Apprenticeship Bill, 1930—Report Stage.

I beg to move amendment 1:—

Section 8, sub-section (1). After the word "wages" in line 19 to insert the words "for normal hours of work (exclusive of overtime)."

I pointed out on the Committee Stage that there was a risk that under paragraph (d), which fixes the maximum hours of work, exclusive of overtime, it is possible for an employer in a designated trade to employ his apprentices the maximum hours of work fixed by the regulations, to employ them continuously several days a week, and they would be unentitled to overtime. It was said that the work of apprentices would be regulated by the practices of journeymen in the business, but that is a mistake. It is, unfortunately, true that many establishments are manned by apprentices and such businesses could carry on with apprentices only, letting the journeymen or journeywomen, as these workers are called, clear away. In fact, it is quite possible within this section, under paragraph (d), for apprentices to be kept daily one or two hours over the maximum that would be fixed. The amendment is intended to be a kind of check upon that practice, if it were ever adopted.

The amendment seeks to achieve a minimum rate of wages per hour worked, so that if the wages to be fixed are for the normal hours of work there would be additional pay if the apprentices are working overtime.

The fact that there is an additional rate of pay for overtime work would act as a check upon the possibility of evasion of the regulations by calling the excessive hours overtime. If this amendment is carried I probably will not move amendment 2, notwithstanding my belief that it would be better that the words "exclusive of overtime" in paragraph (d) were deleted. If they are to be retained in paragraph (d) they ought to be inserted in paragraph (c), so that we could be sure there would be some kind of check upon a possible evasion of the regulations and, therefore, of the Act by calling working hours overtime if they exceed the maximum fixed by the regulations. It is an attempt to make the section watertight. I think it is subject to a very great leakage as it stands at present.

I am inclined to think the amendment really defeats its own object. Under the Bill, the Apprenticeship Committee has power to fix rates of wages and it can make special arrangements for overtime. As regards the Senator's two amendments, the first one provides for normal hours of work. That would exclude any provision for certain rates for overtime. Looking at the second amendment, if we are to take out the words "exclusive of overtime" we will also preclude the Committee from having any rates for overtime. This is, of course, very largely a voluntary Bill, and there are certain trades where overtime is more or less usual and where the Committee dealing with this thing will have to make provision for overtime. When you have the Committee you have both sides represented.

I believe that the words set out in these amendments rather limit the powers of the Committee under this Bill. There are certain trades where overtime is not usual, but where any specific provisions for overtime would be undesirable and would work against the apprentices. There are certain trades I know something about where it is necessary for a small amount of extra time to be worked at Christmas, and where reasonable employers—and they still exist—are enabled to give a very considerable concession here and there to their assistants in the way of hours, which they will be paid for. Facilities can be given them at times when there is not the same large volume of business. There are many trades in which a fixed rate for overtime would militate against the employee, not necessarily against the employer.

I would be inclined to agree with Senator Douglas's construction of the amendment. I think the mover of the amendment might reconsider the position in the light of what has been said. No doubt he has thought out the amendment and has formed some opinion as to what its effect will be. To a person not very fully acquainted with the matter, and looking at it with a perfectly unbiassed mind, I am of the opinion that the proper construction of the amendment is the construction which has been put upon it by Senator Douglas.

[Senator Counihan took the Chair.]

I do not know what the effect of the amendment is going to be. I did gather from the Senator on the Committee Stage that he was apprehensive that there might be overtime in excess worked. I do not think that he is going to stop that by this amendment unless his aim is that by the use of the words "normal hours of work (exclusive of overtime)" overtime rates can only be struck on some basis other than hours test. If that is the case, then his amendment is completely unacceptable. To avoid such a construction I think the amendment had better be considered as phrased "over a normal working week, exclusive of overtime." I do not know that the fears the Senators gave expression to in Committee are very real. The only point that can be dealt with in this Bill is overtime hours worked at certain rates by apprentices. It is inconceivable to me that any factory owner is going to keep apprentices working excessive overtime hours if the main bulk of the workers in the factory are not also to be kept working.

The big majority in some factories are apprentices.

By the extension of the term "learners," that might apply in some factories, but they would be very few. But surely that is going to be a matter for the general body of employees who will be apprentices to meet that situation? I do not think there is such a danger as the Senator seems to apprehend. I rather think, on the other consideration, that paragraph (c) is very clearly open to the interpretation that has been put upon it by Senator Douglas and Senator Comyn. There is no prohibition of these minimum rates being split up into minimum rates for normal hours and rates for overtime hours. That would be a matter for the Committee to decide on. The Minister would have to consider afterwards whether in circumstances in each case he would confirm the decision of the Committee. I do not think the apprehensions expressed have been put before us in a sufficiently strong way to have the scheme of the Act interrupted at this moment. An amendment may slip through here which would have the effect of ruling out overtime. If it does it is going to mean that a certain number of trades that might otherwise come inside the apprenticeship code will not come in. By doing that you will be limiting the number of trades brought under the scope of an otherwise good Bill.

If the sub-section is amended on the lines Senator Johnson proposes it is perfectly clear it will mean what Senator Douglas has said, that the Committee could fix minimum rates of wages for ordinary time but not for overtime.

From the beginning I have never been satisfied with the method of treatment that I have followed in this amendment; that it was going to do the work I wanted to be done. My trouble is that there is a real danger of the purpose of this section being defeated in regard to maximum hours of work. The object of the amendment is to try to minimise that danger. The Minister has hinted, I cannot say that he has done more than that, that it would be within the power of the Committee to make minimum rates of wages for apprentices over the normal working week and to make another rate of wages so as to indicate that there shall be wages paid for every hour worked as overtime. If there was any assurance that that was likely to be done, that there was to be a wage standard and we had the rules before us, that would meet the purpose I am seeking in this amendment. The next paragraph which has to be thought of in reference to this is likely to be evaded. I put this to the Minister: that you have in a particular trade a body of employers and a body of workers who are agreed upon certain rates of wages and maximum hours. In the Apprenticeship Committee they agree upon a certain scale which the Minister confirms. In that particular trade these rules become law. But even in that trade there are some employers who want to stretch their liberties as far as possible. I had an instance related to me last night of a particular trade in respect of which I would expect an Apprenticeship Committee to be set up. In that trade there are two journeymen and fourteen apprentices. The business is run by apprentices. The maximum hours may be fixed. These may be the maximum hours fixed and worked by the factory, but the apprentices work overtime. In that way they defeat the Bill the apprentices working overtime at the minimum rate of wages fixed by the rules. That is the kind of case that I wish to see met. I cannot see that it is met by the Bill as it stands, and I am not so sure that my own amendment meets it.

It defeats it.

Unfortunately I am not able to see any better way unless we are able to do something on the next amendment to meet it.

My contention is that this makes it impossible.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

I move amendment 2. Section 8 (1). To delete in line 23 the words "(exclusive of overtime)."

This amendment was put down because of the fear that the previous amendment would not meet the case and would not be accepted. Having regard to what I have said, I feel that the insertion of these words in the Bill "exclusive of overtime" is going to make it possible for a firm such as I have just mentioned to defeat the intentions of the Act and the rules that will be made. This is the paragraph of the rules that deals with the maximum number of hours of work "exclusive of overtime." By the deletion of these three words we would have the rules fixing the maximum number of hours which may be worked in any week. That would allow apprentices to be worked five days in the week with five days overtime, provided they were allowed off-time for the sixth day. It would not destroy the intention regarding seasonal trades or cases in which there was a special rush of work so long as the maximum number of hours in the week did not prevail for the apprentices. In respect to the kind of establishment that Senator Douglas referred to, it is not run by apprentices, and will not be run by apprentices. The absence of the apprentices for these few hours would not militate against the activities of the business. But if these three words, "exclusive of overtime," are retained it would be within the power of any dissentient employer to work his apprentices any number of hours he wishes so far as this Act affects him, because he can call those hours overtime. I think it is quite a mistake for the Minister to feel sheltered by what he calls the practice of the business as a whole: that the number of hours worked by the regular workers will determine the number of hours to be worked by the apprentices. It is, unfortunately, true in a number of trades which one would expect to see coming within the provisions of this Bill—it is true of many establishments in these trades—that the majority of the workers are apprentices within the definitions in the Bill. Consequently, the section itself and the rules relating to the maximum number of hours worked will be defeated simply by calling the extra hours overtime.

I second the amendment. It would seem to me as if the position which Senator Johnson postulates might be met, perhaps, in another way by adjourning the Report Stage of this Bill and inserting words to this effect: "and also the maximum number of hours of overtime." I suggest that these words might be inserted before the words "which may be worked." I think if the paragraph were amended to read in that way it would be more expressive and give greater protection.

The paragraph, I presume, has been drawn by a draftsman who is not familiar with ordinary trade union agreements. As is well known, rates of pay, rates for overtime, the maximum number of hours and so on are all important factors in the case of trade union agreements. It is the present wording of the paragraph that is worrying Senator Johnson. I think that as it is worded there is cause for anxiety. If the amendment to the paragraph I have suggested were made, it would, I think, meet the position. I wonder would the Minister favourably consider my suggestion to have the Report Stage postponed so that an amendment on the lines I have indicated might be introduced.

I am inclined to think that the paragraph would be better without the words "exclusive of overtime." I am not certain, however, that that is going to meet possible difficulties. In the case of a Bill of this kind you cannot meet by way of legislation all the difficulties that are likely to arise. The wisest thing, in my opinion, would be to give the Committee the maximum amount of discretion. If the Minister were prepared to accept an amendment on the lines suggested by Senator O'Farrell I would not offer any objection to it. If he is not prepared to do that I just wish to put this point to him, that on the whole I think the words "exclusive of overtime," will in a sense be restrictive on the Committee. I think it would be better if you were to say that the Committee will have power to make rules in relation to the maximum number of hours and leave it there. It is not a great stretch of interpretation to say that the Committee can divide these hours into certain types of work. There is the danger that if you say "exclusive of overtime" that where you have a joint committee you will never be able to get agreement. Therefore, you may have considerably longer hours than are necessary because of the fact that there may be certain rush periods which will have to be met. If you say "exclusive of overtime" the result may be that you will have hours fixed which will include all hours, including what would be normal overtime. The words "exclusive of overtime" might have a restrictive effect on the Committee, and, so far as I can see, the more discretion you give the Committee the better.

The concluding words of paragraph (d) of Section 8 are: "but not so as to increase the maximum numbers of such hours appointed by or under any other enactment." That phrase throws the mind back to other enactments that have been passed dealing with the hours of labour both for ordinary work and overtime. I think the sub-section as it stands is really better than it would appear if the words in brackets, "exclusive of overtime," were struck out. I do not profess to be an authority on the question, and of course I would have the greatest possible respect for any views expressed from the Labour Benches. If they press the amendment I would be inclined to support them. I do not say that they ought to press it.

Again, I would like to narrow the discussion to the danger that might seriously be considered as being ahead of trades in connection with the operations of the Bill. Senator Johnson gave an example of a trade or trades. I think he said the majority of trades. He indicated that the conditions to which I am going to refer did hold for a big number of trades, where the apprentices were in a majority amongst the workers.

Not the majority of trades. I said that in some trades in the majority of establishments.

Then the Senator's point was that in the majority of establishments in the case of some trades apprentices are in a majority. The proportion in the one case he gave was fourteen apprentices to two workers. I did not gather from the Senator that he thought that should not be the proportion. If that should not be the proportion it would have to be met hereafter in sub-section (2) of Section 8.

It is optional?

It is optional. I am taking it that the condition to which the Senator referred holds in some establishments in certain trades. The position is that we are either to get these trades to come in under the Bill or they will remain out. If we get them in and if the majority in the trades are against that big disproportion as between apprentices and workers it can be met. The difficulty that the Senator sees might be met by the Committee exercising its option under sub-section (2). The Senator is here proposing to leave out the words "exclusive of overtime." Arising out of what Senator Douglas said, if you leave out the words "exclusive of overtime" you may throw the Committee back on this rule which must be made, and it may be that they must apply it by thinking of all hours, including overtime. To my mind, that will drive them to arrange such an enormous number of hours that it is going to have embarrassments and difficulties of its own. Senator Douglas made the point that by analogy with what is said under paragraph (c) (1), if you leave out the words "exclusive of overtime" it may be that the Committee will have power to split up and appoint maximum hours normal, and maximum hours overtime. I would have to consider that.

I suggested that would be a desirable thing.

Possibly. I would like to add another point to make it more desirable still. I have a difficulty in dealing with any analogy between paragraph (c) and paragraph (d). The normal practice with regard to paragraph (c) and with regard to paragraph (d), so far as the trade unions are concerned, differs. For instance, under paragraph (c) the situation is differently treated with regard to wages and hours. The usual practice at the moment is that you fix rates of wages for a normal working week, and you then fix overtime rates, but you do not fix a maximum number of overtime hours. You get after the overtime hours by making it too dear for the employer to keep workers at work for any lengthy period on overtime. If paragraph (c) could be read as we have discussed it here previously, that there must be rules made with regard to the minimum rates for the normal hours and minimum rates for overtime, I think there is a considerable lever in the hands of the Committee for dealing with this question of the prevention of excessive overtime in the case of apprentices. I think we have that position at present. If we are to go any further, and if it is possible to introduce an amendment of substance on the Report Stage—I am not sufficiently, familiar with the Standing Orders of the House to be able to say whether that is possible or not—then I suggest we adopt the proposal of Senator Douglas to leave in the words "exclusive of overtime" where they occur in paragraph (d) and put in the optional section that the Committee may make rules with regard to the maximum number of hours of overtime, but not imposing that on them as an obligation. A point of procedure arises there. I am not able to say whether it would be possible to do that on this stage.

With the permission of the Cathaoirleach, I think it would be in order to put in an amendment of substance on the Report Stage if the question at issue has not been sufficiently debated before. The Report Stage could be adjourned to enable that to be done. I respectfully submit that it has been our practice to do that.

If that procedure is permissible I would like to have a further opportunity of looking into paragraphs (c) and (d). If you put into the optional clause that the Committee may establish rates of wages for overtime, then I think you will have got to the position where the hours may be disregarded.

My suggestion is that the Bill should be recommitted in respect only to Section 8, so that we can deal with this matter. We can take now the other amendments on the Order Paper, and by consent agree to have the Bill recommitted for the purpose of dealing with Section 8.

I think it would be well if the discussion on the amendments to this section were treated as a discussion on Committee Stage without finishing this to-day.

What I suggest is that consideration of this amendment be postponed, take the other amendments on the Order Paper, and finish the Report Stage next Wednesday in so far as it applies to this section.

It is to be understood, of course, that it is only Section 8 of the Bill that will be recommitted for the purpose of dealing with this matter. If the whole Bill were to be recommitted it would be opening the way for a completely new set of amendments on the next day, and that is a thing that I do not think anyone desires.


The feeling of the House, I take it, is that the discussion on this amendment should be adjourned until the Cathaoirleach returns, and that we now proceed with the consideration of the other amendments on the Order Paper.


The following amendment appears on the Order Paper in my name:—

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 or received or prohibiting the taking or receiving of any fee, premium or other consideration in respect of the employment of a person by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade in the district of such committee.

This amendment is bound up with amendment No. 12, which is also in my name. This amendment of mine appeared on the Order Paper for the Committee Stage. After a good deal of discussion it was agreed that there should be an alteration made in it. The Minister has submitted an amendment to meet the first portion of my amendment. I am prepared to withdraw my amendment and to accept amendment No. 4, in the name of the Minister, on the condition that the Minister accepts my amendment No. 12. I think that was the understanding arrived at on the last day.

Senator Farren's amendments Nos. 3 and 12 must be taken together, and in opposition to them must be taken the two amendments in my name, Nos. 4 and 8. Senator Farren, even if he only got amendment No. 12, would be re-establishing the position that he tried to establish on the Committee Stage, because the position taken up there is that unless rules are made regarding the taking of premiums, then premiums are not allowable. In amendment 4 my proposal is that the Committee may make rules either prohibiting premiums or permitting the taking of premiums after fixing the amount. In amendment 8 I say that where premiums are prohibited then it is unlawful to take premiums, and where they are permitted it is only lawful to take them within the amount that has been allowed. That was what I promised to consider on the last stage. I am speaking now of amendments 4 and 8 in opposition to 3 and 12.

I think the House will be prepared to accept the Minister's amendments. They represent what was the general feeling of the House when we discussed this matter on the last stage.

I am prepared to accept amendments 4 and 8, in the name of the Minister, in substitution for my amendments 3 and 12. At the moment, I ask leave to withdraw amendment 3.

Amendment 3, by leave, withdrawn.


Amendment 4. Government amendment:—

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) either—

(i) prohibiting the taking of any fee, premium, or other consideration (in this Act referred to as an apprenticeship premium) in respect of the employment of a person by way of apprenticeship in such trade in such district, or

(ii) permitting the taking of an apprenticeship premium in respect of such employment and fixing the amount of such apprenticeship premium.

I second.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment 5:

Section 12. To delete the words "with the consent in writing of the apprentice or his guardian" inserted in Committee after the word "or" in line 48 and to substitute therefor the words "with the consent in writing of the apprentice or, if a minor, of his parent or guardian (if any)."

This matter was discussed on the last occasion. The Minister has submitted an alternative reading to my amendment. The spirit is the same, but I am not quite satisfied that the ages that the Minister has put down could meet the case. I have referred in my amendment to "the consent in writing of the apprentice or, if a minor, of his parent or guardian (if any)." I suppose a minor is less than twenty-one. I agree that perhaps a young man of eighteen is as competent to deal with this kind of a thing as a young man of twenty-one, but I am not prepared to say that the young man of sixteen is sufficiently conversant with the ways of the world and the liabilities he is entering on with a new employer. The Minister's amendment, where it refers to "the consent of, in case the apprentice has attained the age of sixteen years," states that in such case the assent of the apprentice is all that is required, and if he has not attained that age the parent must give his consent. I think the age of sixteen is too low to allow an apprentice to give his consent to be transferred from one employer to another. It seems to me that we ought to establish a higher age of consent for an apprentice in this matter. I would ask the Minister if he would be prepared to modify his amendment and put eighteen instead of sixteen. If he would do so I would be quite prepared to meet him on that point and move his amendment instead of my own.

I was going to make the same suggestion as Senator Johnson. I think eighteen would be reasonable. In the trade that I know something about many employers do not take apprentices in before the age of sixteen. We do not. I am inclined to think that eighteen would be reasonable. I think a minor of twenty-one would be absurd. I doubt if you could carry out anything of the kind, and I suggest that eighteen would be reasonable.

As you are going to recommit another section we might hold this point over. With regard to the proposed eighteen that we have here I want to see what are the repercussions on a certain position that has been achieved in the School Attendance Act, where the age is sixteen and where a certain freedom is given to the child once he has attained the age of sixteen. There is not very much to argue about. I want to get a comparison made with the School Attendance Act and the eighteen that is suggested.

While on that point, may I draw the attention of the Minister to a question which arises on this section with a view to getting his view upon it? Earlier in the evening, in dealing with another amendment, the Minister said that in the case of an employer, the majority of whose employees were apprentices, the matter was in the hands of the apprentices. I would like to have the Minister's reading of this section, which says that any apprentice entering employment by way of apprenticeship shall be deemed after the passing of the Act 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.

This is really a very important provision. The answer that the Minister gives will, undoubtedly, affect the working of this Act. Do I understand from the Minister that when an apprentice is taken on in a designated trade he will be deemed to have signed an agreement to serve a period and does that mean that the apprentice would be breaking the law if he leaves that employer or takes such steps as would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the employer to evade the provisions of that maximum hours' fear that I have? Is it under this section an obligation upon the employer, once he has taken into employment an apprentice, that there shall be continuous employment for the period that is fixed by the committee? Would the practice that prevails at present in certain industries be disallowed, that when times are slack learners are paid off for the slack period and re-employed when business gets busy, or are we to take it that under this section once an apprentice is taken on in a factory the obligation on either side is to remain in employment continuously for the period of the apprenticeship? It raises a very important point, and I would like to have the Minister's view upon the construction of the section.

Do I take the Senator to mean that he wants to have construed that part of Section 12 which states: "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"? If that is what he wants to have construed it is as plain as daylight that it does not mean that there must be continuous employment. The man's contract of apprenticeship would last through that period, but there may be breaks. There may be Sundays and periods of strikes. There may be periods when there would be no work done, but still the agreement goes on. The thing is as plain as daylight.

As we practically agreed to recommit Section 12, may I suggest that it is not much of an advantage to go on now?

[An Cathaoirleach resumed the Chair.]

Amendments 5, 6 and 7 held over.

I move amendment 8:

Before Section 22 to insert a new section as follows:—

22.—(1) Where rules regulating apprenticeship premiums made by an Apprenticeship Committee are for the time being in force the following provisions shall have effect, that is to say—

(a) if such rules prohibit the taking of an apprenticeship premium in respect of the employment of a person by way of apprenticeship in the designated trade for which such Committee is established in the district of such Committee, then it shall not be lawful for any person (in this section referred to as an employer) carrying on in such district such trade to take or receive in respect of such employment an apprenticeship premium, and

(b) if such rules permit the taking of an apprenticeship premium in respect of such employment, then it shall not be lawful for an employer to take or receive in respect of such employment an apprenticeship premium in excess of the apprenticeship premium fixed by such rules.

(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 prohibit the taking of any apprenticeship premium, a sum equal to the amount of the apprenticeship premium so taken or received and, in case rules regulating apprenticeship premiums made by such Committee permit the taking of an apprenticeship premium, a sum equal to the amount by which the apprenticeship premium so taken or received exceeds the apprenticeship premium fixed by such rules.

I second.

Amendment agreed to.

I move amendment 9:

Section 22. To delete the section.

From our point of view, this is the crucial clause in the Bill. As I said on the earlier stages, if this section is allowed to remain in it will be very difficult indeed for the trades unions to co-operate in the working of the Act. It obviously is directed—in fact it was openly stated in the Dáil that it was directed—against the possibility that the trades unions may, in the course of a trade dispute, interfere with the employer's right to employ an apprentice under the Act. That is to say, if a dispute occurs between trade unions and employers in a case, let us say, of a rule fixing the number of apprentices in a particular establishment, and if in the course of that trade dispute it were found desirable by the trade unions to urge that the apprentices should come out on strike and not assist the employer to defeat the workmen, they would be immediately amenable under this section, and every person who sought to influence the apprentice in that way would be liable to the penalty indicated in the section.

One who is familiar with trade union employment can visualise many occasions which might arise in the course of trade disputes whereby the provision within this section could be invoked to help to defeat the unions in the course of a dispute. I will just give one instance, a kind of thing that might well happen. You have provided in the Bill for district committees. In a particular occupation, let us say, in a particular district which is very badly organised from the trade union point of view, a committee is set up and certain rules are made. Probably some specific number of apprentices is allowed in respect of a particular establishment. That number of apprentices in that particular establishment is far in excess of the number under the rules in practice in other districts in that particular trade. As time passes the trade is better organised from the trade union's point of view and the employers are immediately approached in regard to the number of apprentices, or a strike may occur on quite different counts not affecting the number of apprentices at all. But in the course of the conduct of that strike the apprentices are invoked by the employer for the purpose of defeating the strike. The probability of this section being called into play where trade disputes arise is very great, and though I have no doubt the Minister will indicate difficulties or improbabilities of that kind we have very good reason to know that whatever the intentions of Acts of Parliament may be, the law courts can be induced to give decisions which were never contemplated by the framers of Acts of Parliament. We on these benches, speaking for the trade unions, whether local trade unions, craft unions, or the general unions of men and women workers, who are not craftsmen, and speaking for the unions not only in Dublin but throughout the country, can say that there is very great fear that this particular section has a certain deliberate purpose of making it difficult for a strike to be conducted by a trade union, and to make it easy for employers to use the apprentices for the purpose of defeating the trade unionists on strike. The fact that that fear prevails, I personally fear, will mean that the trade unions will not co-operate in the working of this Act or the setting up of apprenticeship committees.

From the beginning the unions, and particularly the craft unions, have been rather anxious that there should be as much co-operation as possible for the purpose of making the experiment— the Minister undoubtedly has designated this whole scheme experimental —and of giving it a fair trial. They feel very resentful that on the Report Stage of the Bill in the Dáil this particular section was introduced with the speech that was made in introducing it by Deputy Good. The whole argument clearly aimed at the possibility of a dispute with the trade unions, and the consequences are that the unions are very unlikely to co-operate in the working of the Act. I therefore ask the House to agree to the deletion of the section. I may point out that there can be no prosecution of the employer for failing to carry out any rule unless with the sanction of the Minister. Equally, of course, there can be no prosecution of the workman for breaches of the Act without the sanction of the Minister. I am not sure whether that particular provision regarding prosecutions would apply to a breach of this section, but I see by Section 32 "Proceedings for an offence under this Act shall not be instituted except by or with the consent of the Minister or an authorised officer." I say for the reassurance of those who might be affected by the arguments of Deputy Good, in introducing this section, that there is no likelihood of any prosecution of an employer for failing to carry out any of the rules under the Act, without the consent of the Minister and, therefore, there is no necessity to retain in the Bill this particular section, which is clearly directed against trade union action in the conduct of trade disputes.

I second the amendment. I stated on the Second Reading Stage that, in my opinion, if this section was retained, trade unions, particularly craft unions, would refuse to co-operate under that section of the Bill. The Minister, on more than one occasion, stressed the point that this Bill asks for voluntary co-operation between employers and the workers in the designated trades for the purpose of carrying into effect the terms of this Bill. This Bill is the result of a Special Committee which was set up to consider and advise on this whole question of apprentices. The Committee that made the report never made any such recommendation as is contained in this particular section. The Bill as drafted did not contain this particular section. It was only on the Report Stage in the Dáil that an amendment was moved to put this new section into the Bill. I want to say frankly that we are well aware of the source from which it emanated.

We understand what it is intended to do. There is no misunderstanding about it. I say deliberately here that I have got into consultation with the representatives of most of the trades in the crafts since this Bill was first brought before the Seanad. I stated on my own authority on that occasion that if this section remained in the Bill I thought the trade unions concerned would not co-operate under it. I took the opportunity of consulting the representatives of the various trades in the craft industry, and I have their authority for saying that if this section remains in the Bill they will refuse to co-operate under it. I am making that statement definitely. This section means exactly this: In the old craft unions, particularly in the building industry, the members of the craft union had control of the apprentices. The apprentices became boy members of the trade unions and in most cases were indentured to the trade unions. An attempt is made in this section to give complete control of the apprentices to the employers. We are sufficiently wise, from our experience of many employers, to know that if they are allowed to get in apprentices in the proportion that would be allowed to them in this Bill, they would be used to the detriment of the workmen themselves, when trade disputes would take place. For that reason, I am stating definitely that if this section remains in the Bill the trade unions will not co-operate. I want to go further and say that this is the point of view of the trade unions. I have only got to say that the only member of the Government Party in the Dáil who carries a trade union card saw the danger signal and voted against his own Party on this particular amendment. That is a statement of fact. I think that ought clearly to bring home to the members of this House that the point of view of the trade unions is this: That it caused a man to vote against his own Party on a section like this. He saw the danger of it. They are perfectly satisfied that if this section remains in the Bill, so far as the craft unions are concerned the Bill will be a dead letter.

I desire to oppose this amendment. I do so for a great many reasons, one of them being the reason that has been put forward both by the proposer and the seconder of the amendment, the threat that they put forward that if this section is allowed to remain in the Bill the trade unions will refuse to co-operate in the working of it. As far as I can see, and I have been discussing this question with a number of members—it would be more correct to say that several members interested in trades through the country have been discussing it with me—I do not think, and they did not think that the country need have any fear if that threat was carried into effect. A great many of us do not believe that this Bill is going to be any help in creating what is badly wanted in this country, extra employment or extra industries. I have known a great many cases in which industries of every sort have been injured, hampered, and in some cases destroyed, by trade union action. I could name many cases. Knowing that, putting extra powers in the hands of trade unions to foment strikes and to injure the business of the country is a thing that I, for one, will always vote against, and I hope that this Seanad will not agree to the deletion of this section.

I am also opposed to this amendment, but not for the reason given by Senator Barrington, with which I have no sympathy whatever. I do not think that you ought to pass any amendment for the purpose of making this Act a failure. I am led to believe that the attitude taken by the two Labour Senators is rather unworthy of the attitude they have taken to this Bill as a whole. They have told us emphatically that the section means a certain thing, and that the trade unions will not work the Bill which, I think, is a rather unfortunate method of approaching the matter. I have tried to read this amendment as carefully as I could, and I have read it with reference to the improved wording which the Minister suggests in the following amendment and, frankly, I cannot see in this section anything like what has been suggested by either of the two Labour Senators who have spoken. I think they are so much afraid of the source from which it emanated in the Dáil that they are not able to take this thing purely and solely on its own merits.

We had dealings with them, you had not.

There is no reason why this should not be examined entirely on its merits. I am quite satisfied that there is no desire on the part of employers of trade unionists, who are interested in this Bill, to see a provision of this Bill used on either side of a strike. It is just as important that it should not be used for the purpose of injuring a trade union in a bona fide strike, as that it should not be used for the purpose of injuring or hampering an employer in the case of a bona fide strike. If this be used in either way there is a danger that it will defeat its own purpose. There is, in the Bill, provision by which an employer may be prosecuted subject, I know, to the consent of the Minister, and you have provisions by which an employee will be prosecuted if he breaks the rules made by the Committee. In this section you are providing if certain other persons do certain actions—I am taking the improved wording in the amendment—“for the purpose either of preventing or obstructing or impeding” they shall be guilty of an offence.

I suggest that any ordinary legal action that may be taken in connection with the strike is not for the purpose of preventing the employer carrying out this Act and could not be so held. If it should turn out in practice that the court did so hold—I do not believe that would be the case—I think it would be a matter for further Government action. To take the position that certain trade unions are afraid that the court may so rule is not, I think, a reasonable attitude. The amendment seeks to delete this section, which provides that it shall not be lawful for any person to do any act or thing which would prevent an employer carrying on a designated trade from complying with the rules of the Committee. I do not believe that the section could be used for the purpose of preventing any legal action in accordance with the law of the land. I agree entirely with Labour Senators that it is highly undesirable that it should be so used. I do not believe that that is the intention underlying the section, and I am perfectly certain the Government had not that intention.

If Senators will read the section in conjunction with subsequent amendments that are proposed to it, and which are the result of careful consideration following upon various points raised by Senators, I am sure they will agree with me. I urge those who speak on behalf of trade unions not to take an impossible attitude towards the Bill, not to adopt the attitude they are adopting until it has been so held.

I think the arguments on this section have been rather unfortunate.

Why does the Senator not tell the truth anyhow?

I am greatly surprised that a Senator of the experience and skill of Senator Farren should use here as an argument why we should vote in a particular way that organisations outside this Assembly will do a certain thing if we do not vote according as they desire. That sort of thing is inclined to prejudice judgment where judgment should be unprejudiced and where we should try to do the best thing in the interest of the country generally. A threat like that will not have the slightest influence upon me, and I hope it will not have any influence one way or the other upon any other Senator. Neither am I influenced by being told the source from which this Section 22 comes. We are considering this question, I hope, on its merits, without having any regard whatever to the source from which the section comes or to what any organisation outside this House may do in case we arrive at a certain conclusion.

I am dealing with Section 22 on its merits. I am of the opinion that it is an unnecessary section, and I urge the House to hold that it is an unnecessary and a provocative section, and, consequently, it ought to be rejected. I am voting for Senator Johnson's amendment, notwithstanding Senator Farren's advocacy of it. The section sets out: "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 whereby an employer carrying on in the district of such Committee the designated trade for which such Committee is established is prevented from or obstructed or impeded in complying with such rules."

The general law is strong enough to secure, and is perfectly fitted to secure, that the employer is not to be interfered with in dealing with his apprentices and in carrying out the rules which govern apprenticeship. If the general law is strong enough, why is this section introduced? The source of the section has been mentioned— a most distinguished member of the Dáil. I deprecate any reference to its source. I say that the section is unnecessary and it has provoked Senator Farren into an indiscretion.

Do not mind mine at all; look after your own indiscretions.

This is a matter that concerns me. I will not stand any threats from an outside organisation of any kind.

I do not know of any organisations that are issuing threats.

I am going to vote against the section on its merits. I think it is unnecessary and provocative.

I propose to argue against and not in favour of the section that is in the Bill. Rather will I argue in favour of the section with the amendments that will in due course be proposed. In order to make it quite clear what the section, with the amendments, will represent, I propose to read it in its amended form:—"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." May I segregate from it the important words: "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 from complying with such rules"? What rules? The rules that have been made by apprenticeship committees.

Let us see the framework of the Bill once more. How are these rules to be made? Only when the employers and employees in certain trades have agreed to have these trades designated, the rules will be made by bodies where employers and employees will be represented in equal numbers, with possibly three people from outside, and these rules have to be confirmed by the Minister. We propose, under these circumstances, to have a section setting out that it shall not be lawful for anybody to do any act or thing which will result in preventing an employer carrying out the rules.

There was a lot of talk about the source of emanation of this section. Senator Johnson has spoken of it as being directed against trade union action. If it can be proved that it is against legitimate trade union action, except in regard to apprenticeship conditions, then I will get the section wiped out. I would like, in passing, to say that I do not think the text of the speech of the mover of the resolution bears out that contention. I think he did say that it was to prevent trade union activity by way of a strike operating against the apprenticeship rules, operating directly and only for the purpose of preventing the apprenticeship rules. I think that is perfectly sound.

Senator Johnson gave examples, and I think there crept into his speech the idea that trade union activity of the strike type might have to be resorted to in order to get these rules changed. But the rules are subject to modification by the Committee. They may be repealed, amended or modified and there is the same representation on the Committee to get the rules further and better considered.

That is not provided in the Bill.

It is provided that the rules may be amended. It sets out that the Apprenticeship Committee may rescind, amend or add to any rules.

There is no provision in the Bill dealing with trade unions.

There is not in that form, but there is provision made for the representation of people who are representative of the workers in a particular business. Ordinarily speaking, we would apply to the trade union where there is such in existence and where they would be clearly the representative people. The Senator mentioned that he could see two types of cases in which this section would be an impediment. He spoke of the possibility of a strike happening and, in the course of that strike, people being called out, with the result that an employer would not be able to go on teaching the apprentices. That is ruled out by the terms of the amended section.

The Senator said that there might be cases in districts in the country where the number of apprentices allowed would be larger than the number allowed elsewhere and that that would happen in districts where trade unions were not organised. The implication of the speech was that the trade unions might in that district become better organised and might want to restrict the number of apprentices. They proposed to do it, not by getting the rules amended for the district, but by having a strike on that point. I consider in these circumstances only it is necessary to have the same sort of prohibition of impeding the employer in carrying out the rules as we have in the series of sections against the employer, from Section 13 to Section 20, including both. We have there a series of prohibitions.

Under Section 13, where any rules regulating the minimum rates of wages made by the Committee are in force, it is unlawful to pay other rates, and any employer who fails to comply with the section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to prosecution and fine. That is repeated in Section 14 with regard to the keeping of records relating to wages paid to apprentices; in Section 15 with regard to the employment of people above the maximum number of hours; in Section 16 with regard to the keeping of records of hours of work; in Section 17 with regard to the prohibition of people not possessing the prescribed educational qualifications, and so on. It is there provided that it is unlawful for the employer to do certain things, and there is a penalty involved if he should do them.

This section is clearly and definitely limited to trade union activity directed against the employer carrying out the regulations. I think that is right in the circumstances. The people represening the workers can look to the Committee to get the rules amended or modified. If they do not take that course and decide to take the course of trade union activity, then they ought to be penalised. On that point we have a threat that there is going to be no trade union co-operation. This Bill, it must be remembered, is based on a voluntary principle, and, of course, it is quite right for Senators with a trade union outlook to give us warning that there is less likelihood of trade union co-operation under certain circumstances.

What are the circumstances? Senators may argue that the section, as amended, is not clear and that you may have trade union activity with regard to wages. At the moment the section as it reads only prevents activity taken for the purpose of preventing an employer complying with the rules. I hold that that particular section should be there. Alternatively, and I think this reduces the Bill to an absurdity, let the Committee have power to make rules and cut out all these sections from 13 onwards which state that it shall not be lawful for an employer to do certain things; do not impose any penalties on employers, and then where is the Bill? It will really be nothing but a series of pious resolutions, and will have no force. You will have people on the Committee carrying out their work, but the moment a contract is made the whole thing can be discarded. That reduces the Bill to an absurdity.

A lot of people complain that there is no compulsion in this Bill. It is compulsory in the sense that people should keep their agreements. If you adopt the other course which I have outlined you reduce the Bill entirely to a farce. Senator O'Farrell said that under this Bill an employer would enter into complete control of the apprentice. He may under certain conditions which have been agreed to as between the employer and the employee. There is better provision for the apprentice in the matter of teaching and training than ever there was before. To say that the employer enters into complete control of the apprentice is really a misreading of the whole scheme. Section 22 means only that an employer will not be prevented from carrying out his obligations towards apprentices by reason of trade union activity directed definitely and clearly against that point.

That is not in the section.

I am arguing on the amended section, and if Senator Farren says that the amended section removes his doubts about the old section then we will have advanced to a certain point.

There is a considerable difference in the section with your amendments.

I agree with Senator Douglas that there may be apprehension on two points. The Minister has to approve of prosecutions before they are taken. The implication in Senator Johnson's speech was that you could rely on the Minister holding up a prosecution against an employer.

That was not my point.

The Senator raised the point that the Minister stood between. Then cut out the Minister altogether.

I did not suggest any thing in the way the Minister now relates. I pointed out that where an employer was obviously prevented from carrying out the provisions of the Act by virtue of strike action, the Minister's consent to a prosecution in such a case might be withheld.

The Senator also mentioned that the Minister can preclude prosecution where he is not satisfied that the trade union activity is directed against the employer so as to prevent him from carrying out his obligations under the apprenticeship scheme. The Minister has a discretion with regard to both. If the employer is protected from unjust action, surely the employee is protected under this section where the Minister is put in as a barrier? The other point that Senator Douglas mentioned remains. This House has shown that it is anxious to amend legislation where it is clear the legislation is warped by court judgment away from the original intention. It is not a difficult matter to get an amending Bill put through. If it did happen that a prosecution passing the Minister did distort the obvious intention of the Oireachtas, there would be clearly a call for Government action by way of amendment. I hold there is no case made that this section should not be passed and there is no serious case made that the apprehensions of the two Senators are real. It is but right that we should have a prohibition in the other case just as we have against the employer in many sections.

Following the last remarks of the Minister, I would like to remind him and the House of the probabilities. All the signs are that the point of view expressed by Senator Barrington here to-day and a Deputy in the Dáil yesterday are likely to dominate the legislature of this country at some future time. To rely, as the Minister asks us, upon the good-will, the sense of justice, of a legislature dominated by the spirit which was given expression to by Senator Barrington is not a very good thing.

Would the Senator say by Senator Barrington alone?

Senator Barrington to-day and Deputy McDonogh yesterday. That was an expression of a growing reaction throughout this country, a general growing reactionary spirit, and I think it is going to find expression in legislation. Whether that is so or not, I am not prepared to rely upon Parliaments elected by a majority of farmers to safeguard the interest of trade unionists. It may be argued that there is a certain appearance of logic and equity in this section, because it says on the one hand you have penalties prescribed for employers and on the other hand you ought to have penalties prescribed for trade unions. We have been forced to look upon these things as they actually have occurred, the way legislation of this kind has occurred in relation to trade disputes and combinations of workmen, and there has been a very gradual and steady process towards the amount of freedom for combination and strike action that has been secured to-day. There has been, too, a fairly persistent attempt to obstruct and impede trade unions in that work.

I will draw attention to this kind of case. You have the proposition that apprenticeship committees shall make rules relating to the number of apprentices employed by a particular establishment. That is an optional provision. Committees may make such rules and they may not. If they do not make such rules you will have an establishment, as I instanced earlier, employing 14 apprentices and 2 journeymen, more apprentices than adult workers. In one or two establishments in an industry that kind of thing may happen. There is a strike, let us say, in that industry, and in order to make the strike action appear to be directed fairly against all the employers who are in that industry it may be necessary to impede the employment of those apprentices. The apprentice has agreed under Section 12 to work for that employer for the period of the apprenticeship. Let us say the firm has three times the number of apprentices that the unions think should reasonably be employed in that industry. They take action by way of a strike. Because they know that the apprentices are being used to defeat the strike, as the employers in the industry are using that particular establishment to turn out goods against which the workers are fighting, the members of the union take action to try to break the contract, if you like, of apprenticeship. Every man engaged in that operation is liable to the penalty of £20 or £10 as the case may be.

That is the real danger, and the unions realise it to be a real danger. It is because they do so realise it that they feel it is a blot upon the Bill and vitiates its hopeful prospect. There are quite a number of things in this Bill that the unions are very dubious about, but they are hopeful that on the whole the Bill will be valuable and helpful in the general working of the apprenticeship system to meet modern conditions. What has been said here may have been described as a threat, but I do not think it is fair so to describe it. It is an indication that the co-operation sought, hoped for and expected is not likely to be available while this vital but obnoxious clause, vital to the trade unions, is retained in the Bill. The Minister is insisting upon it in its amended form. We have merely indicated the feeling of the trade unions in regard to it, and we say that if it had been put in in the early stages of the Bill there would have been fierce opposition from the very beginning.

Amendment declared lost.


Government amendment 10:

Section 22, sub-section (1). To delete in line 3 the word "whereby" and to substitute therefor 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"; and to delete in line 6 the words "obstructed or impeded in."

I second.

This is to put the section in the form in which I read it.

Amendment agreed to.


Government amendment 11:

Section 22, sub-section (2). To delete in line 9 the word "twenty" and to substitute therefor the word "ten."

I second.

This reduces the penalty from twenty pounds to ten pounds.

Amendment agreed to.
Amendment 12 not moved.


This Bill can be recommitted without notice in accordance with the wish of Senators when we meet next week if this course then appears desirable.

Further consideration postponed.