Industrial Relations Bill, 1946—Recommittal (Resumed) and Final Stages.
Amendment No. 39 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 40:—
In page 11, Section 30, to add at the end of the section, line 42, the following new sub-section:—
(4) Any person who contravenes the provisions of this section shall be guilty of an offence under this section, and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding fifty pounds.
(5) Notwithstanding anything contained in Section 10 of the Petty Sessions (Ireland) Act, 1851, proceedings may be brought under this section at any time within 12 months after the date on which the offence was committed.
There is no provision in Section 30 so far as contravention of any of the subsections is concerned. In regard to the question of the registration of an agreement, since it covers the question of rates of pay, it is felt that penalties should follow any departure from anything contained in the subsections. In that particular section, there is no provision for penalties.
This amendment would introduce a new principle. There are provisions for penalties under Section 31. At least, Section 31 provides for a complaint being made to the labour court by a trade union of workers affected by an agreement that an employer affected by the agreement is not observing it and the court has the power to order the employer to take such action as will rectify his default, including the payment of arrears of pay to a worker concerned. It is intended that the enforcement of a registered agreement should be through the labour court and not by the Minister in the same way as rates of wages or conditions of employment prescribed by a joint labour committee would be enforced by the Minister. I think it is undesirable that the Minister should come into the picture at all in the enforcement of registered agreements. I think the proposal in the Bill that the labour court will function in that regard is preferable.
Am I to understand then that the Minister's point of view is that, when there is contract of service, and where subsequently an agreement is registered levelling up the rates of pay in the contract to the rates provided for in the registered agreement, if this agreement is broken, the method of remedy is to go to the labour court?
That is the method of remedy open to a trade union. An individual who is not a member of a trade union would have to go to the ordinary court to enforce his contract.
He merely then goes to require the employer to comply with the terms of an agreement which affects him under Section 30?
But if the individual has a grievance and the agreement is registered, if he is a member of a union, the complaint can be left, under Section 31, to the labour court, and there is a remedy that way?
But if he still elects to remain an individualist instead of a trade unionist, he has to go to the ordinary court and get a remedy there for any failure on the part of the employer to comply with the minimum terms of the agreement?
The Minister will see that Section 30 says "if a worker of the class," whereas Section 31 says: "trade union."
That is the difference. There was some reference to it in Committee. We confine Section 31 to a trade union, giving the remedy to trade unions.
Is it not clear that once the agreement is registered, the worker if he wants a remedy can thereupon become a member of a union and in that way ventilate his grievance through the court?
If the trade union is representative of workers affected by the agreement—in other words, it must be a union that has an interest in the agreement.
It would get that interest once its members had an interest.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment 41:
In page 11, before Section 31, to insert a new section as follows:—
"(1) When an employment agreement is registered the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the registration together with such particulars of the agreement as the court considers necessary.
(2) When a registered employment agreement is varied the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the variation together with such particulars of the variation as the court considers necessary.
(3) When the registration of an employment agreement is cancelled the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the cancellation.
(4) The court may from time to time publish in such manner as it thinks fit lists of registered employment agreements together with such particulars of the agreements as the court considers necessary.
(5) The court shall cause to be supplied to any person who applies therefor and pays the prescribed fee a copy of the registered employment agreement."
The principle of this amendment was discussed on an earlier amendment. It provides for the publication of details of registered agreements, of alterations in registered agreements and, as was suggested, for the publication of lists of registered agreements with particulars which would enable them to be identified.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 42:—
In page 12, Section 31, to delete sub-section (2), lines 1 to 22, and substitute the following sub-section:
(2) If an employer or a trade union representative of employers affected by a registered employment agreement complains to the court that a trade union representative of workers affected by the agreement is promoting or assisting out of its funds in the maintenance of a strike which to the knowledge of the general committee of management of the trade union of workers is in contravention of the agreement and which has for its object the enforcement of a demand on an employer to grant to a worker remuneration or conditions other than those fixed by the agreement, the following provisions shall have effect:
(a) the court shall consider the complaint and shall hear all persons appearing to the court to be interested and desiring to be heard;
(b) if, after such consideration, the court is satisfied that the complaint is well-founded—
(i) the court may, by order, direct the said trade union of workers to refrain from assisting out of its funds in the maintenance of the said strike;
(ii) the court may cancel the registration of the agreement.
Deputies will remember that I accepted an amendment by Deputy Norton in Committee subject to revision of its wording by the Parliamentary draftsman. Some revision was found to be necessary and this is the amendment, as accepted, revised. The changes effected by the revision are as follows: First of all, the sub-section is made to apply to an employer "affected by an agreement" instead of an employer "party to an agreement," and also to a trade union "affected by an agreement" instead of "party to an agreement." That change is necessary because it is clear that an employer may be affected by although not party to an agreement, and consequently he should have the limited protection which the section gives. Similarly, a trade union, in circumstances mentioned by Deputy Norton a moment ago, might be affected although not party to an agreement and consequently should come under the section also.
The second change is in the tense. The sub-section, as introduced in Committee, refers to a trade union which "has promoted" a strike and that should obviously be a trade union that "is promoting" a strike. The word "deliberately" is left out before "promoted" because it adds nothing to the strength and might cause some ambiguity in interpretation. "The governing body of a trade union" is changed to "the general committee of management of a trade union," which is considered more appropriate; and the wording at the end is revised, not for the purpose of altering the sense but to make the meaning clear. The other changes are drafting changes and do not affect the sense.
And that inelegant word "connivance" has been cut out. I still would prefer if the section were phrased in its opening words in the way it was in the Bill when we discussed it on the Committee Stage. I do not think the section has been improved by making it possible for an employer affected by a registered agreement to complain to the court that a trade union representing the workers "(party to the agreement) has, deliberately promoted or assisted out of its funds in the maintenance of a strike which to the knowledge and with the connivance of the governing body of the trade union of said workers took place in contravention of the agreement...." The whole purpose of the section has been that those who are parties to an agreement make the agreement and if they break it they are amenable to the court for a decision. Now we are getting away from that and permitting an employer not a party to the agreement to come into court, although he was in no sense a principal to the transaction.
He might, nevertheless, be subject to the agreement.
Although he is subject to the agreement, he is subject in the sense that he has got to give the same rate of wages as the good-class employer who makes the agreement. If he wants to get a remedy against a union and have the right to complain, he ought to be compelled to go in and negotiate the agreement in the first instance. If he does not, he has no right to complain. The law simply says that the agreement was negotiated by the good-class employers and the trade unions and if he wants to come in he will have to go into the agreement. If, for reasons of his own, he does not want to be in the employers organisation and does not want to take part in the negotiations, then he has no standing. It seems to be a novelty to say that any person who never took part in the agreement and knows nothing about its terms, except what he has heard after it is made, can come into court with the same standing as an employer who took part in and voluntarily undertook to carry out the terms of the agreement. I still hold that an employer who will not come in and negotiate an agreement ought to be told that the penalty is that he cannot make a complaint in court.
I do not think that would be reasonable.
It was reasonable up to the Committee Stage, as that is what the Minister was doing then.
If the Deputy would turn back to sub-section (1) he will see that it gives power to a trade union "affected" by an agreement although not a party to it, the right to take action against an employer who is subject to it although not a party.
Section 30, as originally introduced, read: "If any party ...to a registered employment agreement."
Yes. But we changed that and agreed that it might be a party "affected" by an agreement.
No, I never agreed to that.
We have agreed that an agreement, when registered, applies to all workers of the defined class, even though the employer of those workers was not a party to the agreement. If there are ten employers and nine of them are party, the tenth has to conform, even though he may have been unwilling to participate in the agreement. If an employer is affected, clearly he must be entitled to the limited protection which this sub-section gives. It would seem to me to be unreasonable to have the section work one way only, that he could be brought before the court by a trade union if he fails to observe the agreement. It is quite fair that he should have the right to complain to the court if the contrary action were being taken against him. Therefore, it seems to be unduly restrictive to confine this section to employers "party" to an agreement. Clearly it should apply to all employers and all trade unions.
I can understand the Minister's desire to balance up one against the other, but I think it would have been better balanced on the old basis.
Take a trade union which was not party to the negotiations which led up to the agreement or to the registration of the agreement. At some stage it acquires members in that class of work and subject to that agreement. Should not that union, catering for those workers, have the right of complaint under the Bill and he held liable to observe the agreement under this sub-section? We must widen the scope of the sub-section to include unions which are "affected" as distinct from those which are "party" to the agreement. If that is true of unions, it must be true also of employers.
Are we discussing amendments Nos. 42 and 43?
Amendment No. 43 is being discussed as an amendment to No. 42.
I would like to mention an aspect of this amendment which has not been mentioned. If it were passed, a most unsatisfactory state of affairs might be created in which, before a person could make a complaint, there would be an examinaction of his credentials to see if he was a party to the registered agreement and all sorts of shades of that would occur. From that point of view, I think it is most undesirable and it would lead to a sort of preliminary point being raised at a discussion as the question whether he was party to the agreement would have to be examined.
Amendment No. 43, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 44, as an amendment to amendment No. 42:
In page 12, Section 31 (2) (b), line 19, to delete the words "out of its funds."
What I want to bring out is that "out of its funds" is altogether too narrow a way of describing the assistance that a trade union could give to a body of workers out on strike. I suggest that would be very difficult to prove, and that if those words were struck out it would leave it "representatives of workers affected by the agreement as promoting or assisting in the maintenance of the strike" and so on. That would be a more definite way of looking into the whole matter. As I said before, there are many ways of assisting a body of workers. I consider that the Minister ought to accept the amendment.
I think the Minister ought not to do any such thing. Instead of making the section clearer, Deputy Dockrell's amendment would make it as complicated as it is possible to make it, because it would then read:
"The court may by order direct the said union of workers to refrain from assisting in the maintenance of the said strike."
Ultimately, the matter would have to be tested as to what was the meaning of "assisting in the maintenance of a strike." So long as a union does not overtly assist people on strike for the purpose of continuing it I think that the whole spirit of the section would be complied with, but "assisting in the maintenance of a strike" may well consist in advising people. If the executive of a union were in consultation with a recalcitrant branch and was trying to persuade them not to persist in an undesirable course of action, certain people might consider that was assisting them, unless the proceedings between the executive and the committee were open for inspection by everybody. It is possible to ascertain whether a union is assisting a strike out of its funds because that fact can be ascertained. The court would be empowered to bring the union before it, and ascertain whether, in fact, any cheques were issued to any members on strike or to the branch committee controlling the strike or to the secretary of the branch committee. When, however, you try to get a definition of what "assisting in the maintenance of a strike" really means, you may find that the most trivial act by an executive, or by the principal officers of the executive, may be held to be assisting in the promotion of a strike.
I do not know whether that is the intention of the Deputy or not, but if he wants to create a situation in which almost anything can be construed as "assisting in the maintenance of a strike," short of having a row in public with a difficult branch committee, I do not know of any more effective way in which he could go about it than by seeking to delete the words in his amendment. It ought to satisfy the Deputy and employers generally if the prohibition is related to assisting in the maintenance of a strike out of union funds. If, however, you delete the words "out of the union funds," then the section can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and it will be interpreted mainly against the unions because of the fact that there is no definition of what assisting is. In the section, the meaning of assisting is perfectly clear. It means paying out money in furtherance of a strike. Under the Deputy's amendment assisting might mean giving advice. In that situation, is it the Deputy's intention that unions should be liable to a fine of £500? I think if the Deputy reflects on it he will see that, by his amendment, he is making the section very ambiguous. I am not sure that acceptance of it might not make it possible to use funds in a way not contemplated by the Deputy.
I would not altogether agree that the deletion of the words would make the paragraph ambiguous or ineffective. I think that the power given to the court is adequate when one bears in mind that, in addition to the limitation upon the use of union funds which follows from a court order, the union is also convicted by the court of having broken the agreement. That, in itself, must react on the conduct of the union, because, presumably, its ability to negotiate agreements with employers and generally to cater for its members, will be impaired if there is a declaration by the court that it has broken the agreement. I think that perhaps the moral effect of that decision by the court might be even more effective in many ways than the actual order prohibiting the use of funds. I think, therefore, that the section is effective enough with these words in it. I would not agree that it would be ineffective if the words were out. But, in so far as it is desired to make clear what precisely the effect of the court order will be on the union, it is probably better to leave in the words relating to the funds.
May I direct the Minister's attention to what appears to be an omission? The complaint to the court is that a union has promoted or assisted a strike out of its funds. The court has power to order a union to refrain from assisting a strike out of its funds, but the section is silent on the matter of promoting a strike. The complaint to the court is "promoting or assisting". Is that omission deliberate?
What is intended there is this: that the court having considered the complaint, which it thinks justified, will give an order to the union saying: "You must not assist this strike out of your funds; the strike is in contravention of an agreement, and, consequently, you must not give that form of assistance."
Deputy Norton cited a case which, I think, no fair-minded person could suggest. He said that, if a union entered into negotiations with a recalcitrant body, it would be regarded as "promoting or assisting". I certainly did not suggest that. I suggest a case for the consideration of the Deputy in which the assisting would be out of its funds. Suppose a union said: "Well, look here, of course we cannot assist you out of our funds, but we suggest that the members should agree to put a levy on themselves." I suggest that the retention of the words "out of its funds" makes the thing too narrow altogether.
It seems to me that we are overlooking the whole basis on which we are trying to frame the section. The Minister referred to the fact that, in effect, the real penalty imposed on a union is, first of all, cancellation of the registered agreement, and secondly, pillorying of a union as one whose bond cannot be accepted in good faith. I think that Deputy Dockrell is aware that the whole basis of collective negotiation is acceptance on the part of each party to an agreement that the word of the other party will, as a general rule, be kept. If we depart from that, we are departing from what is the test of collective bargaining. Any union which acquires the reputation that its word cannot be accepted will soon find that it will not be in a position to negotiate agreements. On the other hand, if the amendment proposed by Deputy Dockrell is accepted, it will open the door to possible abuse, as indicated by Deputy Norton. Deputy Dockrell does not seem to have taken notice of the other side of the picture. If I were a trade union official and desired to enter into an agreement, which I had no intention of keeping, I should be in favour of Deputy Dockrell's amendment. It could be taken advantage of by such a union, whereas a union which proposed to act in good faith might be penalised. On consideration, I think that Deputy Dockrell will find that the paragraph would be better as it is even from his point of view.
When you come to construe "union" legally under amendment No. 42, it may very well be established that a trade union means not merely a union collectively but an official of the union, on the ground that the union is responsible for his actions.
A levy ordered by the union executive would I think be covered by the section.
It might be held under Section 31, as amended by amendment No. 42, that the term "trade union" would include an official of the union. An official of the union might be sympathetic to a strike which a union proper was not assisting by making funds available to members. The official might be a local man engaged in directing the unofficial strike. It might be held that the union proper was, in those circumstances, guilty of an offence and, in that case, the union could be held liable to the fine set out in the section. Other cases will occur to the Deputy. Suppose a large trade union organisation has premises in different parts of the country. An unofficial strike is being conducted by a local branch committee from its premises, where office equipment, owned by the union proper, is installed and where a staff, paid by the union proper, is operating. It might be held that, by making the hall available to the branch for the unofficial strike and by making clerical assistance available, the union was in some way assisting in the promotion and maintenance of the strike. I think that that is not contemplated at all. Deputy Dockrell will have to find his consolation and the unions will have to find their consolation in the fact that, if people make agreements, they are morally bound to keep them. If the Bill were to be conceived in a policeman spirit—keeping an eye on the other fellow—not many agreements would be registered and this Bill would not work in the smooth way we hope it will. In these circumstances, I suggest that Deputy Dockrell should not press his amendment.
Amendment No. 44, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 42 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 45:—
In page 12, Section 31, to insert before sub-section (3) a new sub-section as follows:—
(a) a strike continues after the court has made an Order under sub-section (2) of this section in respect of the strike, and
(b) members of a trade union of workers, whose rates of remuneration or conditions of employment are not the subject of the strike, are unable or decline to work while the strike continues,
then, the payment to those members of strike benefit in accordance with the rules of the trade union shall not be regarded, for the purposes of this section, as assisting in the maintenance of the strike.
It will be recollected that I had an amendment to the same effect for Committee, but it had to be withdrawn for redrafting, following changes effected in the Bill.
I should like to draw the Minister's attention to paragraph (b) of this amendment:—
"members of a trade union of workers, whose rates of remuneration or conditions of employment are not the subject of a strike, are unable or decline to work while the strike continues, then, the payment to those members of strike benefit ...shall not be regarded...as assisting in the maintenance of the strike."
Surely if the members decline to work, that is the essence of a sympathetic strike.
The Deputy knows as well as I do that the practice of not passing a strike picket is adopted by all organised workers. If there were a strike of boilermen in a factory, it would not be reasonable for the employer to expect other workers in the factory to insist on continuing their work. Normally, a strike of one class of workers involves a cessation of work or a refusal by other workers to do work in the same premises. What is provided for here is: if there are two grades of workers, members of the same union, in the same premises, one grade of which is on strike, the fact that the other grade decline to work on the premises while the strike continues will not be a reason why dispute pay should not be given to them by the trade union. Whatever the Deputy might desire to see, having regard to the realities of the situation, it is reasonable to make this provision.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 46:—
In page 12, Section 31 (3), line 29, to delete the word "five" and substitute the word "one" and, in line 30, to delete the word "fifty" and substitute the word "ten".
I undertook to consider the question of reducing the substantial fine provided for in sub-paragraph (iii). I mentioned as my reason for hesitating about reducing the fine the possibility that, in some cases, the employer might find it cheaper to pay the fine than to pay the arrears of wages due to workers who had got less than the fixed rate. However, I have reduced the fine to £100 for the offence and £10 per day for continuance of the offence.
It is provided in sub-paragraph (iii), which we are now amending, that if an order is made by the court under paragraph (b), and the direction contained in the order is not carried out, the person to whom the direction is given shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a fine not exceeding £100, as now prescribed. Does the word "person" include a trade union there?
There is no likelihood of its covering an individual of the union?
The word "person" is collective and, on the other hand, would cover a firm, as distinct from an individual member.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 47 and 48 will have to be taken together.
The amendments were as follows:—
47. In page 12, Section 32, lines 32 and 33, to delete the words "(including proceedings in a court of law) under this Part" and substitute the words "in a court of law".
48. In page 12, Section 32, line 32, to delete the word "including" and substitute therefor the word "excluding".
I move amendment No. 47. It is a drafting amendment. It is intended to provide that, whenever proceedings are taken in a court of law in which a question as to the interpretation or application of a registered agreement arises, the matter will be referred to the labour court for decision, irrespective of whether the proceedings arise under this Act or under any other Act.
I put down amendment No. 48, which cannot be regarded as a very satisfactory one, simply to provide a means of raising this point. Has the Minister considered what has been discussed in this connection?
Say that proceedings arise in a court at the level of the Circuit Court—for instance a workman's compensation case. We get then the question of a man's agreement and the employment risks he has to undergo. The court has to consider a matter referred to in many decided cases, what is called the added risks or the added peril. The question whether it is added or not arises on consideration of the agreement itself—has the man put himself in a new peril in connection with work not really related to the conditions of employment? The principles with regard to added peril or added risk are then adjudicated upon. The basis of the whole thing is, what are the conditions of employment and has the man incurred any extra risk?
Suppose you have a claim for workmen's compensation as a result of an injury suffered by a workman. That is going to be considered by the court on (a) the terms of his employment and (b) something extra to which the man has subjected himself. Does the Minister realise that, under this amendment, workmen's compensation cases will have to be referred to the industrial court to get an interpretation on his agreement or the terms of employment? That matter will have to be sent back to be adjudicated upon by this lay court. Appeals in workmen's compensation cases are taken now direct to the Supreme Court. It is possible that a point may be raised in the Supreme Court which has not been raised in the first hearing. Does the Minister seriously contemplate that the judges in the highest court in this country, considering the arguments in a workman's compensation case, may be suddenly held up in their hearing by the consideration: "Well, there is an agreement here of which we should like to have an interpretation. We realise, however, that the interpretation of the agreement under Section 32 is a matter not for us but for an entirely different court." They then close their proceedings until this matter is referred to the lay court and the lay court sends back their interpretation of the agreement. That is one case. I am taking an ordinary case but these cases could be multiplied ad infinitum.
Take a case where a man is dismissed, and makes a claim for wrongful dismissal. The question arises then whether he has been dismissed in accordance with the conditions of his agreement. Say that he is in the High Court claiming £500 for wrongful dismissal. Does the Minister seriously contemplate that if such a question is raised in the High Court, the case has to be interrupted until such time as the lay court—I am calling it that without offence—has pronounced upon the meaning of the agreement? I suggest that was not in the Minister's contemplation when this Bill was being drafted.
I unwillingly accept the view that the labour representatives—I do not know why—would rather have a lay court than the ordinary courts to decide this question. I have not heard any satisfactory reasons for that except it is founded on conditions which may be easily confined. I could understand the labour representatives saying: "We would rather have a situation in which the lay court decides on the interpretation, where on the results of the interpretation, a question depends as to whether there is an industrial dispute or not". I could imagine everything relating to industrial disputes being confined. I regret that that should be the situation but I am taking that as the view that after deliberation has been accepted by the labour representatives. Let us limit it to that point of view and let the Minister accept that. The labour representatives say that in anything leading to a trade dispute they would prefer to have the interpretation of such an agreement brought before the lay court. Surely, however, the question of a man's rights, say in regard to alleged wrongful dismissal or compensation for incapacity to work, should be left to the ordinary courts for their determination.
I wonder could the Minister not make some division and say that any question leading to a labour dispute or involved in a labour dispute might be left for the interpretation of the agreement to the lay court but that once you have an agreement registered, when it comes to the question of a man's right to compensation for injury or for wrongful dismissal, that should be left to the independent judiciary established by the State. After all the energy that has been expended during the centuries on the establishment of an independent judiciary as the best system of getting the rule of law established in the country, I think it is a rather haphazard decision to take away from the ordinary courts every question as to the interpretation of an agreement or of a man's obligations under the agreement. That is going to be left entirely and completely to the lay court. I should like to hear some further explanation from the Minister in support of that proposal.
I have no doubt the desirability of this procedure. I think there are a number of advantages in having the interpretation of a registered agreement solely the function of the labour court. Not only is the atmosphere of that court likely to lead to a more intelligent interpretation of the agreement than the atmosphere of the ordinary court, but the confining of that function to the labour court ensures a uniformity of interpretation which may be of considerable importance. There are other advantages also. It is, I think, worth mentioning that this procedure means that any person can get an interpretation of a registered agreement without having to institute formal proceedings. He can go to the labour court for an interpretation of an agreement at any time he wishes. If there was a necessity to have these agreements interpreted by the ordinary courts, there would have to be some action taken before the question of interpretation would arise there. May I point out also that this practice of interpreting collective agreements by non-legal courts is to be found in the legislation of many countries. In fact, it exists at present in Great Britain.
Under the legislation passed during the war, and which is still in force. The New Zealand legislation also provides for no appeal from the Arbitration Court established under the New Zealand Act.
That is in very limited circumstances.
There is this difference in the circumstances, that the chairman of the New Zealand court is a judge, a person holding legal qualifications and having the same tenure as an ordinary judge, but on the principle of final interpretation of an agreement no appeal from the decisions of that court is provided in that legislation. I do not think that this practice will constitute the difficulty that the Deputy contemplates. Certainly I do not think the difficulty would be such as to outweigh the very obvious advantages. There may be objections to this court because it is composed mainly of a non-legal personnel. The objection would not be as strong if the chairman were qualified in legal matters, a judge of the High Court or of the Supreme Court, but the arguments against the appointment of a legal person as chairman of the court are purely practical arguments. It does not necessarily follow that the decisions of the court will not be uniform and in strict accord with the interpretation of agreements in the spirit in which they were framed and which the court understood them to mean when they accepted them for registration.
It seems to me that to provide for an appeal from the labour court, on the question of the interpretation of an agreement, to the ordinary courts or to provide for circumstances under which the ordinary courts of law could interpret independently of the labour court would introduce a risk of such complications that it would not be worth while doing it merely for the sake of theory, or for the sake of avoiding the necessity for resorting to a procedure which is unusual in a court of law. I do not think that there should be any difficulty in making rules which would ensure that, when a question of this kind would arise in a court of law, it could be referred to the labour court, without delay, and a decision on the interpretation of the agreement received from the labour court and available to the court of law to enable the case to be resumed and a decision to be given at the usual time.
I know that my amendment was rather haphazardly chosen but, bad and all as it is—and I do not claim any great merit for its wording—it meets one difficulty; that is, to put in "excluding" in opposition to the word "including". If the amendment were accepted, then any question arising as to proceedings, excluding proceedings in a court of law, would be referred to the labour court. That would meet the difficulty of which the Minister talked. The Minister has said that he does not want the situation in which all questions would have to be referred to a court. I do not want that either. But if a case has gone to the point that a man has been advised that he has certain rights under the law and that he feels he has such rights, once he takes the step then of going to the court the matter should be left to the court to determine. The amendment, in so far as I seek to change it, would merely mean that where the individual has, on advice, originated an action at law then the law courts should be allowed to decide it.
Supposing, for instance, that an employer group and an employee group made an agreement and something occurred which might lead to a labour dispute—and the whole purpose of this Bill is to avoid such disputes—and an individual is not encouraged to go to a court, then I can see the field to be covered by the people coming back and saying: "We want this interpreted; we want you people in the labour court to get back to the circumstances under which this agreement was drawn up; it is agreed that the people operating before this court came to an agreement along certain lines; if we have badly written that down, or misinterpreted it, we will now correct the agreement and we will get an agreement, by interpretation, which will enable it to be carried out." But where the individual feels that the agreement has not been properly worded and where he wants to find out if he has certain rights based upon that agreement, it should be left then to the independent ordinary judiciary of the country to establish his rights for him. I can well understand circumstances in which a body of employees might say to a body of employers: "We wrote down a certain agreement; certain circumstances have now arisen which we do not think are covered by the agreement; we, therefore, want the agreement to be re-interpreted from a new angle". In that case I certainly think they ought to be entitled to go back and secure, by way of such interpretation, an enlargement or an amendment of the original agreement. But supposing you have an agreement and an individual asserts that he has been wrongfully dismissed under that agreement, surely, it should be open to the independent judiciary of the country to say whether or not he has been wrongfully dismissed and award him damages.
Similarly, if a man says: "I was engaged under certain circumstances and I have been advised and I hold that risks were imposed upon me and that I underwent such risks and suffered an accident and am now disabled"—why should that be referred back to the labour court to say, post facto, what the risks were that the man took in his employment? If an individual is under the sway of his union and his union decides that the matter should be dealt with in another way and that they will go to the labour court and get the court liberally to interpret the conditions of his employment, so that it will be quite clear that the risk was one which was properly incurred in the carrying out of his work, then that individual will naturally go before the ordinary court to get his risk valued in money's worth. But, to my mind, the two things are completely distinct. I do not say that I have found the formula to make the distinction here in this phrase, but I think the two sets of circumstances are clear and distinct. You have a somewhat analogous situation in relation to international agreements. People are often asked to submit these to a court; they invariably say: “No, we will not; we will go back to the people who made the agreement with us and we will try to find out what that agreement means; we will explore the contents; there are new circumstances now which give light and life to a phrase and we want to have that particular phrase analysed”. They will be told: “That is not what we meant and you know that is not what we meant”, and they will get an enlargement or an amendment of that agreement. But, take again the case of the individual who says: “I believe I have rights under this and I want to go to the courts to get my rights”, I say he should be allowed to do that. If we set any value on the independent judicial institutions of this country we should give them liberty to analyse that type of agreement.
The Minister spoke about uniformity. What is the likelihood of a lack of uniformity? I can only see that arising through minds which think the courts adopt a too narrow or too rigid viewpoint on agreements that come before them. They sometimes read in to Statutes of this Assembly even meanings which, if the Debates were read, it would be clear were not in the minds of the people who framed the Statutes. That may be an objection. But is this court going to build up its own precedents and set its own standards? Is it going to be ruled by its own cases as decided by it? If so, they will build up a body of precedents and they will be bound by their decisions. I hope they will be bound by their decisions; otherwise there would be no stability. Does the Minister think that the two groups— the trained mind in the courts and the lay mind which will eventually become trained through operating in the labour court—are going to be so completely at variance on the interpretation of an agreement as to lead to any confusion? I do not believe there is any ground for that at all. I could see it, perhaps, in isolated cases here and there. The Minister says he wants uniformity. I think he will get uniformity in the end, or something approaching uniformity. But if the independent judiciary is to have any value I think we should sacrifice something in order to uphold that principle. That is why in this amendment I bring it down to the point that if a man is dissatisfied and if he decides to go to a court he ought to be allowed to go to the court and subject himself to the court's decision. That will only occur when a man goes to a court of law.
I think the circumstances in which the outcome of a workmen's compensation case would turn on the wording of a registered agreement would be very few.
The ordinary type of agreement made between unions and employers certainly does not cover all the circumstances under which an employee has to work. They may be covered by recognised practice or by the requirements of the Factory Acts. They may be entirely at the discretion of the employer. In fact, in the majority of the occupations the condition under which the workers perform their work is at the sole discretion of the employer and no attempt is made by the unions to interfere in any way. It seems to me that, if this provision remains as it stands, the practice will develop that where a person taking an action in the courts is advised that the outcome may turn upon the interpretation of a particular registered agreement he will go first to the labour court and get his interpretation.
And my amendment will meet that situation because he will not go to the court until he gets his interpretation.
The Deputy's amendment will not secure that. The provisions of the Bill would secure it.
Any question arising in any proceedings, excluding a court of law, would be referred to the court. Supposing the man, who feels he has a right, says: "I will go to the labour court first to get an interpretation", if my amendment is correct, he should go to the court, but, once he institutes proceedings he will then put himself, by his own activity, outside the interpretation of the labour court. The only point is, is he taking the initiative in the matter?
The Deputy is taking a very limited type of case now. The decision of a court of law might arise in a claim for arrears of wages or in circumstances in which a decision of a court of law would be required to determine as to whether workers are of a certain class or not.
It is hardly likely to apply to workmen's compensation cases at all.
You could have registered agreements governing their conditions of employment.
It will affect cases of wrongful dismissal where questions may arise as to whether the rule for dismissing redundant workers is followed or not. It may arise in a claim for arrears of wages and on the question of rates payable; that, in turn, may depend upon the nature of the work the person is doing or the class in which he should be placed as a worker.
Quite recently a dispute arose in County Dublin where workers were employed as general labourers. At a stage during their employment they claimed that the work they were doing at that particular point was work which ordinarily should be done by builders' labourers, to which a different rate applied. There was a question of fact there which could, I think, be determined by this labour court much more satisfactorily than by a court of law. But, if we had the possibility that, by going to the court of law on some claim, a different interpretation was put on the agreement, or a different decision was taken as to the fact, then we might have a situation where many hundreds of workers covered by the registered agreement would feel that they were entitled to claim some alteration in their conditions of employment because they were outside the scope of the registered agreement, or because a decision of a court of law appeared to bring them within the scope of it. It is because a difficulty of that kind might result from having a situation in which the scope of a registered agreement, or its application to any class of worker, will be decided by a court of law that this is considered to be the more desirable arrangement.
It seems to me that Deputy McGilligan's objection to it is very largely theoretical. It is based upon a feeling that it is in some way a reflection on the capacity of courts of law to have them in this particular matter bound by the decision of the labour court on a question of the interpretation of a registered agreement. I do not think that is very valid. I pointed out that it is not unusual in the law of other countries and that, in any event, it is not altogether different from business contracts which are to be settled by the arbitration of a named person or the arbitration of some named body. In that case, in any action arising in a court of law the court would have to take into account the terms of the contract and assume that the parties had agreed to be bound by the arbitration of some named person or body. It certainly would not be regarded as casting any reflection on the capacity of the court to interpret the contract equitably themselves. Having regard to the very practical advantages in keeping this question within the sphere of this court, it seems to me that the theoretical objection which Deputy McGilligan advances does not outweigh it. While there may be some question as to the constitutionality of the procedure, I have no doubt whatever as to its desirability.
This law cannot override the Constitution.
It does not override the Constitution. If, on examination of the position, there is a doubt as to that, we might have to reconsider the section. But, apart from that purely technical aspect of it, I have no doubt whatever as to its desirability.
I think the arbitration question is not relevant to this, because there the parties freely enter into an agreement and, if any dispute arises, they will in the first instance refer the matter to arbitration. There are, of course, court proceedings which often follow in the background of that matter. That is excluded by this. The matter is not just on the same footing. I want to achieve that, if an employer or an employee wants to go to the labour court to get an agreement interpreted, he can go. All I ask is that, if one or other of the parties, and either of the parties can be forestalled by the other going to the labour court, decides to take the bold course of going into a court of law, the court of law ought to be left to adjudicate. That is the sole purpose of the amendment. It is excluding proceedings in a court of law. Proceedings in a court of law must be instituted by somebody. The court does not institute them on its own. The court cannot say to the people: "You are unwilling to come to court and you are going to be brought into court by us." The institution of proceedings lies with somebody who will be called a plaintiff in an action. All I ask is that, if somebody decides to become a plaintiff in a court of law, the court of law should have full cognisance and that there should be no interruption of the proceedings for a reference to the labour court.
It may be said in answer to me that some crank of an individual may say: "I am going to the court; I do not care anything about the labour court, and I am going to go ahead." It will be a very odd case in which one individual can take that course, bringing about an interpretation which may bind hundreds of thousands of people. The unions or the employer's side will know what is on and they can go to the labour court for an interpretation, and the interpretation, if made before the proceedings are instituted in a court of law, will be binding, because, if there is an agreement which is the foundation of a basic dispute, the agreement, with its interpretation, will be before the court. What I object to is, and I ask the Minister to take it seriously, if somebody becomes a plaintiff in a court of law in a case in which he is seeking some right founded upon an agreement, that that judicial inquiry should be interrupted in its course in order to get a lay court to say what the agreement means. I think that if a man seeks a court of law he should be left to it, knowing that he has resort to the labour court to get an interpretation beforehand.
In the course of his statement, the Minister made reference to the fact that, perhaps, the section might be held to be unconstitutional.
That argument was advanced on Tuesday last.
I think the Minister had that contention submitted to him from legal sources. Has the matter been examined with a view to establishing the constitutionality of this section, so far as it can be done by reference to legal opinion, or is there still some doubt about the constitutionality of the section?
It is a matter in which I have to be advised and, while the advice given to me is that the section is clear of constitutional objection at the moment, the lawyers concerned, as lawyers always do, have expressed a desire to think again on the matter. It is not to be assumed that their second thoughts will be different from their first.
Supposing you had a registered agreement which involved classes corresponding to Part III of the Trade Union Act, 1941, and that afterwards some man desired to raise the question whether that agreement was constitutional or not, the court would decide that it was unconstitutional. You could not prevent that matter being raised in the High Court and subsequently in the Supreme Court on the mere point of constitutionality, I do not care what you say.
I am not disputing that. The only thing which I can do at this stage is to fortify myself with what I regard as adequate advice that the courts are likely to hold that the Constitution cannot be pleaded against the Act. It is always open to anybody to have the matter tested in court and there is the chance, as occurred in connection with the Trade Union Act, that the court will decide contrary to the advice given to me.
If a matter arises on the interpretation of an agreement which raises the Constitution, I want to be clear that that cannot go before this court.
If the Constitution comes in, it can be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The Constitution says that no matter touching on the constitutionality of the statute—and that would apply to an agreement—can be raised anywhere except in the High Court, with an appeal to the Supreme Court. Therefore, if somebody, on the interpretation of an agreement being mooted, raises the point that it is unconstitutional, the labour court could not consider that—that would have to go to the High Court.
Amendment No. 47 agreed to.
Amendment No. 48 not moved.
I move amendment No. 49:—
In page 12, Section 32, lines 34 and 35, to delete the words "or its application to any particular person".
Direct reference was made to this amendment when we were dealing with amendment No. 19 to Section 16 on Tuesday night. By the way, we then had a rather prolonged discussion, extending to upwards of two hours. At the close of the discussion the Minister indicated, on the general question, that he would like to have another look at certain amendments before the Bill reaches the Seanad.
So far as we are concerned, we are quite prepared to accept the Minister's assurance that he is including this in that category.
It seems to me that one of the most important of matters is the application of the registered agreement. I think that is more important than the interpretation of the registered agreement. Disputes are more likely to arise out of the application rather than out of the interpretation.
The Minister knows the prolonged controversy that arose as to the rights of the individual?
That is one aspect I have considered. A question may arise as to whether a group of workers is of a particular class or not. That is obviously a matter that the labour court should decide.
If the labour court eventually gives the ordinary courts some lead as to what "class" means, it will be doing a great service.
This is distinguishing one group of workers from another. Everyone knows that some of the most difficult labour disputes arise out of whether certain work is a plumber's work, a carpenter's work or a plasterer's work. The important question is whether an agreement applies to particular workers or not.
You could differentiate. "Class" could mean grade of work or function.
We have not attempted to define "class" here.
You did try a definition in the Trade Union Act, and there was a bewilderment clause.
We want to make it possible to define workers, not by the type of work they do, but by the person who employs them or the part of the country where they work.
Area is one of the things that was picked out in the Trade Union Act. The word "class" as used in the Constitution has been subject to analysis a couple of times in court and they have not come to any decision as to what the word means, yet you say the labour court will define it.
If you define "class" in any way here you will be introducing a limit.
I suggest that before you go to the Seanad you should try to get a formula for "class".
My advice is that any attempt to define "class" will limit it.
Then any class of workers simply means workers?
Is the amendment being withdrawn?
It is a valuable amendment and I ask the Minister to consider, if he will leave the interpretation of the agreement to certain people, that he should at least leave this to the courts. Once the agreement is clarified as to what it means, the people who come under the agreement should be left to the determination of the ordinary courts. You take that out by making it the duty of the labour court to show not merely what the agreement means, but the people, the individuals, the groups and segregations are to be a matter entirely for the decision of the labour court.
That is a most important function of the labour court.
If the agreement is not wide enough, it can be amended. If the labour court is to have any function about making an agreement, and if it is found that people are outside the scope of it when it is fully interpreted, it can be amended.
It is quite clear there is no limiting provision in the Bill. The labour court will be the sole judge as to whether the definition of a class is clear enough to enable it to be identified.
Let us bring ourselves back to the old conditions under which an agreement was made. We are quite clear that the wording is satisfactory and we do not want it changed; we want it left there as it is. Why should it not be left there?
It is not as simple as all that. In a cotton or a woollen mill there are six or seven grades of workers.
Suppose we say the phrasing of an agreement is not wide enough and it does not envelop folk that we intend to envelop. Suppose they say it is quite clear, on the widest interpretation that this can be given, that it does not take in people to whom we intend it to apply, and we want a new agreement with the consent of the parties concerned. Suppose there is a new agreement and a man says: "I believe I have rights", why should you not let him go to the courts?
You can get an interpretation from the labour court.
Interpretation means that something is not clear about a formula that is used. You get the people who made the agreement to meet again. You say to them: "Here are the circumstances and all the relevant matters must be considered. We did intend it to go beyond that and we think it is quite clear that it should have a more extensive application and we want it interpreted in that way". They get that interpretation. Suppose they say: "It does not bring these people in and we think it should include certain people and we ask for a new agreement". They get that new agreement and then there is an amendment of the old-time agreement. They get a new group brought in. Suppose there is a deadlock and an interpretation and one man says: "I still believe I have rights under that agreement as interpreted and I want to go to the courts to get my rights", why should he not be let do so?
He can get a determination by this court.
Supposing he is advised he is inside it and the court adjudication will find that, why should he not be allowed to test that at his own expense?
Because the decision of the court in these matters is final. It is the same law in other countries.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Several of the amendments that follow have been submitted to clarify different sections of the Bill.
Down to amendment No. 57?
The following amendments were agreed to:—
50. In page 16, Section 44 (2), line 12, to insert after the word "court" the words "by which he is convicted" and in line 13 to insert before the word "court" the word "said". —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
51. In page 16, Section 44 (4), line 40, to insert after the word "court" the words "before which the proceedings are taken", and in line 42 to insert before the word "court" the word "said". —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
52. In page 17, Section 47 (1), to delete, in paragraph (b) all words from the word "made" in line 47 to the end of the paragraph. —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
53. In page 17, Section 47 (2), line 56, to insert after the word "court" the words "by which he is convicted". —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
54. In page 18, Section 49 (2), line 20, to insert after the word "court" the words "hearing the charge".— Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
55. In page 18, Section 49 (3), line 38, to insert after the word "court" the words "hearing the charge".— Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
56. In page 19, Section 51, sub-section (5), lines 57 and 58, to delete the words "the court may make an Order" and insert the words "an Order may be made". —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
57. In page 20, Section 56, line 25, to delete the words "under this Part" and substitute the words "in any proceedings in a court of law". —Aire Tionnscail agus Tráchtála.
I move amendment No. 58:—
In page 20, Section 57, to delete sub-sections (1) and (2), lines 31 to 42, and substitute the following subsections:—
(1) The court, after publication, in such manner as it thinks fit, of notice of its intention, may, on its own motion or on the application of any interested party, fix, in respect of any area selected by the court, the wage (in this section referred to as the standard wage) which, in the opinion of the court, should be paid to a male adult worker performing in that area unskilled work for a normal working week.
(2) In fixing the standard wage for any area the court shall have regard to the prevailing level of wages for other workers in that area.
This is the redraft of the section which, on Committee, I undertook to frame.
The following amendments also stood on the Order Paper:—
59. In page 20, Section 57 (1), to delete all words from and including the word "male" in line 34, down to and including the word "upwards" in line 35, and substitute the word "worker". —James Everett, James P. Pattison.
60. In page 20, Section 57 (2) (b) and (c), to delete all lines 40, 41 and 42, and substitute therefor:—
(b) the effect on the community of the increase in purchasing power resulting from the payment of the standard wage,
(c) the principles of social justice. —Patrick McGilligan.
We suggest that there should be provision for something in the nature of a living wage, that it should not be a standard wage all the time. The Government, by regulation, have kept wages at a very low level, and we should have some provision in our Acts of Parliament for a family wage. Deputy Larkin spoke about a wage sufficient to keep a man in working efficiency, but wages at present, as tied down by Government regulations, would not keep a man in working efficiency and these wages are responsible for emigration and so on. We suggest that some words other than "standard wage" should be used in the Bill.
As I explained in Committee, what we are trying to do in the section is something very limited and very practical. It is to try to provide, by order of the court, which will have no binding effect, an improvement of wages for general workers in smaller towns by the moral effect of the court's determination. That will not work, unless the court relates its finding to the actual conditions prevailing in the town. If you try to elaborate it by putting on the court the obligation to have regard to extraneous matters, either the court will not use its powers, or the determination will be ineffective, because, unless it has a clear relation to the conditions prevailing, the rates paid to other workers in the vicinity or in the neighbouring towns, it just will not be observed. I explained that what we are trying to do here is based on our experience of the Standstill Order The making of a standard rate order for these workers, even though it was not obligatory on the employers to pay that rate, did, in fact, mean that the rate was paid, and workers who were unorganised and not in a position to press their claims themselves got the benefit of the increase, by reason of the fact that what was regarded as a Government Order had been made. We are trying to carry that advantage over into permanent legislation. It may not work, but I am quite certain it will not work if we try to do more than the very limited thing we have in mind.
With regard to the amendment in my name, I have raised the point already and do not propose to elaborate it in any great detail. The Minister's amendment says that the court, in certain circumstances, is to fix a wage referred to as the standard wage and that wage is to be a wage which, in the opinion of the court, should be paid. "Should be paid"—on what basis? The only basis given is the next sub-section, dealing with the rates prevailing for other workers in the area, so that, if wages are at a low level, that low level is to be taken as the standard by which the standard rate is to be fixed. That may be a very low level, as we have it at the moment, owing to the increased cost of living and the fact that the power of our money has decreased. Is that to be stereotyped for all time? How is the wage level to be raised?
I suggest other standards in my amendment. I suggest that certain things should be brought into consideration, amongst these being the matters referred to in the Constitution, the principles of social justice—a not very well defined matter at the moment, but capable of definition, and certainly capable of such definition as to be applicable to workers of a particular type in a particular area under certain conditions. I also ask to have considered the matter of purchasing power. Here I am simply trying to get thought given to the new point of view that one should no longer think of wages as something which, if they have to be paid to a worker, are something taken from what would otherwise be regarded as the legitimate amount the employing side could claim, which, I think, is an old-time idea and one of which we are getting rid, although not so fast in this country as might be desired.
Purchasing power may work in two ways. It may hold up an increase in wages because it might be that a well-informed court, thinking of purchasing power, might say: "If we release too much purchasing power in relation to a limited supply of goods, we will cause inflation and the new wage will be lower in buying power than the old." They might also say: "The purchasing power we release will call for new goods which can easily be produced in a particular country"—say, for instance, agricultural goods here—" and if we create a demand for them, we are likely to cause the new goods to be produced and cause repercussions of a benevolent type elsewhere." Therefore, they would say: "Although there is a time lag and there may be an upward movement, it will be met when new goods come on the market and these new goods will be easily called into production."
I am not denying that the thought of purchasing power may, at times, stop a demand for increases in wages, but, in the main, particularly when we think of the way in which wages are spent here, on agricultural goods, on sustenance, on consumer goods of the subsistence type, which can readily be made in this country, I do not think that there will be any great likelihood that this standard will be used to depress wages, but will be used generally to bring about an upward movement, but it will give leave to people to consider the bad effect of increased purchasing power, to consider what are the circumstances in which increased purchasing power would be bad.
The second matter I want considered is something more than merely the prevailing rate. The prevailing rate may be very low. Suppose the Minister thinks of this measure as sliding into conditions in which the rate, on account of the decrease in the buying power of money, is very low indeed. We more or less stereotype that if we are going to have the term of reference the prevailing level of wages for workers in the area. You are, so to speak, battening down on that low level. Why not give some upward tendency? In this country, which boasts not merely of its Christianity but of its Catholicity, is it too much to ask that we should consider principles of social justice?
I would not like to be asked to say in relation to any matter what the principles of social justice would demand, and I know that eminent ecclesiastics with whom I have from time to time been in touch say that it is a difficult matter to attempt, but they do not say that it is impossible, and do not say that it is an undesirable standard. In fact, the whole tendency of the world is to try to get what have been regarded theoretically as these principles of social justice put more effectively into practice. Why should we not ask that it be done here? It is not that we tell the court: "Find out and determine objectively social justice and the principles of it and their application to certain workers, and rule accordingly", but that is one of the matters to be taken into consideration. If I were a worker, I think I should welcome this with enthusiasm, because I think workers, and certainly workers who have read pronouncements by ecclesiastical authorities on this matter, must feel that, since history began, they have not been paid in accordance with these principles, and that the principle is very much ahead of practice, but nobody wants at this moment to cause the revolution that would be caused by setting that up as an objective standard. It is merely asked that that shall be one of the considerations which will operate in the mind of a court deciding on wages.
Perhaps Deputy Everett's amendment might be moved in this form:—
To delete in sub-section (1) of amendment No. 58 the words "male adult".
Does my amendment not meet Deputy Everett's?
The Minister's amendment rules out the reference to unskilled workers, which was a shocking standard.
Deputy McGilligan is arguing on a basis of theory and I am arguing on the basis of a certain recent experience. I think there is no point in asking the court to consider in this matter the effect on the community of an increase in purchasing power, resulting from the payment of the standard wage. The court will have neither the information on which to decide, nor the function of deciding, these matters. I have said already that I regretted putting in this section, not because I do not think it is going to be useful, but because it has created so much misunderstanding and has caused more trouble than any provision in the Bill.
What happened during the emergency? That is the important question, because it is on our experience of that period this section is based. In a small country town the majority of the unskilled general workers were not in any trade union. The majority of the employers were not in any association. A trade union, having some members in the town, was able to enter into an agreement with the best employers there for a joint application for a standard wage order. That standard wage order when made could be expressed to apply only to the employees and employers who were associated with the application, and could not be made of general application. We amended the Emergency Powers Order to try to ensure that a rate made in that way for unskilled general workers in a small town could be regarded as applying to all such workers in the town, even though they were not members of the applicant union, or not employed by employers associated with the application.
I do not think we were altogether successful in attempting to amend the Order, because there were obviously drafting difficulties and, if not drafting difficulties, there were practical difficulties on the part of people who wished to operate it in getting applications to the tribunal. There was nobody who could be described, no matter how loosely it was interpreted, as representative of workers or employers. It was found where a standard rate order was made for general workers in a small town that all workers in that town eventually succeeded in getting their rate up to that level. Some may have got beyond it but, at least, they got that where they were below it. They were able to point to the Order, and perhaps bring local influence to bear on their employers to get that rate. Many general workers in small towns, such as those employed in hotel yards and others, were paid wages which were very low, judged by any standard, low even judged by the standard of the minimum agricultural wage. It was because I saw that good results had come from the making of a non-effective Order in that particular way I tried to continue the practice in this Bill after the Emergency Powers Order had lapsed. The Order under emergency powers did not bind anyone to pay the wage, but the effect of making it was that wages generally were levelled up to that rate or tended to move towards that rate. It is hoped that the wage fixed under the section will have the same moral effect. Nobody will commit an offence if he does not pay it. The fact that the court makes it will, however, mean that few employers in the area will offer to pay less.
In addition to the possible effect on unorganised workers and unskilled workers in towns of such an order by the court, there is the further advantage that that standard rate fixed by it, although not binding on anyone, will serve as a yardstick by which other rates will be determined, rates for juveniles, rates for women and rates for workers whose employment involves some degree of skill. Generally it will tend to facilitate the unorganised individual workers in a town by improving their condition. If it is thought the section will not have that effect I am prepared to take it out. I think it will. We found that the Emergency Powers Orders had that effect. I discussed this with representatives of the unions who had experience of the making of standard rate orders of that kind and they agreed that it was desirable to try to continue the same process in normal legislation, after the Emergency Powers Orders had lapsed. That is all we are trying to do. We are not trying to institute a device by which the purchasing power of the community as a whole could be increased.
It is obvious that if standard rate Orders made under the emergency powers had not been regarded as suitable by everyone in the locality they would have been ignored. If the court under this section makes an order, which has no regard to the wages prevailing in the locality, unless the opinion in the locality regards the decision of the court as reasonable it will be ignored. If it is regarded as reasonable the tendency will be to relate the rates for unskilled workers and other classes to the rates fixed by the court. I think the general results will be beneficial. I am certain that otherwise it will be innocuous, because the court will not try to utilise it. It would be deterred by having such obligations as Deputy McGilligan proposed.
The Minister's arguments can be summed up in relation to my amendment, asking the effect of the new purchasing power on the community in this way: he has two arguments and one is that the court would not be able to decide that. His wages tribunals—and no one can say that they were efficient bodies—were asked to decide from time to time whether the new wage would have any appreciable effect on the cost of living. How did they decide that?
They were asked to report.
How did they decide any point like that in making a recommendation? The same considerations apply. I have tried to look at it from a new angle. An increase in wages, therefore—as some people would take the jump—an immediate increase in the cost of living. It does not necessarily follow at all. I want to give the countervailing view. Does the new purchasing power call for other goods; does it increase the general level of living? The Minister says that we have no way of deciding that. If not, it is time that we got it. There is the Statistical Bureau. The Minister's general argument is that Papal Encyclicals are not practical politics. That is what it comes to. As to the principles of social justice that we have put in the Constitution as the standard in connection with private property and its use, the Minister says that wage rates fixed would be un-reasonable——
I said if they were regarded as out of relation to the conditions in the locality, they would be ineffective.
Suppose the conditions in the locality are such that judged by standards of social justice they were to be condemned, is the Minister going to keep that condemned situation still operative?
Each individual will exercise his own judgment.
I have no doubt the Minister has the view that many people have. The ideas in the Encyclical of 40 years ago are now in 1946 declared to be likely to lead to such conditions as would be regarded as not being practical politics.
I said nothing of the sort.
Then we are at a very low level indeed.
Have I parodied the Minister in saying that the application of these thoughts about social justice are not practical politics at the moment? Is not that what it comes to?
I think that is what it comes to.
Obviously, every person's interpretation——
I am not talking about every person's interpretation.
——will not be accepted generally.
I asked the Minister earlier to put on that court somebody, one mind out of seven, who would be informed by the principles of the Catholic Church in relation to social justice, and that one man would lend whatever weight his single voice might have to the deliberations of a court of seven, telling them, "Here is what the Christian Church"—I take the Catholic Church—"Here is what the Catholic Church says in relation to that", but the Minister would not have one man out of seven operating in that way in this court.
That is not in this amendment.
I am getting back to this. I asked for such a court to deal with this matter of the standard wage—not the compulsory wage—the Minister stressed that and I stress it again—the standard wage, which might not be made operative in an area, but would be taken as a headline. Remember, part of the deliberations would turn on the point, what are the principles of social justice? I tried to give the Minister a court on which one man out of seven would know what these were. He will not take it.
If it is proposed that rates of wages are to be related——
To the principles of social justice.
——to the principles of social justice or to any economic policy, it requires a different machinery from what we are setting up here. We are proceeding on the principle that wages will be determined——
——by bargaining or negotiation, in the future, as in the past.
Or prevailing rates in the area.
Which are, in turn, determined by bargaining or negotiation.
If any bargaining in regard to wages in an area occurs, then you go before the labour court and what do they determine on? The prevailing rates. You are back again to prevailing rates.
Is the Deputy pressing the amendment?
No, it is no good pressing it.
Amendment No. 60, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment No. 58 agreed to.
Amendment No. 59 not moved.
I move amendment No. 61:—
In page 21, before Section 65, but in Part VI, to insert a new section as follows:—
In the subsequent sections of this Part the word "worker" means any person, being either a worker within the meaning of Section 4 of this Act or an agricultural worker, within the meaning of the Agricultural Wages Act, 1936 (No. 53 of 1936).
This is the effective amendment which brings agricultural workers under this Part of the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 62:—
In page 21, Section 65 (1), lines 45 and 46, to delete the words "and shall at the request of a person concerned therein".
We had considerable discussions on Section 65, and I have reconsidered the whole section arising out of these discussions. It will be recollected that, first of all, there was the question whether the court might decline to interfere in a labour dispute in certain circumstances, whether it should be obliged to interfere in all circumstances, and whether the person who could motivate the court to intervene in a dispute should or should not be representative of persons concerned in the dispute, and how far he should be representative. Considering the whole matter, I came to the conclusion that the wiser way to leave it was merely to provide that, subject to the provisions of this section, where a trade dispute exists, the court may investigate the dispute. That sidesteps all the difficulties that were raised as to the possibility of persons moving the court to act who were not fully representative, acting contrary to the wishes of the majority of the persons concerned, or other difficulties of that kind. It will be now a matter for the court to decide whether the persons approaching it are so representative as to justify its intervention, whether its intervention is likely to be beneficial or otherwise, and it will be at liberty to decline, if it thinks it can do no good, or if the people asking it to intervene are not representative, and if the persons mainly concerned do not want the court's intervention. The court will have discretion to intervene or not as it thinks fit. I think it is the simplest procedure and avoids the necessity for drafting far more elaborate amendments to meet some of the difficulties that were raised on Committee.
The section now says that, subject to the provisions of this section, the court may do certain things where a dispute exists or is apprehended. The Minister is still providing, however, that the court shall not investigate a dispute to which the Electricity Supply Board Act, 1942, applies.
Yes. There is a tribunal, as the Deputy knows, under that Act.
What is to happen there, supposing there is a dispute?
We are putting that tribunal in the position of a joint industrial council.
I had a recollection that we are doing that, but where exactly do we do it? That was running through my mind but I have lost track of where we propose to do it.
Sub-section (3) of Section 65.
I do not see that it is a joint industrial council.
The effect of that sub-section is the same as in the case of a joint industrial council.
In other words, a dispute arising there goes to that tribunal. It does not come to this court unless at the tribunal's request.
In the case of a joint industrial council the Minister's amendment now provides that the court shall not investigate a dispute between persons who are represented on a registered joint industrial council, unless the council so request, or the court is of opinion that the dispute is likely to lead to a stoppage of work. In the case of the Electricity Supply Board tribunal, there is no provision made that the court may intervene if in its opinion a dispute is likely to lead to a stoppage of work.
That is right, I do not think there should. Remember, although in so far as the bringing about of the intervention of the court is concerned, it is proposed to put it in the position that a joint industrial council was in, in fact it is not a joint industrial council.
We are not then putting it in the position of a joint industrial council?
No, because the joint industrial council is, as the Deputy knows, a committee of representatives of both sides, that may settle their differences by negotiation. This tribunal consists of three persons, a nominee of the board, a person elected by the workers and a chairman appointed by me, and it in fact decides upon claims that come before it.
Did not the Minister say a moment ago that he was putting the Electricity Supply Board tribunal in the position of a joint industrial council?
In this regard—that it can, and it only can, bring about the intervention of the court in case of a dispute.
Does that affect amendment No. 62 or No. 63 or both of them?
It does, Sir, I think, and in any case these amendments have their roots in the general discussion which we had on the last day.
On amendment No. 100, not on the Committee Stage.
On the last occasion we were discussing the desirability of allowing the court to intervene where a dispute was likely to occur at all. The Minister said, in respect of joint industrial councils on that occasion, that whilst he originally contemplated that the court could only intervene at the request of the council, he now on balance believes that that is not the best procedure and he says the court can intervene in two circumstances: if the council requests it, or if the court is of opinion that the dispute is likely to lead to stoppage of work. If we do that in respect of joint industrial councils, is there any good reason why we should not carry the same provision into the Electricity Supply Board arrangements?
I think so because the tribunal established under that Act has much the position of an arbitration body and I should think it is most unlikely that it would ordinarily call upon this court at all. It would be only in circumstances where, for some reason, it thought that the better practice, that they would call upon this body.
Supposing you have a dispute in fact?
If a dispute arises, or any worker has a grievance, it is brought to this tribunal, and the tribunal decides on it. It is an arbitration body in fact. The workers' representative is elected by ballot of all the employees of the board at an election carried out under my auspices in accordance with regulations I have made. The chairman is appointed by me and the other member is nominated by the board and it has, I think, functioned very successfully.
If there is a dispute in the future in the Electricity Supply Board, that cannot come before the labour court except at the request of the tribunal?
At the request of the tribunal, yes.
At present the machinery regarding the Electricity Supply Board tribunal is that it is a condition of the superannuation scheme that the workers shall undertake that in case of dispute they will refer the dispute to the tribunal before taking any action. In the event of the tribunal failing to adjust the matter, would the workers then have any power to refer the matter to the labour court?
No; the tribunal would have.
It would be very difficult if the tribunal made a decision and then said: "We still do not accept our own decision," and referred it to the labour court.
If you had it the other way, it would, in fact, mean an appeal from that tribunal to the court, would it not? I think that is undesirable. I think the tribunal may decide: "We have given our opinion in this matter and there is still the likelihood of a dispute leading to a stoppage which our award will not settle. Before that happens, we think the court should be given an opportunity of considering it". In other words, if there is to be an appeal from the tribunal to this court, it is the tribunal itself would sanction it, and I think that is the wiser procedure, because that court has functioned well and it is largely because there is a feeling that its decisions are fair and that they are final.
Amendment agreed to.
The Minister said that amendments No. 63 to 66 go together.
Amendments Nos. 63, 65 and 66 are all the same. I move amendment No. 63:—
In page 22, Section 65 (2), line 3, to delete the words "except at the request of the council" and substitute the following:—
(a) the council so requests, or
(b) the court is of opinion that the dispute is likely to lead to a stoppage of work."
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 64:—
In page 22, Section 65, to delete lines 8 to 12, inclusive.
What will happen if the agreement machinery fails?
Does not my amendment meet that? I am proposing that the court will refuse to investigate a dispute: for instance, if the trade union comes to the court and says: "We have an agreement with this employer which provides a method by which such dispute should be determined", the court will say: "We will not intervene in the dispute"; but if the method set out in the agreement is tried and fails to resolve the dispute and the court comes to the conclusion that, despite resort to that method, there is nevertheless going to be a stoppage, then the court can intervene.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 65:—
In page 22, Section 65 (4), to insert at the end of line 12 the following words:—
"unless the court is of opinion that the dispute is likely to lead to a stoppage of work".
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 66:—
In page 22, Section 65 (5), lines 16 and 17, to delete the words "except at the request of any party to the agreement" and substitute the following:—
(a) a party to the agreement so requests, or
(b) the court is of opinion that the dispute is likely to lead to a stoppage of work".
Amendment agreed to.
On behalf of Deputy McGilligan, I move amendment No. 67:—
In page 22, Section 66 (1), line 19, to insert before the word "make" in line 19 the words "set out in summary form the varying claims, demands and contentions of the parties to the dispute, shall make a finding as to the facts concerning the dispute where these are in doubt or in controversy and".
The section would then read:—
"The court, having investigated a trade dispute shall set out in summary form the varying claims, demands and contentions of the parties to the dispute, shall make a finding as to the facts concerning the dispute where these are in doubt or in controversy and make a recommendation setting forth its opinion..."
The object of the amendment is to ensure that, when a dispute occurs, the court will set forth the various claims, demands and contentions and will then find the facts concerning them. I think it is a desirable amendment, as on many occasions it may be useful. There is one that comes to my mind, although under the framework of the Bill it would not actually apply. In the teachers' strike there were various demands and contentions and considerable confusion concerning the claims. In a dispute of that kind, if the demands and claims were put down and at the same time the court found the facts concerning them, that would be informative and would enable other parties, if not the parties to the dispute, to consider the merits of the claims. For that reason, I think it would be an improvement of the section.
I think we should try to remove all elaborations of this section and make it as simple and as plain as possible. It certainly was my purpose, in framing the section, to make it quite clear that in dealing with disputes the court was concerned only with the practical issues and would endeavour to get a commonsense arrangement. That is why we say that, in deciding on its recommendations, a court will have regard
"to the fairness of the said terms to parties concerned, and the prospects of the said terms being acceptable to them."
Disputes arise from all sorts of causes. A foreman may shout at a worker.
The worker and his colleagues may drop their tools and walk out. You cannot set that out in the form suggested here, but action may have to be taken to resolve the dispute. Normally, the trade union will deal with the matter, but if it is still in dispute there may have to be intervention. I think we should not presume to do other than to put on the court these two obligations—the fairness of its award to the parties and the prospect of its award settling the dispute. I would dislike very much any obligation that would go beyond that.
The court will consider the contentions and then decide on the merits. That is all right, from the point of view of the court itself, but persons other than the actual parties to the dispute might like to be in a position to view the findings and contentions. I agree there is nothing to prevent their being published, but the section as it stands says only that the court will give its decision.
The court will give its decision, setting forth its opinion on the merits of the dispute.
But it may not put forth the actual claims or contentions.
It can express an opinion on the merits. I imagine it may say that it was a dispute which should not have happened, that the standard practice was broken and should not have been broken.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendments Nos. 68 and 69 not moved.
I move amendment No. 70:—
In page 22, Section 67 (1) lines 29 and 30, to delete the words "where a trade dispute is referred to the court for investigation" and to insert after the word "investigation", in line 31, the words "of a trade dispute".
This is a drafting amendment, consequential on the changes in sub-section (1) of Section 65.
It is more than a drafting amendment. Amendments Nos. 70 and 71 are hanging together and form a new procedure.
The point is that a dispute now is not referred to the court and, therefore we have to change the wording to read: "The chairman of the court may..."
That means giving the power to the chairman and not to the court.
We are only deleting the words which are no longer appropriate, "where a trade dispute is referred to the court for investigation". It is no longer referred to the court. The court acts on its own initiative.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 71 not moved.
I move amendment No. 72:—
In page 23, Section 70, to delete lines 22 to 27 and substitute the following paragraph:—
(b) an employer party to the dispute who, during the said period, employs or offers to employ a worker under conditions less favourable to the worker than those of the award shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £100.
Section 70 provides that, wherever the court makes an award under Section 69, certain provisions shall have effect. One of them is that:—
"(b) an employer who, during the said period, employs or agrees to employ a worker under conditions inconsistent with those of the award shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding £500."
My amendment is designed to ensure that an employer party to a dispute, who employs or offers to employ a worker under conditions less favourable than those of the award, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £100. It seems to me that, with the prospect that he is liable to a fine of £500 if he employs a person under conditions which are inconsistent with the award, no employer will take the risk of doing so. Suppose, for instance, that a dispute has been investigated under Section 69, and that the court awards a wage of £3 10s. 0d. a week to the employees concerned. If the employer employs a person on terms which are inconsistent with that award—if he employs a person at £3 8s. 0d. or £3 12s. 0d. which, of course, would also be inconsistent with the award—then he runs the risk of being fined £500. Would there be any difficulty in permitting an employer to employ a person on terms not less favourable than the terms of the award? Suppose an employer cannot get people to work for him at the £3 10s. 0d., which the court has awarded, and that he is prepared to fill vacancies on his staff at a wage of £3 15s. 0d. or £4, why should he be prevented from doing so?
The Deputy will appreciate that this section, and this section alone, is designed to give coercive power to the court. It deals with unorganised strikes, with strikes on the part of employees who are not organised in a trade union or who are acting in defiance of the authority of their union—in other words, with unofficial strikes. I considered whether it was desirable to give the court any function at all in relation to these unorganised or unofficial strikes.
I decided that, while there might be theoretical grounds for not having the court interfere in such strikes, there were practical grounds on which it should be able to do something. What is the problem in relation to these unorganised or unofficial strikes? It is that nobody can, in fact, enter into negotiations or make agreements which will be binding upon all the people concerned. If there were such persons it would not be an unorganised strike, and, consequently, there is a necessity for dealing with it in some way. What we are proposing here is that, if such a strike occurs, the court can make an award which will be binding both ways for a period of six months. The period is limited, and during that time it may happen that the difficulties will be adjusted, or that the workers will become organised, or that some other arrangement will be made which will bring them under other provisions of the Bill.
There are two alternatives that could be considered to the putting in of the section. The first is a provision prohibiting an employer paying the workers less; and, secondly, making illegal a strike to enforce more. To make a strike of this kind illegal would be a difficult matter in so far as action against it could not be taken against a union. You would have to take action against individuals, bring them to court and charge them with the offence of carrying on an illegal strike. I was anxious to avoid putting any such provision in the Bill. I, therefore, decided that we should try to get the same result by making it illegal for the employer to pay more or less, or to observe different conditions for that limited period of six months than those which the court had decided. The effect, therefore, is that if it is an illegal strike it will be a useless strike, because the employer cannot pay more. The employer cannot be required to pay more than what the court has awarded—what it regards as a reasonable rate—or observe conditions different from those which the court regards as reasonable.
That power to enable the court to make an order which has a binding effect is limited to this section of the Bill, and to the classes of strikes dealt with here—strikes not promoted by or assisted by a trade union. It might happen that workers in a quarry who are unorganised, not members of any union, will go on strike, or it might happen that a group of workers, against the wishes of their union, will go on strike. The practice of the Department of Industry and Commerce, in the case of unofficial strikes, is not to interfere. We have always endeavoured to get workers back under the authority of their union before participating in negotiations in the case of these unorganised strikes. The difficulty always has been to get an agreement arrived at, because one or two of the individuals whom you could bring to a conference will not be able to commit the others. They may have been elected as their spokesmen, but they really cannot say that what they will agree to will be accepted, nor can they enter into an agreement that will be binding. It is because of that practical difficulty in dealing with strikes of that type that I decided that if the court was to have any function at all in relation to them it must be this coercive function which will operate for a limited period of six months. The original proposal was a year, but I decided later to make it six months. I would have no objection to making the period three months, but there must be some period in order to emphasise that what the court is doing is merely to resolve an immediate difficulty until somebody else can get in and negotiate or arrange for a long term settlement.
Suppose there are half a dozen persons employed by an employer and that they take unofficial strike action, and that, as a result, their case comes under Section 69. The court then makes a recommendation under that section——
There are three lines of action which can be taken by the court if the court thinks it wise to do so. The court does not necessarily have to make a binding award. It can make a recommendation if it so thinks well.
Suppose the court says that in its opinion the strike ought to be settled on certain terms, and suppose the workers retort that they are not going to work on those terms. In that situation, the employer is to be prevented from paying a higher rate of wages than that fixed by the court in order that he may be enabled to get workers.
If the employer wants to pay a higher rate of wages then, presumably, there will be no strike. It is quite conceivable that it might be the other way round—that the employer proposed to reduce wages or to alter conditions of employment, and that it was that situation that caused the strike.
I am taking the case where you say to an employer that he cannot pay a rate of wages which is inconsistent with the award made by the court. You thereby prevent him from doing so. Why should we, in our circumstances, prevent an employer from doing that?
The Deputy must not represent it on that basis. The alternative to putting it that way, if we are to have this section in the Bill at all, is to have some penalty on workers who strike for a higher rate of wages. What I am proposing is to give the court power to make a binding award. It is the only section in the Bill where we are doing that.
Take the case of an employer who, during this period of six months, cannot pay workers a wage which will be inconsistent with the award made by the court. He finds that none of his employees will work for that wage. They tell him that they can get a better job elsewhere. He then goes to the market place to look for other employees. He is prepared to take them at £4 or £3 15s. 0d. a week, but he cannot employ them at that wage because the court award is £3 10s. 0d. Why should he be prevented from paying the higher rates since that is the only way he has of getting people to work for him?
The Deputy is dealing with circumstances that would not arise under the section. If the employer wants to pay more money there will not be any strike.
The strike has taken place and the court award has been made.
No. Remember what will happen is this: A strike occurs, and a conciliation officer comes in. That will, obviously, be the first step. There will be an attempt made to get a settlement by conciliation, and it is only where conciliation has failed that the matter goes to the court. At that stage, the court knows that, on the basis of trying to get the employer to pay more, there is going to be no action. The court will consider whether the mere expression of an opinion will result in the strike being settled. If they come to the conclusion that it will not, they can make a binding award. The Deputy contemplates circumstances in which an employer, having refused an increase, permitted a strike to take place and, rather than grant the increase, insisted on his refusal during conciliation and told the court he would not pay the increase unless compelled to do so—the Deputy contemplates such an employer at some subsequent stage desiring to pay more. That is an unlikely circumstance but, if it arises at all, the amendment of the section I should propose would be that the employer should pay only the rate prescribed by the court during that six months' period unless there was a registered agreement providing for a higher rate, or something of that kind.
I cannot see what reason there is for saying to an employer that, even if he takes on new workers, he cannot pay more than the award made by the court.
Would the Deputy prefer three months to six months?
I prefer my own amendment.
The Deputy's amendment would make the section inoperative. If the effect were to make it work one way only, there would be no assurance that it would end a strike at all.
Would you accept an amendment to give the court power to vary its award?
An employer may go through the process you say and may wait until an award is made in order to convince the workers they should resume work. He may then find that he made a mistake. He would not then be in a position to employ other workers at a higher rate than that set out in the award. His business would be at a standstill.
We shall empower the court, at the court's discretion, to vary its award.
The Minister should consider reducing the period to three months. If the period is six months, there will be a time lag behind the agreement.
I was aiming at a very limited freezing of the situation in the belief that, if we got a cooling-off period, the workers would join the union or somebody would intervene to get a permanent agreement. I am prepared to reduce the period from six months to three months and to enable the court to alter its award during that period.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment No. 73:—
In page 23, Section 70, line 26, to delete the word "five" and substitute the word "one".
This amendment is merely for the sake of uniformity. I think that it is desirable to keep the same fines throughout the Bill.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 74:—
In page 23, Section 72 (2), line 56, to delete the word "organisations" and substitute therefor the words "trade unions".
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 75:—
In page 24, Section 73, to delete sub-section (5), lines 22 to 25.
This amendment is consequential on amendment No. 81. Amendment No. 81 provides more elaborate provision for the publication of particulars and this amendment is, accordingly, required.
Amendment agreed to.
The following drafting amendment was agreed to:—
76. In page 25, Section 75 (1), line 24, to insert at the end of the line the words: "and shall hear all persons appearing to the court to be interested and desiring to be heard". —(Minister for Industry and Commerce.)
Amendment No. 77 was as follows:—
In page 25, lines 30 to 46, Section 75 (1), to delete paragraph (d) and substitute the following paragraph:—
(d) If an employer or a trade union of employers complains to the court that a trade union of workers is promoting or assisting out of its funds in the maintenance of a strike which to the knowledge of the general committee of management of the trade union of workers has for its object the enforcement of a demand on an employer to pay to a worker to whom the orders relate remuneration other than that provided by the Orders the following provisions shall have effect:—
(i) the court shall consider the complaint and shall hear all persons appearing to the court to be interested and desiring to be heard;
(ii) if, after such consideration, the court is satisfied that the complaint is well-founded—
(I) the court may, by order, direct the said trade union of workers to refrain from assisting out of its funds in the maintenance of the said strike;
(II) the court may cancel the recording of the Orders.
I ask leave to amend amendment No. 77, in my name, by altering the first line as follows:—
(d) if an employer to whom the Orders relate or a trade union representative of such employers complains to....
That gives an individual employer a right to complain.
Amendment to amendment agreed to.
Amendment No. 77, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment No. 78 not moved.
I move amendment No. 78a:—
In page 25, Section 75, to insert before sub-section (2) a new sub-section as follows:—
(a) a strike continues after the court has made an order under sub-section (1) of this section in respect of the strike, and
(b) members of a trade union of workers, whose rates of remuneration are not the subject of the strike, are unable or decline to work while the strike continues,
then, the payment to those members of strike benefit in accordance with the rules of the trade union shall not be regarded, for the purpose of this section, as assisting in the maintenance of the strike.
This is inserting in this part of the Bill a principle we have inserted already in another part.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 79:—
In page 25, Section 75 (2), to delete the word "five" in line 53 and substitute the word "one" and to delete the word "fifty" in line 55 and substitute the word "ten".
This is an amendment to alter the penalties under this part of the Bill so as to make them conform to the earlier penalties.
Amendment agreed to.
I move amendment No. 80:—
In page 26, Section 76, to delete paragraphs (e) and (f), lines 9 to 17, and substitute the following paragraphs:—
(e) if the court makes such order, it shall specify in the order the trade unions of workers or bodies representative of workers (in this section referred to as interested parties) who shall be entitled to require the revocation of the order or the cancellation of the recording of the wages (standard rate) Order and the bonus Order in accordance with this section;
(f) if any interested party, within 16 days after the making of the order, notifies the court either—
(i) that it requires the order to be revoked, or
(ii) that it requires the order to be revoked and the recording to be cancelled,
the court shall comply with the requirement.
This amendment corrects an omission in the original clause, making it clear that the only bodies who have a right to accept or reject an order of the court shall be a body representative of workers. Bodies representative of employers will not have that right. Originally, if a trade union or body representative of workers rejected a court order varying the rate of wages, the recording was cancelled automatically. This amendment provides that, even if a court order varying the rates is rejected, the recording of the order will not be cancelled unless the union specified in the order asks to have it cancelled.
Amendment agreed to.
The following amendments were agreed to:—
81. In page 26, before Section 79 to insert a new section as follows:—
(1) When a wages (standard rate) Order and a bonus Order are recorded the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the recording together with such particulars of the Orders as the court considers necessary.
(2) When a wages (standard rate) Order and bonus Order are varied by Order under Section 76 of this Act the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the variation together with such particulars of the variation as the court considers necessary.
(3) When the recording of a wages (standard rate) Order and bonus Order is cancelled the court shall publish in such manner as it thinks fit notice of the cancellation. (Minister for Industry and Commerce.)
82. In page 26, Section 79, lines 42 and 43, to delete the words and brackets: "(including proceedings in a court of law) under this Part" and substitute the words "in a court of law".—(Minister for Industry and Commerce.)
Amendment No. 83, I take it, is not being moved?
I shall raise the point on the final stage or if you will permit me to ask the Minister a few questions now——
If the Minister will agree to answer them, certainly.
I know what the point is.
The point is that in the sub-section we define what a trade union is and then you find that there has been an amendment under the 1941 Act. Then you ascertain what deposit you have got to pay to get a licence and you find that the rate of deposit during the emergency was reduced because of the emergency. I should think that the next six years are likely to be no less stringent than the past six years.
Will the Minister look sympathetically into the question of continuing the provision which entitles him only to require a reduced deposit?
I am entirely in favour of continuing the position for the present because obviously there has been no change in conditions which would justify an alteration. I should say, however, that I am not at all clear as to my legal powers. I did not fully appreciate that the power under the Act was limited to the time that the Emergency Powers Act was in existence. As the House knows, we decided to repeal the Emergency Powers Act and substitute the Supplies and Services Act. That introduces a legal complication. Whether I have power to continue the reduction in deposits is in doubt but I am having the point examined. Personally I would be prepared to introduce legislation to rectify the situation if I have not power, but, again, there is a problem in so far as the Emergency Powers Act will expire in September and the Dáil will not meet until October. I hope, however, that our legal advisers will be able to get us out of the difficulty.
I take it that the Minister is in favour of continuing reduced deposits?
I am in favour of continuing reduced rates for the time being but I have in mind the fact we may have, at some stage, to have discussions concerning the whole of that Act and the possibility of altering its provisions in a more general sense than that. I would have preferred not to have to introduce an amending Bill on a detail of that kind until I had an opportunity of considering a more general measure. As it is an urgent point, however, I am having it examined. It is possible that amending legislation will be necessary in which case I intend to prepare it, but that amending legislation will be temporary pending the general re-consideration to which I have referred.
Bill reported from recommittal with amendments.
Report agreed to.
Question—"That the Bill, as amended, be received for final consideration"—put and agreed to.
Agreed to take the Fifth Stage now.
Question—"That the Bill do now pass"—put and agreed to.