you are thereby giving the employer power to prevent the worker adopting the alternative of leaving himself free, which it is intended to do.
On that question, I cannot see any reason why there should not be equality as between the employees and employers in matters of this kind. Is it not possible that a union might make demands upon individual employers and might completely ignore any organisation which employers would have, and the employer would then have no redress? At the present time a demand is being made on the farmers in Counties Dublin, Kildare and Meath for an increased wage and a threat is being held out that there will be a complete stoppage of work on the 1st of August if those demands are not met. Although the farmers have an organisation, their organisation is not being recognised by the workers.
I think the Deputy is talking about some other amendment. The question raised here is not recognition of employers' organisations; it is the recording of standard rate orders by employers, as well as workers, during the transition period.
How long will this transition period last?
When will the Act come into force?
The Act will come into force in respect of the other provisions on an appointed day, which I hope will be in September. But this part of the Bill is intended to provide abnormal measures which will operate for a year—that is, the year of transition from emergency to normal economy. The device adopted here is intended to give trade unions an opportunity of securing stability of wages, and in an orderly manner of getting increases during that period rather than run the risk of innumerable trade disputes which might be difficult of solution. If we were to adopt Deputy Dockrell's amendment and give this right to the employers, then we would be departing completely from what is contemplated here; because by recording the order, without the agreement of the trade union or without consulting the workers concerned, an employer could tie up the union to that particular rate and compel them to adopt this particular machinery, even though they did not want to do so. Certainly that is not what is intended by the section. This transition year will undoubtedly give more power to the workers than to the employers, but it is deliberately designed in that way to facilitate the process of transition and to have a period during which longterm agreements can be negotiated and registered, without the risk of interruptions through strikes, while such negotiations are proceeding.
Has the Minister taken into account the taking of some action to avoid the possibility of a dispute occurring until the court has given a decision?
That comes under the provisions of Part VI of the Bill which gives the court power to intervene in any type of dispute that may be brought to its notice, and this Part need not necessarily relate to disputes at all. In fact, if the procedure contemplated here is followed there can be no strike until the court has functioned.
We shall have no court until September.
Until then will the Minister take some steps to control the position?
That is already done under an Emergency Powers Order. Of course, they could not register under that because they have not got a standard rate order.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 115:—
Before sub-section (2), in page 23, to insert the following new sub-section:—
(2) Before recording under this section a wages (standard rate) order and a bonus order, the following provisions shall have effect—
(a) the court shall cause information relating to the application for such recording to be given to every organisation of employers and organisation of workers which, in its opinion, is likely to be concerned in the application;
(b) the court shall publish in at least two newspapers a notice giving particulars of the application and of the nature of the orders to which it has reference.
(3) If within 14 days after the publication of the notice mentioned in the next preceding sub-section, objection is made to the court to the recording of the orders aforesaid, the court shall consider the objection and if it is of opinion that the objection is not frivolous it shall cause an inquiry into the application to be held as soon as may be.
(4) Having considered the report of the inquiry mentioned in the next preceding sub-section, the court shall, at its discretion, record the wages (standard rate) order and bonus order, the subject matter of the inquiry or refuse to record such orders.
Section 72, as it stands, is rather undefined and it was felt there should at least be provision in respect of notification to other organisations and so far as publication in newspapers might be concerned. We are immediately concerned with the question of the effect the amendment might have—that is, if sub-section (3) of it were put into operation and the orders might be recorded within 14 days. That might be met if the recording took place in the ordinary courts where the courts could deal with any objections that might arise as a result of the publication. We felt that provision for notification to interested parties should be made. There is no such provision here except in the sub-section of the amendment.
We had to make the procedure for recording the standard rate order as simple as possible because there are something like 2,000 of them and it would not be possible to have an inquiry by the court in relation to each one of them. Therefore, we provided that the workers concerned could record by the simple process of posting a copy of the order by registered post. It is then recorded. To meet the point which, I think, the Deputy has in mind I introduced amendment No. 130, which is designed to enable anybody to claim that the recording of an order was done on the initiative of somebody who was not really representative of the workers concerned, and the court can then annul the recording if it is satisfied such is the case. I thought that was the point the Deputy had in mind and I think that is the best way to meet it, without setting up an elaborate machinery which would, in fact, clog the work of the court at the very outset.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 116:—
In sub-section (2), line 54, to delete the word "three" and substitute the word "four."
It was suggested that the time should be extended. I did not want to have a long period because that would defeat the whole purpose of the section, but I was agreeable to extend the period from three to four months. I think that is adequate to enable every body of workers to become informed of the provisions of the section and to consider whether they want to operate it or not.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 117 not moved.
Section 72, as amended, put and agreed to.
I move amendment No. 118:—
Before Section 73 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) An application may be made to the court by a trade union or other body for an order fixing rates of remuneration for a class of workers to whom, immediately before the commencement of this Act, no wages (standard rate) order applied.
(2) Where an application is made to the court under this section in respect of a class of workers, the following provisions shall have effect:—
(a) if the applicant appears to the court to be representative of workers of that class, the court shall publish notice of the application in such manner as, in the opinion of the court, is best calculated to bring the application to the notice of all persons concerned;
(b) the court shall consider the application and shall hear all persons appearing to the court to be concerned and desiring to be heard;
(c) the court may, as it thinks fit, refuse the application or make an order providing for such rates of remuneration for the said class of workers as the court thinks fit; (d) where the court makes such order:—
(i) if the applicant notifies the court, within sixteen days after the making of the order, that the order is not acceptable, the court shall thereupon revoke the order,
(ii) if the applicant does not so notify the court the order shall, as on and from the expiration of the said sixteen days, have the like effect as if it were a recorded wage (standard rate) order and bonus order, and
(iii) references in the subsequent sections of this Part to wages (standard rate) orders and bonus orders shall be construed as including references to orders under this section, with the modifications that references to recording shall, in relation to an order under this section, have effect as references to the making of the order, and references to cancellation of a recording shall have effect as references to the revocation of the order.
This is a recasting of the provisions in accordance with the views expressed during discussions on the Bill on the Second Reading. The new section will provide that an application may be made by a trade union, or a body of workers, for an order fixing rates of remuneration for a class of workers for which there was no standard rate order hitherto. The court shall consider the application and make an order which will prescribe the rate of wages which will then become effective, as if there had been a standard rate order for these workers recorded by the court. There are many cases where a standard rate order was not made under the Emergency Powers Act because I deemed it to be impracticable, or undesirable, to make it, due to the complicated nature of the arrangements for payment in operation. There may be other cases where a standard rate order was not made because no application was forwarded. In order to enable the workers of every class to take advantage of this Part of the Bill it is necessary that some provision of this kind, by which the absence of a standard rate order can be met, should be made in order to give the court power to, in effect, make a standard rate order. That is the purpose of this new section.
Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.