Apprenticeship Bill, 1930—Committee Stage.
Sections 1 and 2 agreed to.
At the request of Senator Connolly, I beg to move the following amendment which stands in his name:—
Section 3, sub-section (2). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—
(2) Whenever the Minister makes a special order declaring a trade to be designated trade in any area that does not extend to the whole of Saorstát Eireann and whenever the members thereof representing the employers or the employees fail to nominate their representatives to the apprenticeship committee, the Minister may apply such rules as may be agreed upon by a committee the representative members of which have been selected in equal proportions by the governing body in Saorstát Eireann of the trades union of the designated trade and the governing body in Saorstát Eireann of the employers' association of such trade.
Section 3 provides for the establishment of apprenticeship districts and apprenticeship committees in these districts. Senator Connolly foresaw that if the districts were small it is quite possible that a committee would not be established in some of these small districts. The employers and the workmen would not go to the trouble of establishing committees under this measure and the object of the amendment is to give the Minister authority to deal with such a situation should it arise.
The amendment is self-explanatory. If there is an area in which employers and workmen do not form committees, then it should be competent for the governing body of workers and of employers to form a committee. I submit that the amendment is a great improvement on the Bill, and that it ought to be accepted.
The amendment deals with a certain situation, but in my opinion it does not deal with the real situation. The Bill proposes that certain trades shall be designated. There are provisions in it for the setting up of committees, but there is no provision that I can find as to how these committees are to be set up. The Minister does not say anywhere in the Bill that the employers' association, representing a particular industry, shall select its representatives, or that the trade union shall select its representatives. In my opinion the position is not satisfactory. The Bill simply speaks of representatives of employees and employers. There is no mention in the Bill as to the body that is to be responsible to select the people for these important committees. In my opinion that is a flaw in the Bill.
Would the Minister say what method he proposes to adopt for the setting up of these committees? There is nothing in the Bill to indicate what means will be adopted. In the case of certain industries, in certain districts, one can well understand that the employers may not be an organised body, and that you may have precisely the same position with regard to the workers. In cases where employers and workers are in an organised body, then in my opinion they should be the responsible people, and the only people, to form these committees. I gathered from certain remarks made by the Minister in the Dáil that it is his intention to proceed on the lines of inviting members of employers' associations and of trades unions, where they exist, to form these committees, but that is merely a pious expression of opinion. There is nothing in the Bill about that. The intentions of the present Minister for Industry and Commerce are in that direction, but if to-morrow there is another Minister administering the Act there is nothing to prevent his selecting three or four employers and three or four workmen independent of the employers' associations and of the trades unions. The working of this Act will depend on getting proper people to act on these committees. For that reason I hope the House will accept the proposal that where employers and workmen are organised in the case of a particular industry, they will be the responsible bodies to select their respective representatives to act on these committees.
It is also provided that there shall be nominated persons on these committees. "Representative persons" is the term used. I submit that is not satisfactory. The successful working of this measure will depend on a proper atmosphere being created, and on the proper people being selected to act. I am sincerely anxious that this Bill should be put into operation, but I want to have it amended in the direction indicated. As I said on the Second Reading, I believe that such a Bill is absolutely essential at the present time. For a great number of years I have been in an humble way trying to do something on the lines indicated here in regard to this question of apprenticeship. With regard to the selection of nominated persons to act on these committees, if we are to judge by what has happened in somewhat similar cases it will be found, I think, that in most cases nominated persons are hostile to the point of view of the trade unions. I say that deliberately, speaking from nearly thirty years' experience as a trades union official. In 99 cases out of 100, where these "impartial" people were appointed, I have found they were certainly not partial to the trades union.
I have attended arbitration proceedings in connection with trades union disputes. I attended arbitration proceedings in a case that related to farm workers. The arbitrator in that case was a farmer. I have never seen a farm labourer appointed an arbitrator in such a case. I have seen employers in different callings appointed arbitrators in the case of industrial disputes, but I have never seen a working class representative appointed by the State to act as arbitrator. Surely if it is right in one case it ought to be right in the other. I do not suggest that the workers are all angels, but I am not going to admit that the employers are all angels either.
From the point of view of the ordinary working man or woman this principle of appointing these "impartial" persons amounts to this, that the dice are loaded against the workers. I make that statement deliberately because I think it is right. That is going to be the result, too, with regard to these nominated persons. Arbitrators or committees, composed of nominated persons are supposed to hold the scales evenly, but our experience of them has been as I have stated. You never find an ordinary working class person appointed to act as an arbitrator. You generally find university professors, employers or people of that class selected.
Would not a university professor be a workingman?
I do not suggest that he is not.
He is certainly not a member of the wage-earning class. In 999 cases out of 1,000 you generally find that a university person appointed to act is the son of an employer. I would like to have a definite statement from the Minister on these points. I want to know from him if he will embody in the Bill a provision that in the setting up of these committees the employers' association and the trades union, in the case of an industry, will be the bodies to select the representatives to act on these committees. I would also like to get from the Minister his point of view with regard to the type of person he would select to act in a nominated capacity on the committees.
I think the amendment in its present form would probably not work out in a practical way but still there is something to be said for the point of view of Senator Connolly-as expressed in the amendment. I am not now thinking of the trade union approach to the question. We may presume, whether it is the Minister's intention or not I do not know, that the normal committee will extend over the whole country. There is provision made for district committees. It may be that a trade will be designated, let us say, in the metropolitan area. As far as I can gather from Senator Connolly's point of view it is that there may be certain obligations placed upon employers which will have the effect of imposing certain costs and thereby adding to the handicap that they sometimes profess to have when working in the Dublin area as compared with the country area which may not be organised and may not be a designated trade in that area. I think Senator Connolly would desire that if there is to be a designated trade in, let us say, the Dublin area that there ought to be, whether by the will of the employers and of the employees in a country area which has a branch of the industry or trade, a committee set up in that area by the decision of the Minister quite apart from whether the employers and the employees in the district are agreeable. I think the idea of that is to lessen competition from an unorganised and undesignated trade in a particular district against rival firms in another area where the workers are better organised and the trade is a designated trade. I think there is something to be said for that point of view. I would like to hear the Minister's views on it although I do not think the amendment in its present form would meet the case.
Senator Farren's observations can, I think, be dealt with on Section 4. With regard to the amendment before the House, I consider that it is quite unworkable. I would like to have an expression of opinion from the two Senators who have spoken to it as to whether they want this to apply generally or merely to the peculiar circumstances that are hinted at here, that is to say: where the members representing the employers or the employees in an area, not being the whole of the Saorstát, fail to nominate their representatives, then you are going to get something else to occur. Are we to apply that generally? Is it the view of the Seanad that, where an attempt to get representative members has failed, then I am to make and to impose such rules as may be agreed on by certain other bodies? Personally, I would hesitate very much to ask the Seanad to accept such a recommendation generally.
What the amendment asks is that where, for some reason or another not stated, the members representing the employers or the employees fail to nominate their representatives in an area, not the whole of the Saorstát, then I am to do certain other things. Supposing the failure is because the employers or the employees in a particular district do not want the Bill to apply to them at all; then we are to compel them to have it, and after that we are to have all that flows from such compulsion. If the difficulty is on the part of the employees in a particular district, not being the whole of the Free State, and that we impose certain regulations with regard to the number of apprentices, then I take it we are to face up to the position of there being in that district a series of strikes so as to prevent the application of the Act. Similarly, in the case of employers, if they do not want it must we face up to the position of having an ordinary trade dispute by way of a lock out? If that is to be the case in a district why not have compulsion with regard to the country generally? Put it in somebody's power to decide what committees ought to be set up, the conditions with regard to apprenticeship and have that for the whole country.
In addition to that general objection I have this further objection to the amendment, that it is very hard to discover a central organisation of employers in a tremendous number of businesses. It is particularly difficult to discover a central governing body of employers who control labour conditions all through the country. It would simply mean where, for some reason peculiar to a district, employers and employed had failed to agree with regard to the application of the Act, that then I was to take some other body whose authority would certainly be repudiated in a number of districts on such matters as labour conditions and the imposing on employers in those districts of whatever the central authority agreed to.
There is a further point in the amendment, that I am to impose such rules "as may be agreed upon by a committee the representative members of which have been selected in equal proportions by the governing body in Saorstát Eireann of the trades union of the designated trade and the governing body in Saorstát Eireann of the employers' association of such trade." I am not so sure about the employers' association, but I know with regard to a certain number of the employees' associations that the governing body cannot be said to be an Irish authority at all. I do not know if there is a subordinate body which can be called a governing body of employees in the Free State. Of course the same may happen with regard to employers.
The Minister has asked some questions and I will endeavour to answer him. As I understood from Senator Connolly, the meaning of the amendment is this: That there may be certain areas in the west and south of Ireland, cities like Limerick, Galway, Cork, and Tralee, in which the employers and the employees did not desire to have this Act or were too listless to form a committee to operate it. It might be that they did not consider that the Act was of much use. I may say that is the opinion generally held, notwithstanding what Senator Farren has said. What the amendment aims at is that in such cases and in order that there should be some uniformity in a particular trade throughout the country the responsible Minister should have the power of nominating an equal number of people from organisations of employers and of employees to act.
So far as I understand it, that is the view of Senator Connolly. It is the view that I undertook to express here on his behalf in moving the amendment. I did not intend to take much part in this debate on my own account, because I see there are a great many difficulties occasioned by the fact that we really do not know in any particular trade who is King and who is merely Pretender.
The Minister has very briefly adverted to a little difficulty, that the governing body of a trade in a city or a large area might be somewhat difficult to find sometimes. It would certainly be somewhat difficult to find it generally acknowledged as the governing and ruling body. The idea underlying the amendment is that if apprenticeship to a trade is to be regulated, it ought to be uniform throughout the country, and that if in any particular area employers or employed do not conform to the general scheme then they should be compelled to do so. There is undoubtedly underlying the amendment the idea of compulsion for the purpose of getting uniformity.
I would like to get from the Minister an expression of opinion as to what his general intention is regarding the scope of action of the committees. Is the normal to be a committee covering the whole country, or is the normal to be committees in particular districts? If we had the present Minister's views on that matter it would help us to understand better what the scheme would be as a whole. When I ask for the Minister's present intentions I am not assuming that what he does to-day will be done by his successor to-morrow; but if we had his views it would help us to understand what is the general plan and scheme of this Bill, so much of which is to be done by departmental regulation and decision. I am anxious to know whether it is designed that the normal committee shall be for the whole country or whether the normal committee will be a district committee.
On the Second Reading of this Bill I was assured that there was no intention of imposing these committees on any trade unless the employers and the employees came together and requested the Minister to form such a committee. Now, so far as I can gather from what Senator Comyn has said and from the terms of the amendment, the idea is to try and compel trades in certain districts of the country to work these committees whether they like it or not. Speaking from my own personal knowledge I can say that there are trades in many parts of the country that would very strongly object to any compulsion. Further, I think they are the best judges themselves of what will be injurious or helpful to them. Where employers and employees themselves do not think that the formation of such committees is desirable, then, in my opinion, if the committees are formed against their desire, it will be most injurious. It would be a fatal thing in my opinion to compel them, in such circumstances, to form committees.
In answer to Senator Johnson's point I cannot say that there is any definite procedure laid down as yet. To my mind, the larger the group and the bigger the area the better is likely to be the effects of the Bill. If it were possible I would like to see the whole of Saorstát Eireann a district. I think that would tend to equalise conditions and to get a better standard of conditions.
With regard to Senator Barrington's point I have insisted right through that the Bill is based on the voluntary principle. We are not going to impose things on anybody. It is my intention that there should be no coercion with regard to this. The Senator's second point comes back to the matter that was raised by Senator Johnson. If, say, employers and employees do not agree to the making of the whole of Saorstát Eireann the area, then it will not be in my power to bring that about. I would tend towards that. I would try to persuade people as much as possible to accept that point of view. There may be peculiar circumstances in certain trades which would lead to a reversal of that opinion, but our aim would be to make the whole country a district. We would seek to get the goodwill of employers and employees. If they did not agree to that then, of course, the views of the Department would not have any effect.
With regard to the views expressed by the Minister in respect to making the whole country, as far as reasonably possible, the area, I think if that were done it would be much more satisfactory than having a number of small districts. I am glad to hear that is the Minister's intention. I did assume, even if committees were set up in different districts, that the Minister's authority before he actually made an order would be used for the purpose of regularising, co-ordinating and unifying a general scheme so as not to have differences between one district in the same trade and another district in that trade. Much of the difficulty that might arise would be obviated if there was that general uniformity which the Minister could bring about by the use of his co-ordinating authority.
Amendment put and declared lost.
Section 3 agreed to.
Question proposed: That Section 4 stand part of the Bill.
Earlier in the debate Senator Farren raised two points on this section. His first point was as to how the representative members referred to in (1) (a) are to be chosen, and the second point was as to the types of people, as the Senator referred to them, I had in mind for nomination where they may be appointed under (1) (a) and (2). With regard to the first point, I would like to see an amendment by the Senator, if he cares to put one down, imposing on me the necessity of consulting the trades unions if there be trades unions in a district, because I think that is an exception that will have to be allowed for, and of consulting the employers' organisation if there be one in a district. Leaving aside the exception that there may be no organised bodies in a district, but taking the case where there are such bodies, my intention would be most decidedly, if I wanted to get representative members of the trade in such district, to go to the trades union and to the employers' association to get such representatives. If the Senator likes to incorporate that in the Bill, and wishes to bring in an amendment in order to make it a definite rule, I would certainly look on the amendment with great sympathy. Provision, of course, would have to be made to meet the exceptional cases where there may be no recognised bodies of employers and for the odd case where there may be no recognised trade union in a district.
With regard to the Senator's second point, I cannot say that I have distinctly before me any particular type of people to act as appointed members. In connection with the Trade Board Acts, it has been my duty to appoint members to act on them. The work to be done was of a very good type, social work and work of an honorary character, and yet I found some difficulty in getting people to undertake it. With regard to those who did undertake the work, they certainly lived up to all the expectations we had of them. They have shown themselves as being able to look at the rather narrow problems presented to them at these boards, without any bias either towards the employers' class generally or towards employees generally, but to rule on the matters that came before them in a fair and impartial manner.
There has been no complaint at all with regard to the people who have been acting as appointed members of trades boards. It is pretty difficult to get people. You have to get a person who has some knowledge of a particular trade or industry and of the conditions under which people work. They have to have a certain humanitarian outlook and they have to have a fair amount of leisure. We have been successful in getting a fair number of people who have been able to give plenty of time and attention to that particular type of work. There is a good idea in the Department as to the characteristics that would be looked for, and they would continue to look for people of the same type. I would say distinctly that the Department in these cases sets itself clearly against the person who is biassed one way or the other. Impartiality is required.
On this question of the appointed member, there are two classes of committees, one which will deal with non-trade-board trades and the other which will deal with trade-board trades. In respect of the non-trade-board trades, which mean mainly trades which employ craftsmen and certain others—we may take that as a generalisation—the feeling in the trade unions is that there should be only one appointed member who should be chairman. In the section an option is given to the Minister. Three may be appointed members at his discretion, but the number shall not exceed three. In the Dáil it was sought to confine it to one, who should be chairman. It is thought by the trade unions that because the committee will be composed of employers and employees in equal numbers it might be necessary to have an appointed member as chairman. To bring in two others, or even to make it possible to bring in two others, raises doubts as to the wisdom of bringing in any outside persons to decide on matters which employers and employees may not be able to decide. If they can decide then there is no need for the appointed person at all. I make the suggestion that if more than one person is to be appointed on any of these boards, or if they are required to assist in the discussions at these boards, they should not be there as members but rather as assessors to the two sides. There is undoubtedly the feeling abroad at the present time, in the absence of experience of the working of these boards, that these appointed members are going to sway the balance as between employers and employed, and being outside the trade, that they will not be guided by their knowledge but by either prejudice or theory, and will not have a practical experience to guide them. The chairman, of course, will be in that position. In fact, he should not have a casting vote at all, and if the two sides are not able to agree the committee should make no recommendation to the Minister. It should not be left to the Minister. They would say: not having found agreement we cannot make any rule. I put it forward as a suggestion that if there is to be more than one appointed member on a board which deals with crafts they should only be there as assessors and not as voting members. There is no amendment put down to this because of the way the Minister opposed it in the Dáil but I do desire that he will take notice of that criticism and that suggestion.
I would like to repeat very briefly since Senator Johnson has put one point of view the particular argument that I used in the Dáil when this same point was first mooted. On the mere matter of numbers, what I have already said as to the difficulty of getting suitable persons will indicate that my own disposition would be towards the single member rather than the three, because it would be much more difficult to get three than one. But against that, there is another point of view. If Senators adverted to the terms of the Bill they will have realised right through, not merely on the question of appointed members of committees, what is looked for always is agreement as between the two parties. We do not lay down, for instance, when rules are to be made by the Apprenticeship Committee that they are to be made by a majority of the people present and voting. The Bill states in a later section that the Apprenticeship Committee shall make rules on certain matters and may make rules on others. These rules do not operate at once. They come before the Minister, and he may either confirm or reject them. I think in those circumstances it does not matter very much whether the appointed members are called assessors or appointed members. If there is a definite conflict of opinion as between employers on the one side and employees on the other you have then your three appointed members, and the Minister gets a recommendation made by a body where employees are lined up on one side and employers on the other and the one or the three appointed members take a particular side. He will look to that, as to how the vote has been taken, and what is the composition of the majority. If the Minister then makes up his mind that the appointed members had the wrong point of view, in his opinion, he will implement that opinion by not confirming the rule. Whether appointed members are called assessors or full members, it seems to me, matters very little, but it does seem to matter very considerably where there is a likelihood of a dispute in regard to apprentices. In that case, I think I would much rather have a recommendation with regard to a rule coming from a body composed of not merely employers and employees, but three representatives of the public. I think it would be much better that I should have a report from three such people. For that reason I would prefer to leave it as it is. It can be one, two or three, up to a maximum of three. I think it is better to have a good representation of the outside public there— impartial people—than to have it confined to a single person.
In the skilled trades, where conditions are more or less settled, I think there would be little likelihood of there being anybody other than a single member, but in trades that may be under the apprenticeship conditions for the first time, where conditions are not settled and where there is a possibility of dispute here and there, then I think the Minister would be well advised to appoint not one but three.
The Minister has said, and it has been his constant remark, that the Bill is based upon the idea of agreement right through. I have no doubt that that is his intention, but the language of the Bill does not indicate that at all. The committee may do certain things, and they shall do certain others, subject, of course, to confirmation by the Minister. The Minister may have the intention in his mind at present to say that it is only when the rules are made, and there is something like agreement in the committee, that there will be a final ratification. That is his intention. It is not in the Bill, and there is no assurance given to people who are to participate in this scheme that that will be the law. It is well to look at this matter from the point of view of the trade unions. The Minister will appreciate that in the working of such a scheme as is designed here, confidence must be generated at the outset, and if there is a feeling that outside persons are going to come in and that the committee may make rules or shall make rules only subject to the confirmation of the Minister, it is going to be very difficult to get that confidence from the outset.
Question—"That Section 4 stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sections 5, 6, and 7 agreed to.
(1) Every apprenticeship committee shall make the following rules, that is to say:—
(a) rules (in this Act referred to as apprenticeship classification rules) declaring that employment in the designated trade for which such committee is established of any specified class of persons in any specified manner shall constitute employment by way of apprenticeship in such trade;
(b) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the period of apprenticeship) in relation to the period (including any probationary period) of employment by way of apprenticeship in such trade in the district of such committee;
(c) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the minimum rates of wages) in relation to the minimum rates of wages to be paid to persons employed by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district;
(d) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the maximum hours of work) in relation to the maximum number of hours (exclusive of overtime) which may be worked in any week by persons employed by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district, but not so as to increase the maximum number of such hours appointed by or under any other enactment.
(2) Every apprenticeship committee may make all or any of the following rules, that is to say:—
(a) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the educational qualifications of apprentices) in relation to the educational qualifications of persons entering on employment by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade for which such committee is established with persons carrying on such trade in the district of such committee;
(b) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the age of entry on apprenticeship) in relation to the age limits within which employment by way of apprenticeship may commence in such trade in such district;
(c) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the training of apprentices) requiring employers carrying on such trade in such district to train and instruct apprentices employed by them in a specified manner;
(d) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating the number of apprentices) fixing in relation to any specified employer carrying on such trade in such district the number (in this Act referred to as the standard number) of apprentices whom such committee considers should be employed by such employer in such trade in such district, and such number may, if such apprenticeship committee thinks fit, be expressed as a proportion of the number of persons of any class or classes employed from time to time in such trade in such district by such employer.
(3) An apprenticeship committee may from time to time by rules made under this section rescind, amend, or add to any rules previously made by them under this section and for the time being in force.
(4) An apprenticeship committee shall not make any rules under this section unless and until one month's notice of the intention to make such rules has been given in accordance with regulations made by the Minister and until they have considered any representations made in relation to such rules received before the expiration of the said period.
(5) Every rule made by an apprenticeship committee under this section shall be submitted to the Minister as soon as may be after it is made and no such rule shall be of any force or effect unless or until it is confirmed by order of the Minister, but on being so confirmed shall come into force on such date (not earlier than the date of such order) as shall be specified in that behalf in such order or, if no such date is so specified, on the date of such order.
I move amendment 2:
Section 8, sub-section (1). After the word "wages" in line 19 to insert the words "per hour."
This amendment is really linked up with the next amendment. One of the obligatory rules to be made by the apprenticeship committee is "in relation to the minimum rates of wages to be paid to persons employed by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district." Then in the next paragraph there is a reference to rules fixing the maximum number of hours to be worked "exclusive of overtime." If I may refer to the next amendment to clarify what I have to say upon this one it is to this effect: When we make minimum rates of wages they may be minimum rates of wages per week. If we make maximum hours per week, exclusive of overtime, we may find apprentices working two hours overtime every day, which would, undoubtedly, have the effect of reducing the minimum rate of wages per week. Hence I have tried to meet that by indicating that the minimum rate of wages should be an hourly rate of wages. I realise the defect of that, because there may be minimum rates of wages based upon the piece, and piecework, undoubtedly, makes it difficult to fix the minimum rate per hour in all trades. But, when dealing with the next amendment, we will see the necessity of having regard to the rate of wages if the rate of wages is to be fixed on a weekly basis. I do not want to press this amendment at this stage, because I see the difficulty of defining what the rate of wages shall be per hour, or a time rate at all, because there may have to be a piece rate in some trades. I draw attention to it at this stage because of the defect I see in the next sub-section. If we cannot amend the next paragraph, then I think it will be necessary to amend this paragraph to make the two work in harmony.
I had not adverted to the fact, when I saw the Senator's amendments first, that the two were to be read together. I, therefore, could not understand why he was moving the second amendment. It seemed to me that it was rather an undesirable thing to insist on the committee's prescribing a rate per hour instead of a rate per week, as the committee may think of doing. As far as I understand the run of the Senator's argument it is clear that if the apprenticeship committee decides, say, a pound as the minimum rate of wages and afterwards goes to decide under (d) that 40 hours is the maximum number of hours, the rules may be read in this way: That a pound is the minimum rate for a 40 hours week, and they have added overtime for which there may be no payment. It seems to me that this will have to be more closely examined. It seems that clauses (c) and (d) say that there is a maximum number of hours, leaving the question of overtime out, and that the wages to be paid are so much for that week. It appears that the implication is that overtime is to be extra, and is not to be taken in the minimum rate of wages by any means. However, there is a point which will have to be considered. I had not adverted to the possibility of the Senator reading the two amendments together. I do not think the danger is there that he seems to apprehend.
I would like to support the section as it stands in the Bill and to oppose the amendment suggested by Senator Johnson for the reasons he has given himself. I have some experience of this sort of thing in small industries in the country. He has told us that he can recognise the fact that payment in all probability in many cases will have to be on piece-work. That is so. If it was not so it would be impossible to carry out many of these small industries. Therefore, I do not see how it would be possible to prescribe rates. This amendment is a double-barrelled one. In the first place, he wants to prescribe that the rates be per hour and, in the second place, he wants to take care if they are by hour that overtime is not to be included. I do not follow his argument as to overtime. I have always understood that if overtime was worked it had to be paid for. I think that the other reason he gave is one that really will govern the question of payment. In most of these cases of apprentices payment will have to be on piece-work. Therefore, I think it would be most undesirable to accept this amendment.
I ask leave to withdraw amendment No. 2.
Will you put it down again on Report?
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
I move amendment 3: Section 8, sub-section (1):—
To delete in line 23 the words "(exclusive of overtime)".
I have already touched upon the purpose of this amendment. The rules are to be in relation to the maximum number of hours, exclusive of overtime. That being set down in the Bill is an indication to the board that any reference to hours they make in the rules must have no relation to overtime. I want to delete these words "(exclusive of overtime)," so that the rules to be made in regard to hours will be simply in regard to the maximum number of hours. The rule itself may contain conditions regarding overtime. The committee may say in the rule "not exceeding 80 hours a week, but that the normal working week shall not be more than 40." I do not think that we should have these words "(exclusive of overtime)" here, because if there were a rate of wages fixed for a week's work notwithstanding what the Minister says I think it is very likely that certain employers will say: "We are going to work our normal week of 40 hours or 48 hours, but then as we are allowed to add overtime we may add two hours per day overtime and there is no compulsion at all, neither in practice nor in law, to say that the persons working overtime as apprentices shall receive an increased rate of pay." The rules may be used, as a matter of fact, for the purpose of extending the working hours of a considerable number of persons in a factory. I would like Senators to bear in mind that this Bill is not only going to deal with apprentices to crafts, but also with young persons in factories who would become apprentices by the fact that the trade is designated. If those persons are working at a minimum rate of wages for a maximum number of hours, exclusive of overtime, employers in some houses will say: "We have got a loophole here. We can work three hours a day in addition to the maximum number of hours because the law definitely lays it down that the maximum number of hours fixed by the board is exclusive of overtime." I think there is a distinct loophole there and that we ought not to put in these words "exclusive of overtime."
This is different from what the Senator previously referred to. Here I really confess that I cannot follow the argument. The Senator wants to have the words "exclusive of overtime" left out. If these words are left out undoubtedly committees are going to envisage overtime. They must bring overtime into their consideration. If they do you are going to have a normal week fixed with the number of hours sufficiently big to cover the ordinary periods of overtime. The Apprenticeship Committee will have to take into consideration that in some trades there will be, for instance, a Christmas rush, and that there must be overtime worked. They will then bring in a time that will allow a sufficient number of hours for overtime. It seems to me that to leave these words out will rather go to the advertising of long hours when, in fact, long hours are not the normal thing at all. I do not see how it can be alleged that there is a loophole in the Bill. The Bill does not profess to cover every case. It allows for rules and regulations to be made. It may be that there is something to be left to be covered, and there is provision made for covering any gap by the rules or by the regulation.
There is a further point that has to be borne in mind. If Senators confine their attention to the word "apprentice," and think only in terms of the old indentured apprentice, misleading deductions are apt to be drawn from the Bill and from this section in particular. The Bill brings in not merely whole-time apprentices, but people who would be more normally described as learners. I would like Senators to envisage, in relation to learners, a particular factory where overtime has to be worked in order to fulfil an order. The learner class will be quite as essential to the completion of the work as what you might call the ordinary skilled everyday worker, and the rules will have to make provision for the employment of these people working overtime to meet extraordinary rushes. I do not think there is any great probability of abuse by reason of this phrase being left in. One certainly does not stop the abuse by leaving the words out. If the words are left out an extraordinarily large number of hours will be fixed in order to include small extended periods of overtime. If we leave them in, the ordinary period will be fixed with regard to ordinary conditions. Overtime will be a different matter, and the overtime can be met in other ways.
The Minister has not yet met the point which I think is the real difficulty, that if you leave this paragraph as it stands you make the maximum number of hours exclusive of overtime. Suppose you make it 40 hours. Some employer says: "I can get my unorganised men and women who are beyond the age of apprenticeship to work 50 hours a week, and under this provision I am going to get my learners to work 50 hours a week, too." You get the unfair employer who is competing with a fair employer to take advantage of any loophole. In the case of ten factories, say, employers and workers have agreed to a maximum of 45 hours, and are keeping to it. The apprentices and the older workers are keeping to it. Another employer comes along and says he is going to take advantage of this loophole, that he can get unorganised workers to come in and work 55 hours a week. He can get his apprentices to work 55 hours a week under the pretence that they will be working overtime.
The Senator envisages a normal week of forty hours and some employer finding a loophole and saying that he can get his unorganised apprentices to work 55 hours. He envisages a week with 15 hours' overtime.
Take it at five. If you leave out the words "exclusive of overtime" what is going to happen? Either of two things. The Trade Board will meet and say to themselves, looking back over a couple of years, that there are certain businesses that must be allowed to work 15 hours' overtime in certain weeks of the year. They will take that into consideration and establish a 55 hour week as a normal week for everybody. Alternatively, they will have 40 hours without overtime. Therefore, no overtime can be worked, and if a factory has to meet an order and with a view to meeting that order has to get people to work overtime it is prevented from meeting it. There are only two alternatives. Either the maximum hours will be fixed at 40 and all overtime will be prohibited or else the committee will take into consideration the fact that overtime must at some time be worked and they will make a calculation over a number of years and decide upon a number of hours, say 15, in certain weeks in the year. I promise to look into the points that have been raised in the course of this debate. With regard to the remarks about preventing the exploitation of of workers in overtime periods, that is a different point. The point that I am dealing with is that which has reference to the desirability of wiping out these words.
I will not press the amendment now.
Amendment by leave, withdrawn.
I beg to move amendment 4:—
Section 8, sub-section (2). To add at the end of the sub-section a new paragraph as follows:—
(e) rules (in this Act referred to as rules regulating apprenticeship premiums) in relation to the fee, premium, or other consideration which may be taken in respect of the employment of a person by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district.
This amendment must be read in conjunction with amendment No. 8, which is also in my name. The two amendments hang together. Amendment No. 8 reads:—
New section. Before section 23 to insert a new section as follows:—
"23.—(1) It shall not be lawful for any person (in this section referred to as an employer) carrying on in the district of an apprenticeship committee the designated trade for which such committee is established to take or receive any fee, premium, or other consideration (in this section referred to as an apprenticeship premium) in respect of the employment of any person by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district, unless—
(a) rules regulating apprenticeship premiums made by such apprenticeship committee are for the time being in force, and
(b) such apprenticeship premium does not exceed the amount permitted by such rules to be taken as an apprenticeship premium.
(2) If any employer carrying on in the district of an apprenticeship committee the designated trade for which such committee is established takes or receives any apprenticeship premium in contravention of this section, he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding twenty pounds, and on such conviction the court may order such employer to pay to the person by whom such apprenticeship premium was paid, in case rules regulating apprenticeship premiums made by such committee are for the time being in force, a sum equal to the amount by which the apprenticeship premium so taken or received exceeds the apprenticeship premium permitted by such rules to be taken, and, in case no such rules are for the time being in force, a sum equal to the amount of the apprenticeship premium so taken or received."
If Senators will look at the section they will see that in sub-section (1) every "apprenticeship committee shall make the following rules." There are certain rules laid down. First of all, the Minister designates a trade and then an apprenticeship committee is constituted under the provisions of the Bill. It is mandatory on the committee when it is established to make certain regulations and rules. I suggest the addition of paragraph (e) to the mandatory rules that must be brought into operation by the apprenticeship committee, dealing with apprenticeship fees. This amendment is word for word similar to the amendment moved by the Minister when the Bill was under consideration in the other House. The Minister, when moving that amendment, put forward arguments much more forcibly than I can to recommend its acceptance. An extraordinary thing happened. Having put forward the amendment and having submitted arguments why it should be accepted, the Minister went into the Division Lobby and voted against his own amendment. I do not propose to go into the Division Lobby to vote against this amendment because I believe it is absolutely necessary.
I want it to be distinctly understood that this amendment is not intended to apply to any undesignated trades and that the only manner in which it can affect an employer is where the rules are made by the apprenticeship committee set up under the provisions of the Bill. It makes it mandatory on the committee that this shall be one of the rules that they shall bring in, dealing with the question of premiums for apprentices. In other words, it proposes to deal with the thing in a proper way and not leave it an open question to be dealt with in a slipshod manner. It deals with the whole question of premiums for apprentices in designated trades. The real point of the amendment is that if it passes it shall be mandatory on the committee to make recommendations with regard to the question of apprenticeship premiums. It does not say that they shall fix any amount; it does not say that they shall insist on premiums being paid; but it does say that they shall make rules dealing with premiums for apprentices. They have to deal with the whole question of apprenticeship—training, regulation of hours of employment, years of service, numbers of apprentices and so on, and it is only just that they should deal also with apprenticeship premiums. I believe it is necessary in the interests of the apprentices and in the interests of the measure itself that it should be mandatory on the committee to make rules.
The first amendment sets out that the committee shall make rules dealing with premiums and they may fix the amount of the premiums if they decide that premiums shall be paid. The second amendment deals with the infliction of penalties for the nonobservance of the rules that may be made by the apprenticeship committee. The main object of the amendment is to regularise the whole system of these premiums. Everybody is aware that there has been abuse with regard to the premiums. If the apprenticeship committee decides that certain rules are necessary with regard to the whole question of the regulation of premiums, they shall make rules to that effect. The second amendment deals with any infringement of the rules that may be made. When the rules are made they have to be confirmed by the Minister before they are put into operation. No hardship can be inflicted upon anybody. I am anxious to see things done properly. The experts are the people who will make the recommendations with regard to the whole question of apprenticeship premiums.
Senator Farren pointed out that amendment 4 was directly associated with amendment 8. He has not enlarged upon the necessity for having regulations dealing with the question of apprenticeship premiums. If I may refer to amendment 8, it will be seen that until an apprenticeship committee has made rules regulating the amount of premium, it will not be lawful in a designated trade for any employer to receive premiums in respect of an apprentice. It is pretty well known to those who follow such matters that in a number of trades and occupations employers of a certain type have made at least a very material part of their incomes through the exploitation of this premium system. They receive apprentices from the country and train them for a certain occupation. They draw a certain amount for teaching the sons of innocent or ignorant countrymen a trade. Farmers are very anxious to get their sons and sometimes their daughters into an industry and they are prepared to pay. Knowing the hunger for that kind of employment there are some employers, a considerable number of them, who exploit that hunger and who get £20, £30 or £40 as premiums. They take in apprentices and keep them on for a few months or a year and they finish with them, perhaps to start somewhere else under some other name at the same business.
That is not an uncommon practice in certain classes of trade. Quite apart from this extravagant, I was going to say exceptional, instance, the system of receiving premiums has been very badly abused. Apprentices are simply taken on, but not taught. Presumably when this measure becomes operative, employers will be obliged to teach apprentices or secure their teaching. As conditions exist apprentices are received as premium apprentices, but they are not given any real training in many instances, and parents are simply being fleeced for fees. There is a very general sentiment, certainly in the trade union movement, but also in many instances outside the trade union movement, against this system of premiums, and we are very strongly of opinion that, in so far as it can be effected through this Bill, there shall be no premiums allowable except in conformity with rules which may be made. I can foresee certain trades where something in the nature of a premium of a legitimate kind can be allowed, and, where there is agreement between employers and employed, the two sides of the apprenticeship committee, that under certain conditions a premium can be allowed, then the committee have full liberty to make such rules as are considered necessary regulating the provision of premiums.
I join with Senator Farren in urging the Seanad to agree to amendments 4 and 8. They were moved in their present form by the Minister in the Dáil following views expressed pretty generally through the House. Then when it came to the final discussion a question was raised as to whether the insertion of the amendments would have any militating effect against the setting up of apprenticeship committees. It was thought that if, in certain industries, there should be a stop put to the reception of premiums, some employers in those particular trades would not co-operate in the setting up of a committee. That particular fear seems to have prevailed with the Minister to the extent of making him go against his own amendment. We are moving it now so as to help his original thought, and I hope the House will back him up in the amendments he originally proposed.
I will give my own account of the history of this matter in the Dáil. I brought in a measure without the subject matter of this amendment with regard to premiums in it, and certain people in the Dáil raised the point as to premiums. In response to an appeal that was made I undertook to bring in two amendments with a view to seeing how they could be brought into the framework of the Bill, but I indicated even at that point a certain suspicion as to the possible outcome of these amendments on the whole working of the legislation. I did introduce these amendments, and I found some of the people who had previously spoken on the subject, and at whose request I had put down amendments, deciding that these were dangerous. They went against the amendments and I joined them. As I remarked on the section, I never had any very strong feeling with regard to the amendments. On the whole, I did find myself coerced by arguments into believing that the amendments, if put in, would seriously hamper the working of the Bill.
Senator Farren has not accurately explained the history of the amendment. Senator Johnson has added the necessary point, but I will stress it. Amendments 4 and 8 must be taken together. Amendment 8 is the one to which I want to draw attention first. If amendment 8 is passed the situation is that all premiums in designated trades are illegal unless two conditions are fulfilled. One is that the apprenticeship committee makes rules regarding the amount of the premium, and the second is that the premium is in accordance with those rules. If the apprenticeship committee makes no rules the premiums are completely illegal. That is the position set up by amendment 8. Unless and until the apprenticeship committee makes rules with regard to premiums, then no premium is allowed. When the committee does make a rule, then the premium is only allowed in so far as it is within the amount they specify.
If you accept both amendments you start off by sayingprima facie that premiums ought not to be permitted. You would allow for exceptional cases where employers and employees might agree that the system is not so bad, that there is not in it that 80 per cent. graft or dishonesty that some Senator referred to on Second Reading. As regards my argument against premiums I have really no strong view one way or the other. If people have a view against premiums there are two methods of approach to the so-called abuse. You can say that in designated trades no premiums should be allowed, but remember until you have a trade designated you have not a prohibition on premiums. The whole thing is based on the voluntary principle. You are going to prevent a certain number of employers coming within the scope of the Act because they will not be allowed to have premiums except under the peculiar circumstances where they will get employees and themselves to agree that some such system will be allowed. I think instead of mending the abuse you are going to allow it to continue, and you are going to prevent the employers who want premiums from taking any premiums whatsoever.
I suggest there is a better way. Leaving the two amendments out, it is quite possible that there may be some half-way house as between the Bill in its present condition and the Bill if the two amendments were passed and inserted in it. It would mean that where the apprenticeship committee made rules the premiums would be in accordance with those rules. There may be some difficulty about incorporating the idea in the provision, but I think if that situation were brought about better results might accrue. You will be putting a barrier against certain trades from coming within the whole scope of the Act. You may then succeed in getting employers and employees to appoint an equal number of representatives to carry out the regulations. In the recesses of that committee, with impartial members of the public looking on, you can proceed to argue against recalcitrant employers that it is not good business to have premiums.
If you bring in this prohibition you will never get them into a committee room and you will not get them on an apprenticeship committee. I have not had enough experience of this apprenticeship system; I have not had enough cases to be able to come to a decision as to whether the premium system is wholly bad or has any merits. If it has any merits, these had better be discussed when you have an equal representation from the two parties in the presence of members of the public. If the Seanad as a whole have the view that the putting in of this prohibition prevents a certain number of trades coming within the Act, but nevertheless think that there would be a danger in regard to the giving of premiums then I will proceed to consider some half-way house on this question of premiums, something which will tend to indicate that the premium system is rather a thing to be looked down upon and, while no man will be prohibited from charging premiums, he will become rather an outcast amongst the employing class. I know it is difficult to formulate such an amendment, but we can make an endeavour towards it. I am against the present amendment only on the ground that it does not stop the abuse. All it will stop is a certain number of employers who otherwise might come from coming within the terms of the Bill; in my opinion, they will be inclined to keep out.
I hope the Minister will bring forward on the Report Stage an amendment such as he has outlined. I am sure a way out can be found. I have not had a great deal of experience in this matter of apprentices: I have had some. To my own knowledge, what Senator Johnson has said is perfectly true. The system is in certain cases liable to abuse of a most serious character. I know that so far as my own business is concerned most people will agree that that abuse has largely disappeared now. It is well over fifty years since my father said that the whole thing was iniquitous and he would have nothing whatever to do with it. I think that there may be cases, properly controlled, where some kind of a premium would be of benefit. A premium might be of some benefit in the case of a trade where, during the first year, the apprentice is of little economic value and where the premium is paid back to him by way of wages which he is not really earning at all. That is the only case where, in my opinion, a premium would be justified. Of course, you cannot get that except under some system of control.
I believe the creation of an apprenticeship committee is the only way of getting any kind of check on the abuse that exists in the apprenticeship system. I agree with the Minister that, in the case of trades where you have this abuse, if you carry these amendments you will have certain employers endeavouring to make it impossible to establish a voluntary committee. I say, emphatically, that you must get a voluntary committee, because it is only by that means that you will check abuse and, possibly, lead to abuse being stopped altogether. I hope the Minister will, on the Report Stage, introduce an amendment along the lines he has suggested.
I am glad that Senator Douglas has entered into the discussion. I had in mind a certain trade with which Senator Douglas is connected when I was considering this question of premiums. People in Dublin, who know the circumstances, are aware that there has been gross abuse—it is not an exaggeration to say that—of the system of accepting premiums from the sons and daughters of poor farmers. I know that the large employers and most of the decent employers in Dublin do not carry on this sort of business of living on premiums, but there are some small firms in Dublin that, undoubtedly, do live on these premiums year after year. That is well known to people conversant with the trade.
And they teach practically nothing at all.
They teach nothing at all and, for that matter, they have not a sufficient amount of business to teach the young people anything. When you have a designated trade, and the Merchant Drapers' Association agree to appoint representatives on a committee, and the union catering for the vast bulk of the employees in the drapery trade also agree to appoint representatives, surely it is not too much to ask, when that committee is properly constituted, that it shall have power to make a recommendation to the Minister that there shall be no premiums allowed or that there shall be premiums only under certain well-defined regulations? The amendment does not go much further than that. If you get a designated trade, I say the committee should have power to make recommendations to the Minister that the whole question of premiums should be properly regulated and properly carried out. As far as the ordinary trade unions or craft unions are concerned, it does not affect us. I am really thinking now of the exploitation of the small farmers, the hard-working members of the community, who send their boys and girls to the towns and cities to be educated in a trade or business, and who are being bled to the extent of £30 or £40 by way of premium.
I know that as far as the drapery trade is concerned the system ought to be abolished, because there is absolutely no case for it. It must be remembered, however, that there are other cases, because we are dealing with trades generally. If the Minister will introduce an amendment along the lines suggested here this evening, I am sure it will settle the whole matter.
I do not know whether we are discussing amendment 4 or whether, as Senator Farren, Senator Johnson and the Minister has said, it is inseparable from amendment 8.
We are discussing both amendments together.
I have not heard Senator Farren say one word in favour of the proposal he makes here, and to which the Minister has called attention; that is, that where no rule is in force, an apprenticeship fee is illegal. There are two classes of trades. There is the trade which is simply concerned with selling, and then there is the trade of the craftsman. In the case of the craftsman trade, I think it would be a most injurious thing to pass the amendment which Senator Farren proposes. I have had some experience of these matters, and I know that where boys are brought in to be taught a certain trade, it is essential that there should be a premium. I know that there are workmen in charge of certain very delicate and very expensive machines which they regard in something the same light as a sailor regards his ship. These men are very proud of the machines, and they rather object to boys coming in. They are expected to teach these boys all the intricacies of their trade, and yet they get no portion of the fees.
I know that in many trades it is a recognised principle that the foreman and the charge hand get portion of the fee, and the people who supply the machines also get portion of the fee. I think that is only proper. I know that until comparatively recent years that practice was in force in most of the railway workshops, and I believe that it is still in force in the larger workshops in England, and in the shipbuilding yards. I think it is absolutely necessary. In one case with which I was concerned we found it absolutely essential to give the men who instructed the boys a share of the fee, if it was only for the safety of the boys themselves and the other men in the workshops, together with the safety of the machines. The point is that if the boys were not properly instructed they might do irreparable damage. Many of the men in charge of machines may object to teaching boys unless they are paid for doing so. I think that is very reasonable, and I think that Senator Farren's proposal would have the effect of preventing that. It would have the effect of preventing all premiums for apprentices in the case of craft trades which, I take it, are the only ones involved.
I do not know what Senator Barrington is dealing with, but he may take it and the Seanad may take it that it is the unanimous view of the trades unions which represent the craft unions that this system of premiums should be abolished. This Bill, in the main, has been built up on the lines of the Apprenticeship Act in South Africa where they have abolished premiums. I cannot recall whether the report of the committee here recommended the abolition of premiums, but undoubtedly the unanimous evidence of the trade unions was against the continuance of this premium system. The Minister's case seems to be that the normal operation of these amendments would have the effect of prohibiting the taking of premiums, and that if there are exceptions to be made it will mean that premiums can only be taken under certain regulations. The Minister's fear is that if this prohibition is made it will have a deterrent effect on employers agreeing to come into the scheme.
I make this assertion: that it is only a minority of employers, who are not generally accepted as reputable, that would raise an objection to coming into the apprenticeship scheme. There may be one or two industries which, it may be hoped, will come into the apprenticeship scheme, which, in respect to certain groups of employers, live partially on premiums. I think the risk of preventing employers from coming in is very small. When the bulk of the trades on the employers' side would be willing to come into the scheme the amendment would have only the effect of preventing the non-reputable or disreputable employers from taking advantage of this system of premium exploitation.
I do not want to refer to all trades. Senator Douglas referred to the drapery trade. I have in mind the furniture trade in this City and the electrical trade which are rife with this system of premium exploitation. Employers calling themselves electrical engineers take three or four apprentices and charge them a fee while having no work practically for them to do. The case of motor engineers is another example. It may be in that one instance that the insertion of these two amendments would have the effect, for a time, of preventing the co-operation of employers in the apprenticeship scheme, but I can think of no other. I venture to say that it is only that one instance that made the Minister turn the balance against the amendment that he moved.
I understood Senator Johnson to say that premiums were entirely done away with—I do not know whether it was by the trades union or by employers or by a joint arrangement.
I did not say that at all. I am seeking to achieve that.
I hold in my hand regulations under which boys are taken into various works, and I know that it is absolutely the case, as I stated earlier, that where boys have been taught trades and to handle machines premiums are insisted on, and quite properly so. I think it is only fair and proper that a portion of these premiums should be paid to the foremen and to the men in charge of the machines who have to teach these boys in the same way that a professor in an industrial school teaches some particular trade to the pupils.
I think it would be much better if amendment 8 were withdrawn and recast so as to arrive at something between the point of view of those who oppose the amendment and those who favour it. I have one objection of my own to amendment 8, not to the principle of it, but to the drafting. The first part of it provides:—"It shall not be lawful for any person (in this section referred to as an employer) carrying on in the district of an apprenticeship committee the designated trade for which such committee is established to take or receive any fee, premium, or other consideration... " It has been occurring to me during the debate what would happen under that. Suppose that a father entered into a written agreement with a craftsman or a trader for the apprenticeship of his boy and paid a fee of £40, and that the boy continued to work as he thought as an apprentice for a year or two years, then the framing of this section would make the whole thing illegal. It has been occurring to me, would the boy's time be lost? I think that on a strict construction of that section the boy's time would be lost. In order to protect apprentices, I think it might possibly be better to postpone the consideration of that amendment until the Report Stage and see what can be done with it in the meantime.
There seems to be pretty general agreement that it is necessary that some provision be put into the Bill dealing with the question of premiums. I suggest if amendment 4 were accepted and if the other amendments were left over until the Report Stage we might, by agreement, be able to get something to fit in with it that would meet the situation.
I am taking it for granted that the general opinion is in favour of allowing the committee to deal with this matter of premiums. I am also taking it for granted that the Seanad is not unanimous in approving of amendment 8. In other words, we have had the viewpoint that premiums are illegal until the committee regulates them and makes them legal by making rules. Amendment 8 would, therefore, have to be subjected to a certain amount of amendment. In the first place it would be necessary to insert the word "when" before the lettered part (a), making it read: "When rules regulating apprenticeship premiums made by such apprenticeship committees are for the time being in force"—this to be followed by the first sub-section of the amendment—"it shall not be lawful for any person (in this section referred to as an employer) carrying on in the district of an apprenticeship committee the designated trade for which such committee is established to take or receive any fee, premium or other consideration (in this section referred to as an apprenticeship premium) in respect of the employment of any person by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district, unless"—The portion lettered (b) can stand by itself. As amended, the amendment would mean that if rules are made they must be observed. If rules are not made then the thing is at an end. I have been swayed a little by one or two things that Senator Johnson said. He made the assertion, and almost challenged contradiction, that really there are no reputable employers in any business where premiums are taken. If I thought that was the case, I would accept these amendments.
Senator Douglas intimated that the premium system still obtained in the trade that he spoke for in certain parts of the country, but personally he did not want it, and he thought good employers had rejected it. If we got the conditions established that Senator Douglas referred to, that good employers do not want this premium system, then clearly we are not going to tolerate disreputable employers insisting on it. Senator Farren referred to the motor engineering business. The premium system runs right through that trade, and if you accept these amendments you are simply preventing the motor engineering business coming inside this Bill at all. Leaving motor engineering out, if in fact in all other trades one can make the general assertion that the good employers, and the majority of employers are good, do not want the premium system, then all these trades will come within the apprenticeship legislation. In that way you can give them the power to make rules regulating this system or even abolishing it. They will probably make rules regulating it, and may make rules abolishing it, so that everything then will be the best in the best of all possible worlds so far as apprentices are concerned.
I think a case has not been made for the rather ruthless type of amendment that No. 8 is. I suggest to the House to accept amendment 4 as it stands, and have some readjustment of 8. I ask the House not to start off on the ground that until rules are made the whole thing is illegal. That is unacceptable. I am prepared to accept amendment 4 in principle. It may have to be redrafted. With regard to amendment 8 I will try to get that implemented by a further amendment.
I suggest that both amendments be withdrawn, and that the matter come up for consideration on the Report Stage.
Amendments 4 and 8, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 8 agreed to.
Sections 9, 10 and 11 agreed to.
Where rules regulating the period of apprenticeship made by an apprenticeship committee are for the time being in force, every person who is employed by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade for which such committee is established and in the district of such committee shall, where such employment commences while such rules are in force and notwithstanding any agreement to the contrary, be deemed to be employed under an agreement signed by such person and his employer whereby such employer agrees to employ such person and such person agrees to serve such employer for the period of apprenticeship specified in such rules, but such committee may, if it so thinks fit, release both parties from their respective obligations under the agreement implied by this section or modify such agreement or transfer the benefits and obligations of such employer under such agreement to another employer carrying on in such district such trade.
I move amendment 5:—
Section 12. After the word "or" in line 48, to insert the words "with the consent, in writing, of the apprentice or his guardian."
One of the provisions of this section is that the committee may, if they so think fit, release both parties, both the employer and the apprentice, from their respective obligations under the agreement implied by this section "or modify such agreement or transfer the benefits and obligations of such employer under such agreement to another employer carrying on in such district such trade." Take the case of a boy who has been engaged as an apprentice by a particular employer. The parent of the boy knows the employer to be a competent employer, that he is able to teach his trade, and there is a good character round the establishment. Something happens and there is decision on the part of the committee to release the employer from his obligations or to transfer the benefits and obligations of such employer to another employer. In effect, that means that one of the benefits which the employer receives, say, from the labour of the apprentice, who may be twenty years of age or more, is transferred, whether he wills it or not, to another employer. That is to say, the apprentice may be practically taken over as a chattel of the employer. Another employer is given the benefit of his work at the will of the committee. What my amendment seeks to achieve is that without the consent, in writing, of the apprentice or his guardian, the committee will not have the power to hand over the body and labour of the apprentice to another employer.
I do not see very much objection to the amendment. It appears to me to be illogical to the extent that the consent in writing of the apprentice or his guardian does not appear to be required for entry into the original apprenticeship. Why make it necessary when there is a transfer? There is not a great deal of importance in the matter, but if the consent in writing is not required when the original apprenticeship is entered into why require it when there is a transfer?
The Senator has made the point that a boy has been serving his time to one employer. That employer goes out of business or dies, and in that case the committee are given power either to modify the agreement or, alternatively, to transfer the benefits and obligations of that employer to another employer. The Senator said that the committee may transfer the boy to another employer who may not be as good a teacher as the first employer. That may be so. If the apprentice does not like to go, then, naturally, his consent cannot be obtained and he cases to be an apprentice. I cannot see any great force in objecting to the amendment, but I think there is a great deal of danger in it. It gives a freer choice, and I suppose the apprentice ought to have that.
I think the amendment is reasonable and ought to be accepted. I have not the same objection to it that the Minister has. I think that in the case of a transfer of apprentices from one employer to another the consent of the apprentice or his guardian should be necessary. I think it is advisable to retain the words "or his guardian," because, of course, a number of apprentices are under age and have not a great deal of discretion. A number of boys apprenticed to trades will be under the tutelage of guardians, either their own parents or, in the case of other boys not so fortunate, of other people. In any case there will be a number of apprentices either under a natural guardian or a legal guardian of some kind. I think it is wise to let that guardian have some discretion with regard to the transfer of a boy from one master to another. The boy himself may not know the character of his master or the nature of his business, but his guardian, who will be of maturer years, would probably have better information on that. Therefore, I think the amendment ought to be accepted.
We are indulging in a certain amount of grandmotherly legislation here to protect people that, in the great majority of instances, hardly want protection at all. But as we have gone so far in that direction I think that this amendment of Senator Johnson's is necessary and desirable.
I think it would be necessary to add, after the word "guardian," in the amendment, the words "if any." If the boy's father or mother is alive there is, of course, a natural guardian, but in the case of most apprentices there would be no legal guardian. A guardian, for instance, can be appointed under a will.
I would assume that if the parent is alive he would be the guardian. I do not want to stand over the actual legal correctness of the phraseology in the amendment. I do not know whether as regards the wording of it there are any legal complications, but I do feel that if we are going to give power to the committee to transfer the benefits and obligations of one employer in regard to apprentices to another employer, these benefits being an obligation on the apprentice to serve that employer for a number of years, that should not be done at the behest of the committee. The apprentice, I submit, should be a party to it, and if he is only 15 years of age or so then his parents or guardian should be a party to it. That is all that I want to ensure.
The amendment is accepted in principle and subject to redrafting.
Amendment agreed to.
Section 12, as amended, agreed to.
Sections 13 to 21 inclusive agreed to.
I take it there will be a very long debate on Section 22 and in view of that perhaps the House would now agree to adjourn the further consideration of the Bill.
I indicated on the Second Reading that I would have certain amendments moved to this section. As a matter of fact I had certain amendments drafted, but owing to certain mishaps they did not arrive here in time. Senator Johnson has an amendment down to delete the section. If the House is agreeable what I would suggest is that the Bill be carried over as it is to the Report Stage and in the meantime I will have the amendments that I propose moving circulated.
I would just like to indicate to the Seanad the modifications that I propose. In line 3 I want to strike out the word "whereby" and substitute the words "for the purpose either of preventing or obstructing or impeding"; to delete in line 5 the words "is prevented" and the word "or"; to delete in line 6 the words "obstructed or impeded in," and in line 9 to delete the word "twenty" and to substitute the word "ten."
The section, as amended, would then read:—
(1) Where any rules made by an apprenticeship committee under this Act are for the time being in force it shall not be lawful for any person to do any act or thing for the purpose either of preventing or obstructing or impeding an employer carrying on in the district of such committee the designated trade for which such committee is established from complying with such rules.
(2) If any person acts in contravention of this section he shall be guilty of an offence under this section and shall be liable on summary conviction thereof to a fine not exceeding ten pounds.
The effect of these amendments is to make it clear that the only penalty imposed will be on a person who does something for the definite purpose of obstructing an employer from carrying out his duties. I would like to have that amendment considered in contrast to Senator Johnson's suggestion that the whole section should be deleted. If the Seanad is agreeable, I would ask that the Bill be carried over as it stands to the Report Stage when this section can be fully considered.
As this is the only substantial amendment that the House has not come to a decision on I must ask to be recorded as voting against the section when it is put. I will not attempt, in view of the Minister's suggestion, to discuss it, but the section will have to be opposed on this Stage. We can then carry the Bill over to the Report Stage. I will not move any amendment to-day.
Question—"That Section 22 stand part of the Bill"—put and declared carried.
Senators Johnson, Farren and Foran recorded as dissenting.
The following amendment appears on the Order Paper in the name of Senator Connolly:
New section. Before Section 23 to insert a new section as follows:—
"23.—It shall not be lawful for any employer carrying on in the district of an apprenticeship committee the designated trade for which such committee is established to take or receive any fee, premium or other consideration in respect of the employment of any person by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district."
I would like to know from the Minister if he proposes to accept it?
No. This new section is an even more radical amendment with regard to premiums than the one that we discussed earlier and which, in fact, has been withdrawn. This amendment simply says that it shall not be lawful under any conditions for any premium to be paid. Any argument that has been used against a prohibition implied is surely to be taken as an argument against this explicit prohibition.
Seeing that the Minister insists on having the Bill based on voluntary co-operation I suppose it would be useless to insist on the amendment.
Amendment not moved.
Sections 23 to 38 inclusive, agreed to.
Schedule and Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Report Stage ordered for Wednesday, 2nd December, 1931.
The Seanad adjourned at 7 p.m. to Wednesday, 2nd December, at 3 p.m.