Worker Participation (State Enterprises) Bill, 1976: Committee Stage.

SECTION 1.

There is an amendment in the name of the Minister. This amendment seems to be consequential on amendment No. 18 and amendments Nos. 11, 12 and 19 are related. I suggest, therefore, that we discuss these amendments together. Separate decisions are, of course, necessary.

I move amendment No. 1:

In page 4, between lines 15 and 16, to insert the following definition:

" `polling period' has the meaning assigned to it by section 12 (1) of this Act;".

This is a consequential amendment arising out of a proposed amendment to section 12 (1) making provision for postal voting in the regulations about the conduct of elections to be made pursuant to section 9. This amendment to section 1 comprises the definition of "polling period", referred to in the proposed amendment to section 12 (1), and relating to a period of five day's duration during which postal votes may be cast by those employees in any of the designated bodies for whom voting in person on polling day is not possible.

Amendments Nos. 11 and 12 are consequential ones arising from the proposed amendment to section 12 (1) to enable me to make provision for postal voting in the relative regulations about the conduct of elections pursuant to section 9. In amendment No. 18. in subsection (1) "polling day" refers only to that day on which employees attend in person at polling stations to cast their votes. In the regulations about the conduct of elections, to be made by me pursuant to section 9, the intention is to make provision for postal voting to facilitate employees who might be unable to cast their vote in person—for example, because of sick leave, or shift work, or overseas assignments. In order to be able to include such a provision in the regulations, it is necessary to take power to do so under the Act. Therefore, this amendment brings in a "polling period" of five days' duration, that is, the period during which postal votes may be cast and received by the returning officer.

On Second Stage of the Bill I indicated, in reply to questions on this topic, that I intended to move an amendment in relation to provision of the postal ballot during Committee Stage. On amendment No. 19, the amendment to section 12 (1) in relation to the provision for postal voting was intended to facilitate those employees in any of the designated bodies for whom voting in person on polling day at an election would not be possible. This amendment to section 13 (1) is on similar lines, except that it concerns the day for the taking of the "preliminary poll". As Deputies will recall from our discussion on Second Stage, the preliminary poll is a ballot which may be taken, if requested, before an election for prospective employee directors is held—this is on the basis of 15 per cent representation in the establishment—to decide whether or not a majority of employees favour an election being proceeded with.

As in the case of the amendment moved to section 12 (1), this amendment provides for a period of five days' duration during which employees in any of the designated bodies may cast their vote in the preliminary poll by post.

I indicated on Second Stage that I and my party would favour every facility being made available to the workers in the bodies concerned to ensure it will be possible for them to cast their votes. I referred to CIE drivers and the fact that some people in these bodies may be working overseas. Therefore, I welcome the amendment. I am surprised that this period rather than the polling day was not introduced at an earlier stage. The Minister has gone over the different amendments and there is no reason why we should object to them.

The introduction of the postal ballot may well be necessary in certain cases. Now that we are introducing worker-participation for the first time into a limited number of companies, it is desirable that all facilities should be made available to them so that every person in the companies concerned will have an opportunity of casting a vote. We will be referring to that facility many times on Committee Stage and saying how necessary it is.

This is relevant to the amendments before us. I thought the Bill went a little bit overboard on detailed election regulations being included in the Bill itself. The Minister and the Department could have got from us the power to lay down regulations for elections and possibly vary them. In some of the bodies mentioned the period will be more important than it will be in other bodies. Some of them are more compact and there is less danger of workers being scattered around our country or outside it, and the polling period will not have the same relevance as it would in the case of certain other bodies. This indicates that the necessity for providing every facility to enable the workers to vote with the least inconvenience to themselves was there from the beginning. However, I am glad that a longer period of time is provided now.

As regards the preliminary poll, we have waited so long for the special unit in the Minister's Department to produce this limited measure that it is unlikely we will have to exercise the preliminary poll in any of the companies or in the limited number of companies which the Minister has listed in the Bill. For that reason I think it is going too far to include all the details that are provided for this election. My party and I would be prepared to have more confidence in him personally than he would possibly give us credit for, and we would also have confidence in the returning officer concerned, provided that individual is competent to carry out the poll. Basically, we have no objection to the amendment.

Amendment agreed to.
Question proposed: "That section 1, as amended, stand part of the Bill."

It is going too far to provide for this election the detailed provisions with which every one of us elected Members of this House is so familiar, from the list of electors right down to the polling day. If I may refer to the definitions: " `appropriate number' has the meaning assigned to it by section 23 of this Act". That is something we shall be talking about when we reach that section. The appropriate number gives the Minister certain powers to increase the membership of the board, if board it be, or the number of members appointed to govern the affairs of a particular body referred to. It does not specify what the appropriate number would be, and I think the Minister's time would have been better spent if he was more specific on that matter rather than on the technical details of election which, important though they are, could well be covered by ministerial order and, indeed, operated under the Minister's control by the returning officer concerned.

We shall be referring in greater detail later on to the definition of "collective bargaining negotiations," because we believe that in the qualified bodies involved in collective bargaining, industrial democracy is being denied to certain sections of the workers of those bodies. I do not think it is important what percentage of them is involved. The Minister admitted on Second Stage that 90 per cent of the people we were talking about were members of unions, and I support him in the idea that trade union involvement, goodwill and support for worker participation are very necessary. If industrial democracy is to succeed, it must be available to every individual to exercise to the full and not have any restrictions imposed, for example, by nominating bodies. Therefore, we shall have a great deal to say about collective bargaining negotiations on the appropriate section.

I am not concerned with the "company" but I am concerned with the "designated body" and when we come to the other sections we shall be referring to the limited number included by the Minister. While I cannot understand why very many of the other bodies are omitted, I have selected three where I can see no reason whatsoever for not including them. We are all concerned, both members of the Government and other Deputies, about some of the activities of certain bodies at the present time, and I would like to see worker involvement in them. I know the Minister will be claiming all the kudos for the efforts he has made, but I would like that effort to be wider in scope, and I shall be asking at a later stage of the Bill why specific bodies were omitted.

The Minister is denying certain rights to an employee due to restrictions on designated bodies if the employee concerned is not a member of a union. If a certain group of workers wish to nominate an individual they believe has something to contribute and who wishes to be a director of that company, then he should not be denied that right if a group of sufficient strength is prepared to support him.

We shall be coming back later to the question of the returning officer. The powers given to the returning officer in regard to arrangements for election day, polling day, nomination day and so on, all this detailed information is carried too far in the case of this final decision on certain points with no appeal beyond his decision. If that returning officer did not like the colour or the character of a particular person, there is danger of an unfair decision if the returning officer was ruthless enough to act in that way. I know the Minister will say such people are not given responsible tasks like this. I do not think that is the answer to it. We should not allow the opportunity to be given to any individual to exercise such a final decision.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 2.

I move amendment No. 2:

In page 4, subparagraph (i), line 33, after "Electricity Supply Board," to insert "and Radio Telefís Éireann".

Amendments Nos. 21 and 24 are consequential and may be discussed with Amendment No. 2.

In moving this amendment I am fully conscious of the Minister's remarks on Second Stage and at the introduction of the White Paper in July, 1975. Not one explanation in that document has convinced me that this legislation should not be extended beyond the seven designated bodies. At present there is a motion to set up a committee to investigate the accounts and policies of many of our State companies. This move is welcomed by the administrations in most of these companies. Therefore, I do not know why the Minister has been so selective in limiting this legislation to seven companies. These amendments include a number of companies that have been excluded from the legislation.

I should like to see more companies included, but this appears to be an ideal opportunity for the Minister to involve the State in RTE. During the past few years we have heard a lot about open broadcasting and the introduction of a second channel. This is an important development. We understand that a decision has been taken to introduce a second channel. We are not sure whether the Minister is having second thoughts, but it is important that the quality of our channels be excellent. Nobody in this enterprise can contribute more to the aim of excellence than the people who work within RTE. There are 1,650 people permanently employed by the Authority, with perhaps 100 or 200 more employed on a different basis, and nine board members. It has other advantages in regard to the application of worker participation. One advantage is that the majority of the staff have one location. The Authority is providing a necessary service. Indeed, in most parts of the country people have to rely on the one channel operated by RTE.

In the past there have been many difficulties in regard to industrial relations. Although the limited form of worker participation being introduced is not adequate, I have no doubt that it will contribute to better industrial relations, particularly if it works well and if there is reasonable communication between the directors and the people they represent. There have been a number of industrial problems in RTE but that does not mean that other companies have not had difficulties. It appears that there is a danger of another industrial dispute in RTE which may affect an event of some significance which will take place in your city, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle, during the coming weekend. Perhaps some people might be happy that there would not be widespread coverage of this event and the hierarchy might not like it to happen.

However, what is more important is that RTE are providing a social need for our people. It is the only television channel available to viewers in most areas and it is providing an information and social service and valuable entertainment. In addition, the radio network provides a valuable service. That being so, one can say that it is of a quasi-commercial nature. The Minister said he was anxious to see worker participation implemented in companies with certain criteria. The criteria he mentioned included operations of a commercial or quasi-commercial nature. RTE operates in a quasi-commercial nature involving a medium to high level of technology. Another criterion mentioned by the Minister is the existence of developed trade union-management relations, preferably with some experience in joint consultation structures such as works councils. I see no reason for the exclusion of RTE. The commercial element I referred to means that it has a sizeable income from television licences and from advertising.

The situation in regard to RTE is different from the situation of the other companies and from the seven listed by the Minister. The Government have sole discretion in regard to appointments to the board. There is no point in the Minister saying that the claims of individuals in RTE have been acknowledge. That is not worker participation. We believe that a percentage of the workers should be elected to the board of RTE in order to contribute to the welfare of the station. In recent times there have been vast changes within the organisation. Neither I nor many other politicians have the time to watch many television programmes. However, I hope that any changes that have taken place are for the better, but one must be concerned when such changes take place. The benefits to RTE of inclusion in the list of companies concerned would be enormous. I see very few drawbacks. I know that the Minister will say that a lot of work has gone on over three-and-a-half years to reach the stage of seven State companies being included in this Bill and to enable worker directors to be appointed to the boards. But that is no excuse for others being omitted. If the structure of a company meets the criteria laid down by the Minister, I see no reason why the figure could not be eight, ten or 18. It will make absolutely no difference to the legislation before us. Anything short of the maximum number of companies being included in the Bill is a shortcoming and will only mean haphazard legislation being introduced to add new companies piecemeal later on. The companies which have been excluded are being discriminated against, and their employees are being discriminated against. If the Minister can explain in detail why it was not considered practical, or at least why RTE was not included, I will accept his explanation. The Minister has given no satisfactory explanations to date why certain companies have been excluded. Perhaps the Minister will accept the amendments, and, if so, I will be very happy to accommodate the Minister on other amendments coming up.

It is quite a transformation to find an Opposition speaker speaking so well of RTE. I recall a time when the Authority were sacked. Opposition brings its own wisdom.

When the Deputy suggests the extension of the legislation to other State companies I feel he underestimates the work that still has to be done to make the proposals in this legislation a reality. We selected the seven companies on the basis that the full range of the economic life of the country was represented. Included in the companies selected are air services, production and processing of peat, sugar manufacture, shipping services, food processing, rail and road transport, electricity generation and fertiliser production. Something like 50,000 workers will be affected by these provisions. Our work in this area will not be complete even after this legislation goes through the Houses of the Oireachtas. When the legislation is passed it will be necessary to maintain a close liaison with the new structures in the seven companies to discover what might be learned from the operation of the legislation and to learn, if possible, what changes should be included in the further extension of worker participation in the State area. It would then be our intention to extend progressively by way of further legislation the scope of legislation of this character into other State enterprises.

The companies selected must be manageable, so that we can assess how the programme of worker participation is operating in practice and how it can be improved upon. If we selected too many companies we would be unable to monitor the situation effectively. Basically that is the reason we have limited our legislation to seven companies initially. The companies selected were chosen with certain criteria in mind after a good deal of investigation and contact with both management and unions in the companies. We wished to select companies with a commercial or manufacturing base, so that with the successful operation of the legislation they could suggest how the scheme could with profit be adopted in private industry. We were also anxious to see that there would be some experience of joint consultation and that the companies selected were reasonably compact, with a reasonably defined area of operation, and that they were geographically dispersed around the country.

These decisions were not taken lightly, but after a great deal of investigation. I fear the Deputy misunderstands or underestimates the significant departure that is included in this legislation when he refers to it as a limited legislative effort in this area. It is the first statutory step in this country in this area. Its success in the future will depend on its actual operation. It was only after prolonged negotiations with the unions and management that we decided on the companies mentioned. The crusading nature of this legislation makes it necessary to keep the number small initially. We wish to ensure close and effective monitoring of the operation of the legislation and that can only be successfully done if a small group of enterprises is involved initially. It is my intention to extend the scope of the Act progressively to other State enterprises by way of further legislation, and this extension will be based on our practical experience of the operation of worker participation.

We decided on the seven companies only after the most thorough investigation of the features to which I have already referred. The Bill that we have drafted here—this is a very important point—is geared to the specific requirements of the companies selected, after consultation with the unions concerned with them, after consultation with their managements. This Bill is put forward geared to the seven companies mentioned in it.

Those are the reasons I am unable to accept the amendments proposed by Deputy Fitzgerald. This Bill is not the product of such casual consideration that we can simply add companies at random and say: "Why not this, why not that?" And go down the inventory of State companies. The Bill before us is the product of consultation, consideration of the companies involved and, even more important, consideration of the kind of after-legislative action that will be required to see the principle of worker participation expanded to the benefit of all in the future. For those reasons I would ask Deputy Fitzgerald to reconsider the basis of his amendments.

The Minister was unconvincing in his argument for the exclusion of State enterprises Deputy Fitzgerald proposes including, particularly when he said that there had been protracted negotiations and consultation with the State-sponsored bodies in order to arrive at a selection of those most suited and to which the legislation could be tailored or words to that effect. He did not say if there were consultations with RTE and, if there were, why they were excluded. Why is RTE not suited? It is particularly noticeable by its absence. In the first instance I would imagine it is the one State enterprise most suitable to have some of its workers on the authority. If we attack the authority at any stage, that merely strengthens the argument in favour of having workers on it to ensure that there is the level of harmony so essential to an important State-sponsored enterprise as is RTE.

This is an enterprise quite different from the others and I would say much more suitable to worker participation because they are so directly concerned in the every day working of the media, if we include radio as well as television. They are so directly involved in the operation of the media one would imagine it to be imperative that they have a voice on the authority in order to guide smoothly the preparation and policy of the RTE Authority. I should have imagined they would have been the first to be selected. There are so many suitable people already who could be appointed to take their place on that board because of their intimate association with the working of the enterprise, quite different from that of the others designated. For that reason I cannot, for the life of me, understand why they were not included.

The Minister has given us a lot of generalisation as to why certain State enterprises were designated but he did not attempt to say why others were omitted. In what way did the others not measure up to the criteria being used in relation to selection? In the absence of a better explanation from the Minister we shall have to press this amendment as much as possible. RTE are very much associated with the lives of the people; they have become an important social media. The authority is derived from a number of selected persons appointed by the Minister and the Government. That makes them eminently suitable to have the same system of selection applied as is applied to the other State-sponsored bodies designated in the Bill.

From the Second Reading I do not know whether any section gave the Minister power to add or subtract in relation to designated companies, such as is provided for in the order before the House in relation to the all-party committee being set up to deal with State-sponsored bodies. To bring them within the ambit of examination of the Oireachtas there is provision for the addition or subtraction of companies as may be decided from time to time. I do not think there is any such provision in this Bill.

Taking a look at the number of companies selected, I suppose a case could be made for the inclusion of all of the State-sponsored bodies that have not been designated. It might impede the implementation of the Bill. As I said on Second Stage, I do not regard this as the most important form of worker participation; of all the forms there are, it is the least effective. Perhaps it is the easiest to put into operation. I cannot visualise any State-sponsored body more suitable to have appointments made from amongst their workers than that of RTE. By virtue of their type of work they would be already keenly aware of what their work would involve if they became members of the authority. In some of these companies it is admitted that a certain training will be necessary to prepare members who may be elected to participate at board level. Again, that would be less necessary in the case of RTE than in any of those designated.

For those reasons the Minister has not been convincing in his argument. I should like him to state why RTE were not included, if consultations took place with them, if there were negotiations, as he has said took place with the others, and on what score they were ruled out. Were they considered a hot potato at present and for that reason avoided? If there is one State-sponsored body more than any other where it would be suitable and desirable to have worker participation it is RTE.

The other amendments proposed by Deputy Fitzgerald relate to Irish Shipping Limited and Irish Steel Holdings Limited. The only comment I would make on them is that they seem to be just as suitable as those selected. However, we are dealing at present with the RTE amendment. Before we progress much further I should like to know from the Minister if RTE have expressed a desire to be included. Have consultations been held with them? Have they been ignored? Have they been taken into confidence as were the others in the consultations to which the Minister referred? If they have, why were they considered not suitable for inclusion in the Bill? It would be a simple matter for the Minister to add RTE at this stage. I am sure that on more mature consideration, and in the absence of any good reason why they should not be included, he will agree to the amendment and accept RTE as another State enterprise to be added to the list of designated companies.

(Dublin Central): Like other speakers I would welcome the inclusion of RTE within the terms of the Bill. As Deputy Fitzgerald said, there is a motion being debated in the House about the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee covering semi-State bodies. This motion involves 24 companies and involves something in the region of £1,000 million capital. Those companies are a social and economic asset; they contribute to our economy and their work is of vital importance.

We all know the appalling consequences of strikes. I am not placing the blame on any particular section. In many cases management and workers could not see eye to eye. This Bill is a step forward. The average workers in a company, whether it be a State body or a private company, require more than just an increase in wages year by year. Workers require recognition within a company. They require security and knowledge of what the policy of the company will be in the future. I believe the cash element was not the real cause of disputes over the past few years. It was that workers were not aware of the policies of the companies they worked in or where their future lay, whether the particular company had an expansionist policy, if they would contract and make workers redundant.

The bigger a company is, whether it be State-sponsored or private, the further the board are from the average man on the floor. This is the frustration we have had in the past. This does not happen small private companies because their workers have much closer association with the management and have a reasonable knowledge with regard to the future expansion and policy of the company. The larger the company is, the further away from the management the workers are. Some of the companies the Minister mentioned fit into this particular category. The workers are isolated and they find that many of their grievances do not reach management level. This Bill will contribute in a small way to alleviating the situation which exists. It is important that workers are represented on the board and that they know what the policy of the company is, whether it be a trading company or any other type of company. As far as the worker is concerned it is of no great consequence to him if the company is a trading or a non-trading one.

We all agree that the companies which the Minister has mentioned should be included in this Bill but, as Deputy Fitzgerald pointed out, the inclusion of some of the workers of RTE on the board would be of very great benefit to the workers. This is a highly sensitive area. The policy of RTE and how it will develop is of vital importance. I am sure that policies pursued by the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs a year ago would not be acceptable to many of the employees in RTE today. It would certainly alleviate any of the problems which may exist within that organisation if the workers had their representatives on the board.

What policy is the Deputy referring to?

(Dublin Central): The handing over of the second channel to a British company to run it. The Minister probably is not interested in the policy of that organisation and its development.

The fear of the weekend is his biggest problem.

(Dublin Central): I agree. I fully agree with the amendment by Deputy Fitzgerald that RTE should be included in the Minister's list. The Minister stated that this Bill is particularly drafted to cover the companies he has mentioned and to cover the particular type of industries and business they are engaged in. I do not believe there is any great difference between the functions of some of those companies and those of the RTE Authority. RTE engage in a certain type of commercial duties, such as RTE Rentals, RTE Guide and they collect fees from various licence holders throughout the country. RTE deal in the sale of home made films. That is a commercial transaction and can be included in this Bill. The Bill could cover the activities of the RTE Authority the same as it is doing in relation to the other companies mentioned.

The Minister has not stated specifically that the two companies in the amendment would not be suitable. He mentioned that he would broaden the ambit of the Bill perhaps at some future date. I believe he will not be in a position to add any companies except those catered for in the Bill, because he has stated that it is particularly designed to the type of operations they carry on. If at some future date the Minister considers it necessary to add other companies will he have to bring a new Bill into the House or will he be able to do it by a directive? I was left under the impression after listening to the Minister a few minutes ago that this Bill would not be suitable. I am not sure what section would prohibit other companies from being included. If we find that a new Bill has to be drafted and brought before the House this will slow down the inclusion of any other companies in the future. People in other semi-State bodies will wonder why they are excluded. The Minister may explain technical points in the House with regard to their trading capacity and say that they do not fit within the criteria.

I doubt very much if this will be accepted generally by the majority of the semi-State companies because their employees consider their participation in the companies in which they are working is just as important and vital to the work processes as in any of the companies the Minister has mentioned. They will say: "We are semi-State bodies and we have the same right to be considered". I think the Minister will have to justify their exclusion more fully than he has done so far.

What is the reason behind the Bill? Is it to expand the company or to protect the workers in it? Or is it so designed that both parties can together contribute for the good of the employees and the company? Is it designed so that both the employees and the company can play a vital part to their mutual benefit—the employee guaranteed that his employment will be helped in some way and with the knowledge that there is somebody on the board who is probably concerned about his interests? Those appointed to the board will not alone have to consider the interests of the employees but will also have a vital role to play as regards the expansion and profitability of the company so that the system will have a dual purpose. It must ensure that the voice of the worker is heard on the board and that probably must be one of its primary purposes. Of course workers on the board will also have a very important function as regards management of the company.

If the Bill has a dual purpose it will be very hard to convince other semi-State employees that their interests are not recognised as regards the section dealing with the interests of the employees. They could ask: "Why are our interests not voiced on the board of other semi-State bodies?" I agree there are some semi-State bodies where it may not be practicable to apply this system but I can also see the grievances of such employees as to why they are not represented on the board and why the Minister has excluded them. The Minister will have to explain this very clearly. If I were an employee of a semi-State body not included in the list, the criterion that my company did not qualify because a certain part of it was not a trading company would not satisfy me. State enterprise is the operative term here but when we examine the Bill we find the Minister has deemed only seven State enterprises to be suitable to come under this legislation.

The Minister should accept this reasonable amendment of Deputy Fitzgerald's. A certain amount of knowledge of company management will have to be acquired by those appointed to the board. They will need to know about policy direction and the confidentiality that must be observed. These are matters that anybody elected to these boards must consider seriously. I am sure they will fulfil their obligations. In the case of RTE, a highly technical and sensitive organisation, embracing producers, broadcasters and directors, there is no question of knowledge of the operation. The majority of those who can be selected, apart from the other 1,600, have a thorough knowledge of the technical problems and operation. Indeed, to be employed by the authority one needs to be well versed in the workings of broadcasting and television generally. Getting suitable people to play an important role on the board should present no difficulty in this case. We hope RTE will expand in the very near future when the Minister makes up his mind about the second channel becoming operational. When that time comes let us hope there will be full co-operation, as I am sure there will be, from the staff of the authority and I believe the contribution of the staff will be very helpful at that juncture. It is vitally important that the new channel which I trust will soon be in operation will be accepted throughout the whole country as regards availability and standard of programmes, especially in the single channel areas. Quality and choice of programmes will be of prime importance and the co-operation of the staff within RTE can play a useful role.

We propose when we get back to Government in the very near future to establish programme councils that will be representative of the single channel area so as to help the Authority in regard to the type of programmes that would be most acceptable in single channel areas. I know that the Chair is thinking that what I am saying has little relevance but it is important.

The Deputy seems to anticipate the Chair.

(Dublin Central): We have something like this in mind on the Broadcasting Bill —to establish a programme council representative of various parts of the country and of various views. It would be a continuation of it to have the RTE employees on the Authority. The council would inform the Authority in regard to the type of programmes they believe would be desirable. This would add to efficiency.

Apart from this Bill it was always my view that without proper co-operation from employees in any company or business there is only a bare structure and unless you get 100 per cent co-operation and goodwill you cannot get proper returns. That has been proved by companies that have practised this type of thing before this Bill was introduced. I know a company whose practice is similar, once a year to show the expansion and projection of that company and what the future will be over the next 12 months, to show what the bonuses will be, to show such and such production is reached. That is the involvement that is needed as regards workers in a company if we want to get expansion. This is a step in the right direction but it does not solve all our problems.

Naturally, the involvement of workers and giving them a certain knowledge of the development of a business is always beneficial to that company. When a board or management withhold that type of information and probably hold their meetings away from the business in case they would be seen, when they hand down instructions to the very minimum or reveal the minimum amount of information, very seldom is there proper expansion and 100 per cent co-operation with that company and quite rightly. Anyone working in a business would have that opinion. These factors are important. The more we involve people who can contribute substantially to the whole welfare of the company by strengthening and expanding the company, the more the employees' welfare and future are protected. Their standard of living can normally be increased. If a company is on the decline certain cuts have to be made to make it viable. In that company the lower-paid worker would always suffer first.

The sooner the Minister realises that he will have to expand that Bill the better because all workers in semi-State bodies, whether trading companies or not, will say to the Minister at some future date: "I want my voice heard at board level also". If we have worker participation we should not be too selective about where these workers should participate. The Minister is selective, very selective. I believe we have something in the region of 100 semi-State bodies of various descriptions in this country. I am subject to contradiction on that. I am not saying that certain semi-State bodies——

The Deputy ought not to widen the scope too far on this amendment.

(Dublin Central): Very well, a Leas-Cheann Comhairle. I support Deputy G. Fitzgerald on his amendment because I believe that it will strengthen the RTE Authority. It will certainly give a voice to the workers within RTE. I am not sure what is going to happen next Sunday, whether the Minister is hoping that it will take place or not, but he is the best judge of what should take place in Limerick.

Again, I ask the Minister to consider this amendment seriously. He will find that it will certainly contribute to smoother running within the Authority. He is rather selective at the moment in the semi-State bodies he has included in this Bill. He said the Bill is designed specifically. I confess I cannot see how it is drafted and I do not know whether it would have to be redrafted if the RTE Authority or the other company which will come up here on a different amendment are to be included. The Minister might give us some indication of the difficulties he would find, how he defines this Bill specifically to deal with the seven companies included in it and why it does not bring under the umbrella two companies which Deputy G. Fitzgerald has included in this amendment.

I support the case made by Deputies G. Fitzgerald, Brennan and T.J. Fitzpatrick(Dublin Central) on this matter. I hope that by the end of our deliberations the Minister will have seen the light. I thought his opening remarks flippant and facetious. Now he has had time to think the matter over and, I hope, come to a better decision on it.

Of the concerns mentioned in the Bill few have anything in common beyond the fact that they are trading concerns. RTE, being a communication concern and one whose job it is to hold the mirror up to the national scene and to report at different times on the operations, activities and general existence of other trading companies, should have been the first concern included in this Bill. Most of our industrial unrest arises in the public sector. It is submitted on the Bill that this participation of workers will help to bring about a better atmosphere in our industrial scene generally. Therefore, the Minister is very remiss in not putting RTE in the category of concerns which will be affected by the Bill. One can appreciate that a journalist or programme maker in RTE who has to deal with the concerns mentioned in the Bill may wonder why his concern is excluded. Such workers are no way inferior to the people in the concerns included. They have to prepare for public consumption a report, say, on CIE or Irish Shipping or the Irish Sugar Company. They are being asked to prepare news or programmes on the other concerns wherein the workers participate in management, a privilege which is denied RTE workers. This is not going to make for a happier communications service.

I take it that the Minister has discussed the matter with the RTE Authority and the trade unions, and I ask him if he has had opposition from either side. I doubt if he has had any opposition from either the Authority or the trade unions. Then I ask him for what reason, apart from the fact that this is a non-trading concern, he is not going to include RTE in the scope of this Bill.

I believe, as I am sure the Minister does also, that RTE can have a colossal influence on the whole national scene. If we can point to a better RTE service and say: "Since we included the workers on the management of this concern things have improved, as you can see on your screens", that will be a great advantage. Things may have improved very much in the sugar company but unless the price of sugar comes down the man or woman in the street will not be aware of this. People may see brighter and more attractive sugar packets but beyond that they will not be very much aware of progress. Unless CIE provide better services or reduce fares they will not cause much flurry either. But if in the national broadcasting service we see few industrial disputes and a greater sense of being concerned in the whole national scene, this is brought into thousands of homes each day when people switch on RTE programmes. In my view RTE should be first on the list to be included in this Bill. RTE are different from trading concerns and beg for inclusion in this Bill.

In the world of today communication is vital. Last night on RTE I heard an offer of participation from a Belfast firm. I do not know how deep that went. I listened to a shop steward speaking on this matter and he said he did not know what they meant or how far they would go. My point was that the man came on the media to try to explain the offer of the Belfast firm. It may have been a good or a bad offer for the workers, but it will have to be thrashed out. Then the media will have the job of putting the true position before the public.

I am trying to stress the great need to include RTE in this Bill. They should be the showpiece. The newspapers will give a good account of what happens but they are in the private sector and we are talking about the public sector. Because of the unique position of RTE they should be included in the Bill, and when replying, perhaps the Minister will give a good reason why he has not done this. There could be some compelling reasons we do not know about. The only reason the Minister gave us was that it was a non-trading concern, but that is not enough. I am sure in the future non-trading concerns will be included and the Minister is missing a great opportunity in not including RTE in this worker participation programme.

At some time of the day most people look or listen to RTE. This means that the Minister has thousands of critics on his doorstep who can give him a feedback on the progress made since worker participation was introduced. It can be said that RTE have worked very well up to now but the Minister has added an irritant by excluding that company. If the people in RTE feel aggrieved, I can readily understand their feelings. Like many other Deputies, I was concerned that we should have a good back-up to our newspapers which do a very good job. Television is a newer part of the communications media and is very different from the newspapers. As I said, the Minister is not alone neglecting to make RTE more effective, but he is giving them a new irritant by excluding them from this Bill.

Before the Minister finally makes up his mind I would ask him to listen to the points made by Deputy G. Fitzgerald, Deputy Brennan and Deputy Fitzpatrick, who have spoken sense and have made a good case in a quiet way. I ask him to accept Deputy Fitzgerald's amendment to make this a better Bill.

I, too, wish to support this amendment. The Minister must give the House cogent and acceptable reasons why this amendment is not acceptable to him. What is wrong with it? He has not given any good reason why workers should not form one-third of the board of RTE. Who is denying the employees the opportunity to participate on the board of their company? Was it the wish of the Taoiseach, the appropriate Minister in this case, that RTE be excluded? Was there ministerial participation in considering that worker participation be extended to RTE? Who is saying no? Does the Minister not accept that the experience of employees gleaned from operating and functioning within RTE, combined with their own talents and expertise, would be of benefit to the management of RTE? Could he not see that from worker participation on the board we would have a spirit of involvement within this company, a company so bound up with all aspects of Irish life? Nowadays people are very dependent on the media, particularly this branch of the media. Surely if a better spirit of involvement by employees can be built up, the opportunity should be grasped. The Minister should grasp that opportunity now by accepting this amendment. That better spirit would filter right through every section of our community. It would build up a sense of belonging, a sense of involvement and a sense of contribution, all of which would be reflected in output, output which touches every home in the country.

I cannot understand why the Minister will not accept this amendment. Is it the specific wish of the Taoiseach that RTE be excluded? When the Minister comes to reply I hope he will take cognisance of the case argued on this side of the House and realise that it is not too late to accept this amendment. Why should the board of RTE not have on it one-third membership constituted of its employees? Why is that the right thing in the case of Bord na Móna, CIE and the ESB? Why must RTE employees be excluded? Why is RTE singled out? Did the appropriate Minister—in this case the Taoiseach— have any views to offer? I hope the Minister will answer these questions. More important, I hope he will be able to show to the employees of RTE why they are not acceptable. That is the most important point. The employees have a right to know why they are being excluded. They are the people who operate and participate in the day-to-day running of RTE. I would ask the Minister to have another look at this and to accept our amendment.

I feel strongly about this because it seems to me very unfair that RTE employees should be excluded. RTE is a State-sponsored body. It is very suspicious that the employees of RTE should be prevented from taking part in the overall running of RTE. I have always advocated worker participation and I see no reason why there should not be worker participation in this very important media. What is the reason for the exclusion? I have always preached worker participation. I support this amendment very, very strongly indeed.

I mentioned earlier the criteria used in the selection of the seven companies involved to give a net coverage of 50,000 workers. We set out the criteria on which these companies were selected. If it were merely a matter of casually selecting companies and saying the legislation would apply to them one could go right across the board and select companies over the whole range of State-sponsored bodies. It was only after the most careful consideration and full consultation with the unions involved that these companies were chosen. We had in mind the manufacturing base and, if and when the legislation proved successful in practice, it would be possible then for interested employers to ask for an extension of worker participation to them and it would be open to such employers to adopt procedures which had proved successful in the seven selected companies. It is important that we should have only a certain number of companies initially so that we can study what happens and learn from the procedures in operation. All authorities are agreed that where worker participation is concerned for the first time it is best to select a small number of companies in a given area so that the future foundation can be secured in the light of experience.

Deputy Fitzpatrick raised the question of extending the provisions of this Bill to other State companies. In significant legislation like this we must proceed with caution. One way in which other State companies can be brought in is by way of amending legislation. One Deputy argued that the reason this should be extended to RTE was to prevent a recurrence of what had happened when he was a Minister in a Government which scrapped the entire Authority. He argued that worker participation in RTE would prevent such an occurence in future. I do not believe participation would solve the problems of the bad past relations that existed and I do not think worker participation would settle that kind of friction between the workers and the Authority. The Bill before us is specifically geared to the conditions existing in the selected companies after consultation with the unions and the managements concerned. I cannot accept the amendment.

I asked a straight question: why, in the Minister's opinion, should RTE not be included?

There are many other companies excluded and there are a number of reasons why the companies which have been selected are included, based on criteria such as a manufacturing base and on the idea that worker participation proposals could be more easily adopted, if there is a willingness to adopt them, in the private sector. The companies selected have 50,000 workers involved and there is, therefore, a better working spread.

Is that not a very negative attitude? Can the Minister tell us honestly why RTE were not included? He gave us a number of reasons why these seven companies have been included but that is a negative reply to our question.

I sympatise with the Minister who has tried to make the best of a hopeless case. He has not given us an acceptable reason why RTE and others have not been included and his excuses indicate that he is not himself convinced or alternatively that he has not briefed himself as to why the scope of the Bill is so narrow. In reply to a question by Deputy Callanan he said he was particularly interested in companies with a manufacturing base. May I ask him where is the manufacturing base in Aer Lingus, in CIE or in the B&I? Surely they are service companies. So are RTE.

I do not want to underestimate the Minister's problem in preparing this legislation, although the Minister said I had done so. I accept that service industries are vitally important to us, as important as our companies with a manufacturing base. I submit that the success of our service industries is vital to the economy and I do not follow the Minister's reasoning as to why they should have been excluded. I have said the Minister is making a gross mistake when he says the Bill was specifically prepared for the seven companies included. He is completely at sea because it would be impossible specifically to design legislation that would suit B&I and that would not suit, for instance, Bord na Móna, NET or Aer Lingus.

Deputy Fitzpatrick asked if the Bill could be extended to cover other companies at a later stage. The truth is, of course, that it will not be so extended in the lifetime of this Dáil, either in the scope of the legislation or the introduction of new companies. Deputy Fitzpatrick also spoke of the importance of worker participation. I would point out to the Minister that there are companies successfully operating worker participation and have been doing so for a number of years.

The Minister's argument about the sacking of the RTE Authority some time in the distant past has absolutely no relevance to the situation. The fact that one-third of the members of that Authority may be elected by the workers to the board is itself a very substantial advance by a company providing a service and contributing to the success of other service industries in the television and radio business throughout the country. The Minister said about 50,000 people were involved in the seven companies. The figure is probably slightly more and I would put it at about 52,000 people. The number involved in RTE is somewhere between 1,600 and 1,800.

The Minister said also that the companies should be geographically dispersed. I am not quite sure what he means by this because while RTE have their main operation in Dublin they also have operations throughout the country, Radio Na Galetachta being one of them. Recent indications are that there could be a danger that the best men are not being appointed to Radio Na Gaeltachta.

That is irrelevant at present.

B'fhéidir nach bhfuil, ach tá sé an-thábhachtach do na daoine sa Ghaeltacht. If I did digress, I am sorry. I do not agree it is irrelevant. I believe that it the board should represent the workers and I have already pointed out other advantages which I see in this. The Minister has advanced absolutely no reason why RTE have not been included. There are many other bodies which could be included, but there could be difficulties because of the type of operation they carry out and the type of service they operate. On this side of the House, we have been very responsible in suggesting the addition of only three more bodies which we believe could be included with little or no change in the proposed legislation.

I would ask the Minister to tell us if there is anything in the legislation that would prevent or hinder the introduction of worker participation in RTE. He did say that this legislation was specifically designed for the seven companies selected. That statement does not stand up and I would ask the Minister to accept RTE at this stage.

Amendment put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 62.

Tá.

  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Brugha, Ruairí.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Leonard, James.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Murphy, Ciarán.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Wyse, Pearse.

Níl.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dockrell, Maurice.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, John G.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Patrick.
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Kenny, Henry.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Staunton, Myles
  • Taylor, Frank.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Toal, Brendan.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Lalor and Browne; Nil, Deputies Kelly and B. Desmond.
Amendment declared lost.

I observe that amendments Nos. 3 and 4 are consequential on amendment No. 25. Therefore, I suggest that we take Nos. 3, 4 and 25 together.

Would you not consider it more appropriate, Sir, to take Nos. 3 and 4 separately?

If the Deputy has a strong desire that they be taken separately, they shall be dealt with in that way. We will take No. 3 separately but No. 4 is consequential on it.

The amendments are separate. They deal with separate companies.

I understood that we were taking Nos. 3, 4 and 25 together since they all involve the same subject matter.

I submit that Nos. 3 and 4 are totally separate and deserve to be taken separately: No. 4 is not consequential on No. 3 although No. 25 may be consequential on both.

In No. 3 we are seeking the addition of Irish Steel Holdings Limited while No. 4 seeks the addition of Irish Shipping Limited and in No. 25 we are asking for the Irish Shipping Company Limited and for Irish Steel Holdings Limited. In other words we are continuing the same debate as we had on the previous amendment. Perhaps the Deputy will say that there are some special reasons why these should be included but I cannot see any reason for continuing the same argument that we have been having since 3.30 p.m. in respect of RTE. I should ask the Deputy to look at the reality of what he is proposing and to stop wasting the time of the House.

We hear now from the flippant Minister for Labour that I am wasting the time of the House.

Let us clear this matter of how we are to deal with the amendments.

I shall be kind to the Minister and to his performance in office by remaining silent but I reserve my right to move on two separate amendments. I am not prepared to listen to the type of dictatorship that would encourage the Minister to push through a measly and ill-prepared Bill.

A few moments ago the Deputy was praising the Bill.

Order. I suggest that we take amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 25 together. However, if the Deputy has a strong desire to have No. 3 taken separately I shall agree, but I would advise him that there can be no repetition on Nos. 4 or 25.

If it accommodates the Chair, I am prepared to have Nos. 3, 4 and 25 taken together.

Amendments Nos. 3, 4 and 25 may be taken together.

I move amendment No. 3:

In page 4, subparagraph (iii), line 36, after "Nítrigin Éireann Teoranta" to insert "and Irish Steel Holdings Limited".

You will always find me co-operative, a Cheann Comhairle, despite any sinister, childish or imbecilic allegations that may come from the other side of the House. This amendment refers to Irish Steel Holdings. On the previous amendment the Minister failed to tell us why RTE were not included. In an effort to camouflage the type of performance we have had from him in the House he has resorted to those tactics that have been typical of him since his assuming office— inferring that nobody but he is capable of offering an opinion. His short experience has been mainly of a theoretical nature. It is lacking in practical experience. In this legislation there are so many shortcomings that in the not too distant future it will be necessary for the Minister's successor—somebody from this side of the House—to mend the fences that the Minister has built so badly.

If ever a case could be made for including a firm in this legislation, it could be made in respect of Irish Steel Holdings. I say this for many different reasons. The first is—here I am using the Minister's criteria— that that company are a commercial operation. Apart from that there is involved a high level of technology in the production of steel. The company have well-developed trade union-management relations. They have, too, the works council concept. When we add to these the management base we find the ideal manufacturing base. I am not sure what the Minister means when he uses the phrase "geographically dispersed". If he means that the headquarters of a company could be situated in a place other than Dublin, that would mean that the company were dispersed geographically.

There is another very important reason. The strength of the work force of the steel works has been inconsistent over the past three or four years. It peaked at approximately 1,130 workers in 1974 and then dropped to the present figure of just in excess of 750. For some time there was considerable disquiet in the work force about the future. Rumours were rife. This was no help to the workers. What better way could the circulation of those rumours be stopped than by the employees having a voice on the board, having representation on the board? This would be a very simple operation in comparison with CIE with a huge number of workers, almost 18,000, scattered throughout the country in many different locations.

An indication was given by the Minister to a deputation that he would favourably consider their request provided his colleague was agreeable. This request has not been considered.

Which colleague is the Deputy talking about?

I assume it is the colleague who is responsible for the industry, the Minister for Industry and Commerce. There is an unanswerable case as to why Irish Steel should be included. The arguments used by the Minister could not change my mind in relation to RTE unless he comes up with some newer and more convincing ones. The operations of Irish Shipping are compact and vitally important with approximately 700 workers, the majority based in Dublin. They are represented mainly by two unions so it would be an easy operation. Both firms would come well within the guidelines laid down in the Bill.

I suggest the Minister should accept these amendments. It is obvious that, in the life of this Dáil, we will not have an amending piece of legislation to include those two companies. About two years ago we had a motion in this House condemning Irish Shipping because of their purchase of ships abroad when we had the facilities here to have those ships produced by Irish workers. At that time we were told it was a decision by the board. If it was a decision by the board, surely this is an ideal chance to give workers the type of participation on the board of that company which they believe they have a right to have and which we know from past experience could only benefit the company and the nation's economy.

When the Minister's arguments are not convincing, he alleges as usual that somebody is wasting the time of the House. The Minister would be happy if Bills were passed and presented to him as he circulated them. He will not have it that way. If we see something worth while in legislation we will always support it. If we see omissions in legislation we will endeavour to fill them. If we see a need for improvement in legislation we will seek to improve it. I appeal to the Minister even at this stage to accept the two companies in which it would be numerically easy to operate the machinery to involve worker participation. This would be beneficial to the future of both companies in many ways.

I support this amendment, which the Minister could accept without losing face in any way. We pointed out why a special case could be made for the inclusion of RTE. Due to past history, worker participation might have a salutary effect on the running and policy of these two companies, particularly Irish Steel Holdings. Had there been worker participation on the board in the past, some of the orders placed outside the country might not have gone there. It would be a tremendous help to the company if the workers were in a position to know the difficulties experienced from time to time in remaining viable. Many difficulties are involved. Steel foundry work is not indigenous to this country, to say the least of it. These operations were imported and it was a rather big venture to set up the company. They have had difficult periods but, to their credit be it said, they struggled along successfully. They encountered many difficulties as one can imagine and, if they were known to the workers, no doubt greater co-operation would have been forthcoming.

If there is any virtue in having worker participation on the board it stems from the fact that they would have an opportunity to look behind the scenes and see what was happening, to see the marketing difficulties and the difficulties when raw materials become unobtainable. If they realised the many vicissitudes the company experienced in their lifetime, matters would have been made easier. Therefore, it is rational and logical that we should ask to have that company added to the number of designated companies.

The Minister may have a case in saying he could not take on any more companies, but one fails to see why it would not be as easy to get ten companies moving under this legislation as seven. I do not think it would pose any great difficulties. I imagine there is some reason why this company are not included. The Minister may give us some particulars on that as time goes on. In a company meeting with difficulties other firms would not ordinarily meet with, due to the precarious position in relation to raw materials, it is all important that the workers should be familiar with those difficulties. In that way a better measure of co-operation and harmony would exist in industrial relations. This is a very sensible amendment and I hope the Minister will accept it.

I support the amendment. I am not at all satisfied with the reasons the Minister gave us as to why RTE are not included. He did not give a solid reason, and I do not know what reason he can give in the case of the two companies referred to here. I support this Bill because over the years I have believed in worker participation. I also believe, as Deputy Brennan says, that it would be an advantage to any company running into trouble to have worker participation and to have a third of the members of the board workers. I have confidence in the workers; if they thought that a company was not going well they would respond wholeheartedly to save that company. That is why it is vitally important that they should be on the board of all State companies. As regards Irish Shipping, I remember when we had debates here on the purchase of ships abroad, and I am convinced that if workers were on the board at that time we would not have had the situation which occurred then.

While I support this Bill I am worried that the Minister is doing some window dressing, giving the impression that a big Bill providing for worker participation in Irish industry is going through the House, while there are only a few companies included. I would ask the Minister in all sincerity to include these two companies, because this would be going some of the way towards what we desire. No answer can be given to the reasons put forward on this side of the House as to why they should be included. On the last amendment the Minister went back on old history. Let him tell us why a company, X or Y, is not being included. Let him not tell us what somebody said four or five years ago. I am here only a few years and I am fed up listening to that. If the Minister can put up a good reason why a company should not be included, I will be the first to say all right. However, he made no attempt in the last amendment to convince us why RTE should not be included. I support the amendment in the name of Deputy Fitzgerald.

I just want to speak in support of the inclusion of these two companies, Irish Steel Holdings, and Irish Shipping Limited, for worker participation. They have their own particular prestige. In the case of Irish Steel Holdings, not only is it a question of prestige but the industry itself is extremely important, so important that economists at times look at the production of steel to indicate how the economy of a country is going, how many people are employed and how much steel is being produced. Seeing that is regarded by some economists as an economic indicator and as the basic industry in any economy, it is obvious that it should be among the first of the companies to have worker participation.

Irish Shipping is also an important service. It carries its own ramifications in the international trading world. It has the same type of prestige and therefore workers should be included in the board. I remember the late Seán Lemass referring to one particular worker, who was originally a barman in this city and who was a director of Irish Shipping, the late Wally Beirne, and saying that he was the best director Irish Shipping had at that time. There is no reason to believe that there are not others of that calibre who could make a contribution in the case of both companies mentioned in the amendment.

I would support this amendment. Deputy Fitzgerald analysed the Minister's criteria in regard to the seven companies which are included in the Bill, and it became very clear that, judged by the Minister's guidelines, Irish Steel Holdings and Irish Shipping should also be included. Would it be that the Minister for Labour did suggest to one of these companies that he would look favourably on their case to be included in this Bill? If that is so, does that mean that the Minister for Industry and Commerce, in the case of Irish Steel Holdings, did not share the Minister's view? Was the Minister for Transport and Power asked for observations regarding the inclusion or the exclusion of Irish Shipping Limited? Have we a real case in point of lack of participation among the Ministers in this Cabinet? Is there conflict? Unless the Minister can explain to this House why these two companies are not to be included, we must assume there is lack of participation and agreement between Ministers. Therefore I hope the Minister will give us the reasons he cannot accept the inclusion of Irish Steel Holdings and Irish Shipping.

I am anxious that Irish Steel Holdings might come into the scheme of worker participation at the earliest date possible. I would return to the problems I have already outlined in relation to the choosing of the seven companies for which this legislation is designed in the first place. I have indicated what the reasons were that went into the selection of the companies concerned. It is true I met a delegation from Irish Steel Holdings on another matter some months ago, and I think I indicated to that deputation my desire to see Irish Steel Holdings included in the legislation as soon as possible.

Deputies could cite here reasons why this company or that company should be chosen, but I would return to the theme—I am sorry that Deputies remain unconvinced by it—that it was only after the most careful and painstaking preparation by a special section in my Department which was established to do nothing else except consider the whole area of worker participation, what was done in other countries, what seemed to be the best procedure for this country, that this legislation was produced.

That was not the end of examination and preparation. We then had the fullest consultations with managements and unions. As the House knows, our proposals remained dormant for almost a year before agreement was reached with the unions. Legislation produced in relation to labour has to have more attention than that given under the heading of draftsmanship. It has to be the product of as near agreement as possible with both unions and management in the area for which the legislation is intended, otherwise the legislation will suffer the initial disadvantage of lack of support and enthusiasm for its provisions and, therefore, the possibility of its failure. That is why Deputies must understand that legislation emanating from the Department of Labour must, in so far as it is possible, be the product of joint agreement by unions and management.

This legislation is a product of such consultation. When certain Deputies airily suggest the inclusion of other companies, I would suggest with all humility that the legislation before us is far from being the product of hasty improvisation and is, if anything, the product of excessive preparation. It is in this guise that I have recommended its passage through the House. The companies listed were selected for reasons of suitability, union/management relations and the possibilities for the extension of the idea into other areas of industry. I would be the first to admit that, using other criteria, one could suggest the advisability of other companies being added to the list. My reply to that argument is that there has to be a cut-off point if we are to be successful in the equally important work of examining the result of this legislation after it has passed through the House.

In the preparatory stages of this legislation the unit I have established will continue in being and will remain in contact with both unions and managements in the selected companies. If the provisions of this Bill are succesful in practice, we can rapidly consider the extension of these ideas to some of the companies mentioned by Deputies. I am not opposed to the inclusion of the companies but there are limits to the number of companies we can include at this stage. If we are serious about the extension of the principle to both private and State industries, then this early period must be carefully reviewed. The possibilities of success are enhanced by selecting a limited number of companies at this time, companies not limited by the number of workers involved. By no stretch of the imagination can the idea of worker participation being applied to more than 50,000 employees throughout Irish industry be dismissed as of no account. It is an important first statutory step and the reason for limiting the range of its application is to ensure that in the shorter term more companies can be included with greater advantages to the employees concerned by incorporating some of the things we may have learned from this legislation. It is on these well-considered grounds that I cannot accept the amendment.

I am disappointed that the Minister has not seen his way to including in this legislation one or both of the industries referred to in the amendment. In addition to the commercial operations of the industries, they have a particular entitlement when one considers their tremendous links with the not-so-bright periods of our economy. The point made by Deputy Wilson is significant: that Irish Steel have often been used as a barometer in relation to our economy. Irish Steel were set up as a private enterprise in 1937. When it failed as a private enterprise the State took over in the good days when we had people like Seán Lemass who were interested in industrial development. Its major expansions to date were done under Fianna Fáil Governments. However, that is not important and is probably cheap political point-scoring, which is not in the interests of the workers who are entitled to be considered in the same way as the workers in the seven companies referred to.

The Minister pointed out the problems in regard to the selection of the type of worker participation that was found to be best suited to our needs and that the unit looked at many systems in European countries. As that is the function of the unit, it is understandable that they should do so. There was probably disagreement within the unit in regard to the type of worker participation best suited to our needs, because there will always be disagreement as to which type is most suitable for us.

I have already expressed criticism of the limited scale that will apply in regard to education and so on. I can appreciate the amount of time spent in the selection of procedure, but the more the Minister tried to make the point of the number of employees involved in the seven companies, the more I concluded that it was a greater window-dressing operation than I had first believed it to be. The Minister said that one of the qualifications was a high number of employees and that the unit were instructed accordingly. The Minister's argument has not convinced me. I believe it would be a simple operation to include the two companies listed in the amendment. Irish Steel have 753 employees and one location. Irish Shipping have 700 employees, are involved with two unions and have one base.

I am disappointed that the Minister will not accept the amendments. I believe it will be a long time before legislation is introduced to cater for the two companies that have been excluded.

I would be happier in regard to the omissions from the list of designated firms if the Minister had said that they were selected at random for the sake of expediency. The Minister said that the matter was given careful consideration. One can only conclude that that consideration eliminated, for some reason or another, certain firms. This makes it difficult for us to understand. I take it that the Minister's reference to it being on trial and that it would be monitored and reviewed would indicate that it is by way of being a pilot scheme in relation to these seven companies. Why after careful negotiations with management and trade unions is it finally decided that these companies which are more important than some of those included will be omitted? The Minister does not make any provision in the Bill for adding or taking from the list so that new legislation is necessary to bring in other companies.

Under section 3 the Minister need not have the appointed day fixed in respect of all the companies together so that by taking in Irish Steel Holdings and Irish Shipping the Minister could have the appointed day put back for a year or six months if it were considered that there were too many to be dealt with together. This would obviate the necessity for bringing in legislation. For that reason the Minister's argument in defence of not bringing in these companies does not make any sense. It would make sense if the Minister had said that these companies were selected in order to have a number to get the scheme started but the Minister emphasised that they were selected only after thorough investigation over a long period. Therefore, we must conclude that there were definite reasons why these firms were not included. The Minister has not given us the reasons why Irish Steel Holdings was not included but said that he would like to see them included at the earliest possible time. One way to do that is to put it into the initial legislation and have the appointed day deferred if it was not possible to handle a lot of them. That would be a simple way to get over that difficulty.

Question put.
The Committee divided: Tá, 52; Níl, 62.

Tá.

  • Barry, Peter.
  • Barry, Richard.
  • Begley, Michael.
  • Belton, Luke.
  • Belton, Paddy.
  • Bermingham, Joseph.
  • Bruton, John.
  • Burke, Joan T.
  • Burke, Liam.
  • Byrne, Hugh.
  • Clinton, Mark A.
  • Cluskey, Frank.
  • Collins, Edward.
  • Dunne, Thomas.
  • Enright, Thomas.
  • Esmonde, John G.
  • Finn, Martin.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Cavan).
  • Flanagan, Oliver J.
  • Gilhawley, Eugene.
  • Governey, Desmond.
  • Griffin, Brendan.
  • Halligan, Brendan.
  • Harte, Patrick D.
  • Hegarty, Patrick.
  • Hogan O'Higgins, Brigid.
  • Jones, Denis F.
  • Kelly, John.
  • Kenny, Enda.
  • Kyne, Thomas A.
  • L'Estrange, Gerald.
  • Conlan, John F.
  • Coogan, Fintan.
  • Cooney, Patrick M.
  • Corish, Brendan.
  • Cosgrave, Liam.
  • Costello, Declan.
  • Coughlan, Stephen.
  • Crotty, Kieran.
  • Cruise-O'Brien, Conor.
  • Desmond, Barry.
  • Desmond, Eileen.
  • Dockrell, Maurice.
  • Donnellan, John.
  • Lynch, Gerard.
  • McMahon, Larry.
  • Malone, Patrick.
  • Murphy, Michael P.
  • O'Brien, Fergus.
  • O'Connell, John.
  • O'Donnell, Tom.
  • O'Leary, Michael.
  • O'Sullivan, John L.
  • Pattison, Séamus.
  • Ryan, John J.
  • Ryan, Richie.
  • Staunton, Myles.
  • Taylor, Frank.
  • Timmins, Godfrey.
  • Toal, Brendan.
  • Tully, James.
  • White, James.

Níl.

  • Andrews, David.
  • Barrett, Sylvester.
  • Brady, Philip A.
  • Brennan, Joseph.
  • Breslin, Cormac.
  • Briscoe, Ben.
  • Brosnan, Seán.
  • Browne, Seán.
  • Brugha, Ruairí.
  • Burke, Raphael P.
  • Callanan, John.
  • Carter, Frank.
  • Colley, George.
  • Collins, Gerard.
  • Connolly, Gerard.
  • Crinion, Brendan.
  • Cronin, Jerry.
  • Daly, Brendan.
  • Davern, Noel.
  • de Valera, Vivion.
  • Dowling, Joe.
  • Fahey, Jackie.
  • Farrell, Joseph.
  • Faulkner, Pádraig.
  • Fitzgerald, Gene.
  • Fitzpatrick, Tom (Dublin Central).
  • Flanagan, Seán.
  • French, Seán.
  • Gogan, Richard P.
  • Healy, Augustine A.
  • Hussey, Thomas.
  • Kitt, Michael P.
  • Lalor, Patrick J.
  • Leonard, James.
  • Lynch, Celia.
  • McEllistrim, Thomas.
  • MacSharry, Ray.
  • Meaney, Tom.
  • Molloy, Robert.
  • Moore, Seán.
  • Murphy, Ciarán.
  • Noonan, Michael.
  • O'Kennedy, Michael.
  • O'Leary, John.
  • O'Malley, Desmond.
  • Power, Patrick.
  • Smith, Patrick.
  • Timmons, Eugene.
  • Tunney, Jim.
  • Walsh, Seán.
  • Wilson, John P.
  • Wyse, Pearse.
Tellers: Tá, Deputies Lalor and S. Browne; Níl, Deputies J. Kelly and B. Desmond.
Amendment declared lost.

Amendment No. 4 in the name of Deputy G. Fitzgerald. This amendment has been debated with amendment No. 3. How stands the amendment? May I put the amendment?

Amendment put and declared lost.
Question proposed: "That section 2 stand part of the Bill."

Obviously, we have failed to extend the number of designated bodies under the Bill. I agree, with reservations of course, that section 2 stand part of the Bill, expressing regret that the number of bodies is so small and does not include those suggested by me.

Does the Minister intend to bring in all the other State enterprises ultimately through legislation or is the selection of these seven other designated companies just a trial by way of a pilot scheme?

Yes, it is my intention to extend this progressively throughout the entire commercial State sector. Obviously, we will be guided, in the rapidity of that extension throughout the State industry sector, by its success in the named seven companies. It would be my intention to proceed as rapidly as possible by extending legislation into the rest of the State sector.

How long does the Minister intend giving it a trial once it becomes operative in those companies?

We shall have to see how it works, how rapidly we can get election days named, how rapidly next year we can get this programme implemented, setting up the arrangements.

That was not the question.

I was genuinely inquiring if it was the Minister's intention to bring in the others. I thought that if the Minister was definite in doing that he would make provision now obviating the necessity for legislation later on either by having a section in the Bill which would enable him to make additions or by having all of the State-sponsored bodies included now and have the day appointed if he found it possible to do so.

When we are considering what other bodies should come into those worker participation proposals, I would prefer that we should come to the House with the extra bodies named with fresh primary legislation so that Deputies on all sides could consider it. There might also be involved in the extension to those other bodies changes based on our experience of the working of the provisions of this Bill.

Do I take it that the implementation will take quite some time and to give it an opportunity of working it will take at least one year from the date it becomes operative? If to follow the Minister's line of argument that it is a pilot scheme then from the time it becomes operative, the election has been held and the appointments made and until an adequate amount of experience is gained by the people looking at it it will be a further year away from that election day.

I do not rule out the idea that we may be in a position to add other companies next year.

If the Minister does not rule that out, why not adopt Deputy Brennan's suggestion?

That depends on the experience of its implementation.

We are talking about a trial period which cannot take place before implementation.

The possibility is that we will have to wait for some period to see this in actual operation. That will still not rule out the possibility of an addition being made, of companies being added. It will all depend on the speed of implementation, what we learn and how rapidly we learn it.

Is the Minister talking about learning from the system of election or is he talking about learning from the experience in the participation?

I am talking about experience of the system of election and experience of it in practice. Nobody can say after what period but, in general, it can be said that we have got to see it in operation before we can start moves for other additions.

Can we take it that it will be some considerable time before there will be additions?

This is a debating point and an important one which the Deputy raises. It is a blend of experience of it in operation and the speed of implementation.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 3.
Question proposed: "That section 3 stand part of the Bill."

This section has to be considered in conjunction with section 6. This section empowers me to prescribe by order appointed days for the purpose of determining election years prescribed under section 6. Under section 6 elections must be held in the year during which the appointed day occurs and then every three years thereafter.

This is a fairly simple section. Is it the Minister's wish that if it were otherwise practical as many as possible of these elections will have the same appointed day for the different companies? It would be desirable, if it did not impose too many difficulties on their organisation, that they be held on the same day. I expect we will have a different returning officer operating in each election and obviously with him different staff so I see no reason why as many as possible of those elections cannot be held on the same day. The nomination should be the same appointed day and procedures should work in a uniform way so that people would begin to realise that a certain day is set aside in a particular year for the election of worker directors and nominations.

That would be the idea but I am sure the Deputy appreciates the great quantity of work which has to be encompassed before we get to the actual implementation point in each of the companies selected. The regulations on elections and so on will have to be discussed in individual unions in individual companies. All that work has to be transacted yet. The Deputy mentioned a date for all companies. I would like to see that happening if it can be done but, in practice, it may not be possible.

How soon does the Minister hope to have the appointed day fixed?

As I said, we have a good deal of discussion to go through yet with unions. I hope in the early months of next year.

We had important legislation some time ago, the Social Welfare (Supplementary Benefits), Bill and the appointed day has not come yet.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 4.

I move amendment No. 5:

In page 5, subsection (3), line 10, to delete "amending" and substitute "annulling".

Section 4 is the section containing the general enabling powers whereby I make regulations or orders to give effect to provisions contained in certain sections of the Act. I will explain to the House the basis for amendment No. 5. It relates to section 4 (3) which contains the standard text of a standard provision in regard to regulations. However, through an oversight, an error occurs in the text of this provision in line 10 which states:

if a resolution amending the regulation is passed by either such House within the next twenty-one days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly....

It is clear that there is a misprint in line 10 and "amending" should read "annulling", taken in the context of line 13, where it refers to anulled.

I am satisfied if this is the normal wording of this. Does it mean that an order laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas can only be annulled and cannot be amended?

Yes, on the reading of this section.

Is that the normal procedure?

That is the regulation. It is found in the Holidays (Employees) Act, 1973. We are correcting it to make it accord with the standard.

Amendment agreed to.
Section 4, as amended, agreed to.
SECTION 5.
Question proposed: "That section 5 stand part of the Bill."

This section defines the scope of the Bill. It is confined to the semi-State enterprises referred to as designated bodies listed in the Schedule to the Bill.

I hoped, when we reached this section, that its scope would be much broader and would be covering a greater number of companies than it is. It refers to the specific bodies. I am unhappy about what criteria were used in selecting them. I do not condemn the reason if it was decided that it was because of the greatest number of people employed. If one is trying to windowdress an operation one will get one's views across to the greatest number of people one can. The seven bodies together would probably employ far more than are employed by the entire number of semi-State bodies we have in this country. If one thinks back to the three companies we mentioned earlier today as employing at the present time approximately 3,000, then the seven companies here would employ more than 52,000.

While the Minister tried to convey that one of the criteria secretly used by him, and no doubt passed on in instructions, was that we would prefer companies with the greatest numbers, I do not object to that as a criterion but I should like the Minister to be honest with the House and say if that criterion was used.

I think this is the only section on which I will have the opportunity of making this point. I am concerned about what I may call the geographical spread of the major employers in the bodies mentioned. If we take the ESB with 10,500 employees, 18 unions catering for them and the bulk of these employees in the Dublin area and 11 or 12 depots or centres throughout the country, I am concerned, majorities being what they are, that representatives, whether three or four in that case, will all come from the Dublin area. I should like the Minister to deal with this. I know that it is difficult to decide finally where you draw the lines, what areas you define, whether you do it on a geographical basis or on the basis of the type of operation, taking the transmission and distribution sections, for example, of the ESB. That decision must be made and my only concern is that if you did take these sections of the ESB you probably would have three representatives from the area with the greatest number of staff.

In the case of the Sugar Company there is a different sort of spread with the head office in Dublin, four major Sugar Company plants, and food plants in different parts of the country. I know it is not practical to have one representative from each unit but cognisance must be taken of the different areas, either on the basis of operations or on a geographical basis. Now we have fairly substantial development in NET which up to now had headquarters in Arklow but in the foreseeable future we shall have in my own county another big operation and the present 10,500 work force of NET will probably expand very substantially when Marina Point becomes operational. I believe headquarters should be represented of course and that the new factory or plant should be represented. Again, it would be difficult for the Minister to get a reasonably satisfactory solution as regards the number of directors appointed. It is impossible to extend the board so as to placate every area particularly in the case of major companies. I should like to know what guidelines the Minister may be considering.

At a later stage we shall be seeking an amendment in regard to nominating bodies but as regards these bodies as the Minister now envisages them I am concerned that undoubtedly the large centre of population will have the greatest chance of nominating all the directors. I fully accept their entitlement to representation and possibly to majority representation but I think it should not be entirely confined to one area. The same problem arises in regard to CIE with its very substantial staff numbers in Dublin. If you were to divide it by way of operation you would probably have a three-way divide between rail, road and freight. While I may be critical of the Minister at times I can sympathise with him on other occasions and I see that if he does divide it in that way it is again probable that the representative of each section would be from the main centre of population. I do not think that would be conducive to the successful operation of workers' democracy or industrial democracy as we want to see it. I want to assure the Minister that whatever reservations we have—and I have expressed some—about the type of system being introduced, if the House decides on this system it must be seen to work in the interests of the nation and the economy. Our first venture into workers' democracy should set the pattern and headline for future development. While I do not expect the Minister to spell out in detail exactly what he intends to do at this stage, I should like to know what he is considering in regard to the companies I have mentioned. They are strong and Dublin-based in most cases, as against a scattered provincial base in other cases.

I do not think the Minister in his concluding speech on the Second Stage told us what consultations he had with the various State bodies. Were there consultations with all of them? Did some of them express a desire to have this participation brought in as early as possible? Were some of them opposed to it? Were there separate consultations with each of the State sponsored bodies? This is information which would be useful to us in considering the remainder of this legislation—to what extent were the boards of existing State-sponsored bodies satisfied that this was the proper type of worker participation? To what extent were the workers in different State-sponsored bodies agreed that it was the type they would prefer?

If a State-sponsored body decides to have its own scheme of worker participation is that body free to operate that scheme? Suppose Bord Fáilte or the IDA or some other State-sponsored body not mentioned in the Bill decided to initiate a scheme of its own somewhat analogous to what is being done here, would they be precluded from doing so? Must they have this type only? Could they have a scheme which would be agreed between themselves and the workers? This might arise later when we are dealing with the private sector. It will be a matter of very great importance to them.

To what extent are State-sponsored bodies free to initiate and promote their own schemes of worker participation? Must they accept what we are providing here or will they be permitted? Granted they have the concept of workers and management in so doing. It is only one of the things that will arise in relation to this. Would the Minister give an indication whether all the other State-sponsored bodies were approached and asked if they were anxious to have this or whether consultations were held with them as to the extent to which they were prepared to accept and implement the legislation at a given time, to what extent the unions and workers generally within an enterprise accepted and were anxious or otherwise to have it, or if any alternative scheme was suggested to them and under what conditions? In the protracted negotiations which the Minister has referred to, what alternatives, if any, were suggested and to what extent was there a consensus in favour of the type of legislation we have here?

These matters are relevant to the section now under discussion, but I am sure there will be other opportunities for the Minister to explain this if he has not already done so. I had not the pleasure of being here when he replied to the Second Stage debate. Maybe he did cover it on that occasion. Anybody talking about this legislation, such as the people who read the newspapers and take an interest in what happens in this House—that is most people —will ask why a particular number of companies was designated and why the others opted out. Some think that they had no option. Were they given an opportunity, and to what extent were they regarded as not suitable? Perhaps we are being repetitive, perhaps we have covered this on the amendments tabled by Deputy Fitzgerald which have been discussed and rejected. But on the section which relates to appointments I ask to what extent the Minister may be in a position to give replies without divulging any confidential information that would be detrimental to the interests of the enterprise concerned. We certainly would welcome any information we can get in that respect.

The decision about worker participation, the model to be followed, whether it will be based on a two-tier approach or a single board approach, was my decision. It must be understood that in all decisions of this kind there are policy decisions and other decisions. The policy decisions belong, of course, to the Ministers of the relevant Departments. Policy decisions and areas of selection belong to the area of general policy which is not subject to consultation with other bodies, for the simple reason that, as the Deputy quite properly mentions, there are many theories about what should be the correct components of a worker participation policy for this or any other country. Somebody has to make a decision as to the components and what its objectives should be, and that decision has to be made before any progress can be made at all towards its implementation. The actual selection of companies has also to be a policy decision. I have indicated before now some of the criteria that went into the selection process itself, having admitted freely in other parts of this discussion, at Second Stage and at earlier points that were more relevant to the matter, and at Committee Stage here, that you can, as you look at the criteria I mentioned, suggest why not this company or that company. A good deal of preparation went into this decision that resulted in the selection of the seven companies we have here.

The other point raised by Deputy G. Fitzgerald was the correction of any regional imbalance that might occur after the election in favour of the Dublin area, which naturally does have the bulk of the employees in many of these companies, and how to prevent this regional imbalance in the numbers of worker-directors who would be elected after the election and the implementation periods have been decided upon. This is difficult and complex and it is a problem on which there will be discussions between ourselves and the unions who will be concerned with the implementation. It is clear that neither the unions who represent the employees working in these companies nor ourselves would be anxious to see over-emphasis on one region in terms of the people who would represent the workers in that area. That will be the subject of discussions between us and I am sure we will get some useful solutions.

Question put and agreed to.
SECTION 6.
Question proposed: "That section 6 stand part of the Bill."

The purpose of this section is to provide that in the case of each State enterprise to which the Bill relates an election should be held during certain election years. The election years will occur every third year and in each of the years selected a nomination day not later than 15th of September.

May I ask, in regard to something on which I am not clear in the Bill, does 15th of September relate to the election or nomination day?

In relation to an election year.

On this section I would hope that we can be looking forward to the implementation of worker participation in these bodies in 1977, in other words that this section will be the means by which the nomination day in election year, presumably 1977, will be established. The only comment I have to make on it is that we are now having under this section elections every successive third year. I hope that the Minister will take into consideration the desirability of considering rotation of persons for the purpose of being appointed. The reason I say that is that we should maintain a possibly youthful balance and prevent a situation that I believe is developing in too many State companies where appointees or directors so appointed were allowed to remain—I am not going to say after they have lost their usefulness, that would be unkind— certainly after they have lost their initiative to contribute or after they have lost their enthusiasm to make a worth-while contribution to the State company.

They begin to plateau.

They begin to level off at a certain stage.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again.