Land Purchase (Guarantee Fund) Bill, 1935—Committee of Privileges. - Conditions of Employment Bill, 1935—Committee (Resumed).
Section 41 and 42 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
I move amendment No. 42:—
New section. Before Section 43 to insert a new section as follows:—
43.—Every employer who employs any adult worker or young person to do for him any form of industrial work shall whenever and on every occasion on which he permits such adult worker or young person to work overtime enter in the prescribed register the prescribed particulars concerning the overtime employment of such adult worker or young person.
The Bill provides that employers are not entitled to have their employees working more than a prescribed number of hours without getting permission to allow them to work overtime. We think it desirable, in the interest of everybody concerned, that, where overtime is worked, it should be entered in a register kept for the purpose and that the register should be open to inspection whenever required.
Supplementing what Senator Farren has said, there are provisions in the Bill regarding the amount of permitted overtime—weekly, monthly or yearly—but there is no provision made to ensure that a record shall be kept of the number of hours worked. Consequently, some kind of register is necessary. In the larger establishments, the ordinary time-sheets are kept. In many small establishments, it is questionable whether such time records are kept. Where regular time records are kept, it may be provided under this section that they be kept in a prescribed form. Where time sheets are kept, a check is available on the amount of overtime worked, but unless some such provision as this is inserted there is no assurance that time records will be kept, and if time records are not kept there will be no check on the amount of overtime worked. It seems to me that some amendment of this kind is essential to the proper working of the Act.
I do not object on principle to the idea. Obviously, there ought to be records, but I understood that the Minister has power to provide that records be kept in specific forms suitable to the different trades. I do not see how you could enforce provisions with regard to overtime if there were no records. The same records, however, will not be suitable in every case and I am not sure that an omnibus clause is the best form of clause.
It seems to me that sub-section (2) of Section 42 is intended to meet such a case as Senator Farren has put forward. Surely the Minister could attach to any licence he gives a condition with regard to a time record which would enable him to see whether he should continue the licence or not.
It is, undoubtedly, correct that to enable the overtime provisions of the Bill to be enforced a record will have to be kept by each employer whose employees work overtime but, as Senator Douglas has pointed out, different conditions may apply in different trades. Furthermore, the amendment moved by Senator Farren is incomplete. A more elaborate provision would have to be embodied in the Bill if the obligation to keep such a record were to be imposed under that section of the Bill. Under Section 64, power is taken to prescribe and require the keeping of whatever records are necessary to enable any of the provisions of the Bill to be enforced. It is under that section I propose to make regulations prescribing the records to be kept of overtime worked by employees so as to ensure that there will be adequate means of enforcing the provisions of the Bill.
If it is the intention of the Minister to ensure, by regulation, that a register will be kept in suitable form, we do not want to impose the same register on every industry. All we want is to provide that some such register should be kept.
I agree that it is essential that such a record should be kept.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Section 43 ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(1) It shall not be lawful for an employer to employ a worker to do any form of industrial work on any day on which such worker has done any form of industrial work for another employer, except where the aggregate of the periods for which such worker does industrial work for each of such employers respectively on that day does not exceed the period (exclusive of overtime) for which such worker could lawfully be employed to do industrial work for one employer on that day.
(2) Whenever an employer employs a worker in contravention of this section, such employer shall be guilty of an offence under this section and such worker shall also be guilty of an offence under this section.
I move amendment No. 43:—
Section 44. To add at the end of the section a new sub-section as follows:—
(3) It shall be a good defence to any proceeding taken against any employer for a breach of the provisions of this section if such employer proves to the satisfaction of the court that he took reasonable care to ascertain the facts and that he did not knowingly permit a worker to work overtime.
I place some importance on this amendment, either in its present form or submitted in some other way. The section makes it an offence for an employer to employ a person for the excessive hours provided in the Bill, if the other hours have been worked for another employer. I do not object to that, because the Bill would be a farce if there were not some such provision; but it seems to me that either the word "knowingly" should be put in, or preferably an amendment such as I have put down. The employer who works a man who has been employed by another employer must get his information from the worker himself or from the other employer. He cannot have his staff watching another employer to see if the man has been employed there. His action must depend on information supplied to him and I think this amendment of mine is the proper way of dealing with the matter.
I think it was suggested in the Dáil that the word "knowingly" might be put in. I recognise that if you simply put the word "knowingly" in there would be no obligation on the employer to make all the inquiries necessary, but my amendment provides that it shall be a good defence that the employer did make inquiries and got wrong information.
I beg to draw attention to one observation of the Senator who moved this amendment—that it is an important amendment. In my opinion, it is one that should not commend itself to the House, and I submit that on a little reflection most Senators will agree with me. In the case of a large employer, who employs managers or clerks of work to superintend the employees, this section would always let him out, because the large employer's knowledge would be the knowledge of the person in immediate contact with the worker who would be acting in contravention of the spirit of the section. In the case of the small employer, he probably might be caught. The suggestion is that except you can prove that the employer, the man at the top, who employs quite a number of people, was aware of the circumstances, he could not be held guilty. If the employer can prove that he did not know, as the work was supervised by his manager or clerk of works, then he is out every time.
I agree that this is an important section for the workers, and I think that this amendment should be rejected by those of us in the House who are in sympathy with the objects of the Bill, which aim at alleviating to some extent the conditions of employment of the workers. I have taken the liberty of calling the attention of the House to this amendment, because of the elementary principle that no employer is criminally liable for what his manager or clerk of works does. Therefore, if you put these words in, you could not convict an employer in any case where he had a manager or clerk of works over his employees. It is a most important section, requiring every attention, and, in the circumstances, I think this amendment should be rejected by anybody who has any sympathy with the workers and their treatment in a reasonable and humane way, as is contemplated in the Bill.
It is difficult to understand the latter portion of this suggested addition to Section 44. The object of the section is that an employer would not engage a person to do industrial work unless he is satisfied that person has not worked the maximum number of hours specified in the Bill. In Senator Douglas's amendment, by some peculiar process he brings in the question of overtime—"and that he did not knowingly permit a worker to work overtime." I fail to see where that comes in in the section, which is really concerned with the prohibition of double employment. I endorse what has been said by Senator Lynch as regards relieving the employer of the responsibility. We all know that in most cases when a person is employed, particularly in large firms, it is not the employer who employs that person; it is the employer's servants, the manager or the foreman. If this suggested addition were accepted, it allows the loophole that any employer who wants to get rid of his responsibility can say "So far as I am concerned, I have no knowledge that this man was employed; the first I heard of it was that my foreman or manager engaged him." I think the House ought to reject the suggested addition.
I think the amendment would make the condition worse, from the point of view of the employer, than the Bill itself. I would like to know what is the true construction of Section 44 as it stands. Is it necessary for the prosecution to show that the employer had intent? Under the section, would it not be sufficient for him to show that he exercised reasonable care and was not aware that the employee had worked the number of hours specified in the Bill? I think that so far as the employers are concerned, their position under the section is much better than would be their position under the amendment.
I think possibly Senator Kennedy has found a flaw in the wording of the amendment; perhaps I got a little bit mixed up about overtime. I think, however, his criticism of my amendment is unfair. I have tried to avoid the very thing which he criticises the amendment for, and if it is not clear in the amendment, it should be possible to make it clear. I want to make it clear that if an employer proves, not that he did not know, because that is not sufficient, but that he took what the court would regard as proper steps to find out the facts and he got wrong information supplied to him, he should not be guilty of an offence. Senator Comyn believes that would be the effect of the section as it stands. Another lawyer told me it would not, and lawyers on two sides are always the trouble of my life. They caused an enormous amount of trouble on another occasion by their disagreement. Assuming that to be the effect of the section, what is the objection if it is made clear beyond doubt that it is? The reason I did not do as was first suggested to me, simply to insert the words "that he did not knowingly do so," was because I thought that would be open to the criticism of Senator Kennedy. When you say it will be a good defence if the employer proves he took all reasonable steps to ascertain the facts, that means that if another employer or worker gives him wrong information, that employer would not be responsible. That is what I am trying to achieve. I quite admit that the amendment might need re-drafting.
In order to analyse this section and amendment, I would like the House to consider one question. Suppose a workman who had a good character and whom the employer had always found to be a useful man, came to his employer and said: "I have worked only 20 hours for the past three weeks," and suppose the employer believed him, and the employer's manager confirmed that, would that be a good defence for an employer under this section? I think it would.
This section deals with any form of industrial work done on any day. If a certain number of hours have been worked on that day, and if an employer employs the workman for another number of hours on that same day when the full hours have already been worked, then it is an offence. Senator Douglas has admitted the faulty construction of this suggested sub-section, but I would draw his attention to the phraseology "if such employer proves to the satisfaction of the court that he took reasonable care to ascertain the facts". In the instances quoted by Senators Kennedy and Lynch, the employer, who is the man to be prosecuted, does not ascertain any facts, but simply employs his foreman to take on such employees as he wishes.
The principle is that the employer who would be the person prosecuted would be responsible for the acts of his foreman. If you prosecute an employer, and he pleads that he had taken care to ascertain the facts, that would exonerate him under the new sub-section. There is another feature that is still more important. This is not a new principle. Senator Douglas knows, or he would be aware of it if he looked the matter up, that the Shop Acts legislation embodies the same principle. A shop assistant, who is also a dressmaker, for instance, cannot be taken on to do long periods of work after the ordinary hours when the shop is closed, and the working hours are finished. That makes the shopkeeper responsible for keeping workers on doing additional work and that principle is already embodied in legislation.
I think it is no harm to try to get a clear view of the circumstances with which this section of the Bill is designed to deal. Both employers' organisations and workers' organisations represented that a practice had developed in certain areas of workers, and particularly skilled workers, when they had finished their normal day's work on behalf of their employer, taking on occasional work for householders and others, to the detriment not only of employers in that industry but of workers in that industry also. It was the intention, in a Bill designed to limit the working day, that that thing should be prohibited. It was designed to provide that the aggregate work done by any worker should not exceed a permitted maximum. Therefore this section was inserted in order to make it unlawful for an employer to employ a worker, or for a worker to work for his own or another employer in excess of the maximum hours. An amendment was moved in the Dáil to provide that it should not be an offence for an employer unless he actually knew that the worker had worked a certain number of hours and that the total of his work exceeded the permitted maximum. I resisted that because it would impose upon the prosecutor the obligation of showing that it was done knowingly, and, consequently, it would open up avenues of evasion that were not desirable. At the same time I think it would be a good defence for the employer to say that he made all reasonable enquiries and did not know. If that is so I think it is better to leave the Bill as it stands. Although I see no objection in principle to the amendment, I think it is not necessary to have it in the Bill because the principle of it is there already, and taking into account the further fact that prosecutions, by inspectors, will not be proceeded with unless there is good ground to believe that there were mala fides in the matter, I think there is a double safeguard for the employer, in such circumstances as the probability is that he will not be prosecuted unless the Department reasonably believes that he was knowingly breaking the law, and, the further fact, that the courts who are always inclined to lean against the Department, will be inclined to take a favourable view of the person prosecuted. The amendment if inserted might really cause more difficulty than good, and might well result in the general provisions being more stringent against the employer.
The Minister said that the purport of the amendment was embodied in the section. I have scanned the section very closely and cannot find any indication of that kind in it.
Perhaps I should not have said that, but I think it is a fact that it would be a good defence to the employer if prosecuted.
Where is the provision to the effect that that is a good defence? If it is not here in the section, I am afraid the implication, or inference, would not be considered a matter that would be effective in a case for prosecution. If the Minister admits that the idea embodied in this amendment is good, which means that a plea based upon that would be a good defence, he would give it more reality by putting it in the Bill, than by merely giving expression to an idea to that effect.
I think this is the ordinary form when dealing with such an offence. Another Act says it is an offence to ride a bicycle without a bell. If a person was prosecuted for not using his bell, I think it would be a good defence if he said he was quite surprised to find it would not work, because upon the last occasion he used it it worked quite well. I think that would be taken as a good defence.
I must say I do not quite understand the Minister's argument. I think he ought to accept the amendment. We are legislating here after all, although it may be our last opportunity for improving legislation. The Minister says it would be a bad plan to alter the section although he thinks the principle in the amendment is right, but it is no answer to say that a court would hold it as a good defence. The Minister is not a court. He is only putting up a hypothesis. Time and again you hear a judge say: "I am here to administer the law." The judge administers it although he may not like it, and although he may think it a very hard case. I think the Minister might accept the amendment or else bring in one of his own to the same effect.
I have said already I have no very considerable objection to the amendment and that I accept the principle of it.
When I was a young man I had a bicycle lamp and it went out on one occasion when I was using it. I was stopped by a constable and I told him that it had only just gone out. I asked him to put his hand on the lamp and he could feel that it was hot. The policeman did put his hand on the lamp and got burned. When I went to court the magistrate laughed at the notion of the burned hand but he told me to pay a 1/-. I should be glad if the Minister would allow me to make further inquiries as to whether the section as it stands embodies the intention of the amendment. If I learn it does not, I will communicate with the Minister so that if there is serious doubt he might consider the idea of accepting the amendment in a redrafted form. If I can show the Minister that there is really a case, perhaps he would help me in getting something in redrafted form which I could bring up on Report State.
If that course is adopted I would like some safeguard that any revision of this suggested amendment will at least ensure that those responsible to the employer will be amenable to the law even though he may find a good defence.
I agree that any amendment should make an employer responsible for his servant.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 44 to 47, inclusive, ordered to stand part of the Bill.
(3) Save as otherwise provided by this section every employer who employs workers to do industrial work in any industrial undertaking shall fix the interval at the same time for such workers and shall not permit any such industrial work to be carried on during such interval.
I move amendment No. 44:—
Section 48, sub-section (3). To add at the end of the sub-section the words: "Provided that where the industrial work is carried on in more than one premises, the employer may fix a different interval for the workers in each of such premises".
I had a little difficulty with regard to this amendment. As far as I can read the definition of an industrial undertaking, it might include a factory in Dublin, one in Galway, one in Cork and various other places. It seems to me that an industrial undertaking could include more than one factory, and you might have an undertaking in which different classes of work would be carried on. It seems to me that the purpose the Government have in view is that all the employees should have their meal hour at the one time provided the work was carried on in one premises. I am not sure that the word "premises" offers the best definition. What I have in mind is a case where you might have one factory in Drogheda and another in Dublin. The meal hour in Dublin would be, say, from 1 to 2 and in Drogheda from 1.30 to 2.30, but my reading of the section is that the undertaking must have the same meal hour for all workers in all their factories. That is, I think, a mistake. Representations have been made by one firm that it has a number of people at work in one place in Dublin. There are two buildings in the case of this undertaking and I believe they are fairly well divided. In the case of one building it would be necessary to leave some of the workers on at meal time owing to the continuous nature of the work, but in the case of the other premises there would be no difficulty whatever in having the same meal hour for all workers. Generally speaking, all workers have their meal hour at the one time, but there are some traders where that is not possible. The Minister takes power to deal with that but I want to provide that where the premises are quite distinct, all the workers need not have the same meal hour provided the workers in the same premises have the same meal hour. If the Minister would look into the amendment I would be satisfied to leave it over to Report Stage.
I have no objection to the amendment if it is necessary. I should, however, point out, to correct one statement made by Senator Douglas, that where work is done on continuous process this section does not apply. It only applies to ordinary day work and not to continuous process industries. In so far as there is any doubt that different intervals can be fixed for meal hours in respect to workers employed in different premises, I am prepared to see if that doubt can be removed.
I think there is a doubt but, if the Minister is prepared to look into the matter, I am prepared to withdraw the amendment until the Report Stage. Supposing you had a textile factory in which you had, say, 300 or 400 workers doing weaving. There would be no difficulty in having the same meal time for these workers, but then there might be, say, 50 workers doing finishing in a separate shed. I do not know whether finishing is, strictly speaking, a continuous process but it is of the nature that if you start finishing a piece and you stop in the middle of the work, you spoil it. In other words, it is not practicable to have the same meal time for all the workers. Could the Minister make an exception in regard to a certain number of these workers?
I am aware that there are certain forms of work in which it might not be possible to apply the principle, but there is power to exclude these forms of work from the operation of that sub-section.
Even though it is part of the one undertaking?
Amendment adjourned to Report Stage.
Amendment No. 45 deals with the same point. I do not think it will be necessary to move it but I should prefer to have it also left over to the Report Stage.
Amendment adjourned to Report Stage.
I move amendment No. 46:—
Section 48, sub-section (6). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—
(6) Any employer who permits a worker to whom this Act applies to remain in a room in which any form of industrial work is carried on during any part of the time allowed for meals shall be guilty of an offence under this Act.
The object of putting down this amendment is to ensure that the same regulation as exists under the Factory and Workshops Act will be included in this Bill. I do not think there is any need to elaborate the necessity for that. It is very much the same provision as is included in the Factory and Workshops Act. It is very desirable to ensure that when people are having their meals, there will be no work carried on. I do not think the Minister will oppose the amendment.
It does not arise under this Bill. We shall be bringing in next year an Act to codify the Factories and Workshops Acts and it will deal with the provision of mess rooms. It is really in that connection that this provision arises.
The Minister states that an Act will be introduced some time next year to deal with this matter, but we do not know at what period next year. There may be a rush of legislation next year, and it may be the following year before the Bill is introduced. We are repealing the Act which makes this provision. If the Minister could say that he would permit this provision to continue until he can deal with the matter in the forthcoming Bill, that would be satisfactory. In the meantime, there may be an interval of one, two or even three years. If the Bill goes through in its present form, this provision in the existing Act will be repealed and there will be nothing to replace it.
I do not know whether this is taken bodily from another Act, but it seems to me it has a peculiar kind of wording:
"Any employer who permits a worker to whom this Act applies to remain in a room in which any form of industrial work is carried on during any part of the time allowed for meals shall be guilty of an offence under this Act."
Is it the industrial work that is carried on during any part of the time?
It means what is in the amendment. Is that not clear?
It is taken from another Act.
I think it would read better if it were expressed in this way —"to remain in a room, in which any form of industrial work is carried on, during the meal hour."
It means that if the wheels are going they cannot be in the room.
It does not mean that. This is another instance of a lawyer talking about industrial affairs.
Is this a paraphrase of it, that an employer who permits a worker to whom this Act applies to remain in a room in which any form of industrial work is carried on during meal hours is guilty of an offence? I think two meanings can be read into that amendment and that it wants clarification.
I agree. The same thought struck me when this amendment was being put down, but it is taken word for word from an existing Act.
Might I point out in reply to Senator Johnson's observations that the provisions of the existing Act which relates only to certain processes are not being repealed and will not be repealed until they are revised in the forthcoming codifying Act. The provisions of the existing Act, which prohibit the taking of meals in the same room where work is carried on, at present only applies to particular forms of work.
On that point, I am somewhat confused with regard to the exact meaning of this amendment. Supposing a factory is erected at a place which is some considerable distance from the workers' homes and that they take their meals in the factory, as in some cases they have found it convenient, is it perfectly clear that they can do that under this section?
Under the present law the taking of meals in a room where industrial work is being done is prohibited in respect of certain forms of work. Whether that requirement will be extended to cover other or all forms of work is a matter that will arise for decision in connection with the Factory and Workshops Bill which is to be introduced shortly and not in connection with this Bill. But that is properly a matter that relates to health and hygiene rather than to employment.
I am afraid I spoke too quickly. It was on Section 48 that I had intended speaking. I will state my point in a moment when we come to that.
In Section 33, paragraph (1) of the existing Act, this is provided for, but that enactment is repealed. If that is so, then Senator Johnson's case stands.
I will look into the point. But I want to assure the Senator that it is not properly a matter for this Bill at all.
As the law stands at present, the worker cannot take his meals while the work is actually being done in a factory or workshop. Now, if you have fifty people employed in a workshop, twelve of them cannot sit down and take their meal or lunch while any portion of the work is being performed——
Oh, I could not accept that principle at all. There are some industries where it is essential that the workers must take their meals on the premises and on the works. There are certain processes of industrial work in which this is essential. I know ordinarily it is not done, but there are some industries where the process is a continuous one and in such cases this must be allowed.
Those processes are covered by the Act; where you have a shift of women employed fifteen minutes' interval must be allowed for meals.
In any event the extension of the provisions to the existing Act is to cover other forms of work. That is a matter that should not be dealt with in this Bill. The only matter that arises is whether we are repealing something now which will leave a hiatus between the period of the passing of this Act, its coming into force, and the introduction or passing of the promised Workshops and Factories Bill.
I have not that Act with me, unfortunately, at the moment, but I understand that the sections that are repealed are Sections 23 to 56. The whole of the sections dealing with the matter of the provisions in the case of women and young persons are in fact being repealed by this Bill. That being so, there is nothing in this Bill to ensure that any protection in regard to taking meals in a workroom while work is being carried on is retained. That protection section being repealed by this Bill, there will be no protection in this matter of meal hours while work is carried on. In the ordinary textile factories, even a tobacco factory, as this Bill is drafted work can be carried on during meal hours. Half the people can remain sitting at their looms in a cotton factory having their meals, nominally off work, but really simply waiting for the opportunity of evading the inspector's eye. The provision under the Factory Act is to ensure that the workers in textile industries and such other industries as are manned by women shall have an opportunity to get away from the work during the meal hour. Therefore it was made an offence to allow these people to take their meals in the room where the work is being carried on. That provision is being repealed under the present Bill. We want to insert something in the Bill to ensure that that provision will be maintained until the new Factory and Workshops Bill is brought forward.
I think the Senator misinterprets the conditions under which the provision was inserted in the Act at first. It was owing to the fact that certain deleterious chemicals are used in industrial processes that it was thought right that food should not be taken in the same atmosphere.
The Minister is minimising the purpose of the provision. It was not merely because of deleterious chemicals. It was found necessary in the case of an ordinary cotton factory.
There would be serious danger if this were allowed in the case of a cotton factory. There is no doubt that some workers would continue on at their looms while taking their meals and they would do this to the injury of their health.
In any case this amendment would have to be qualified to some extent. I agree with the Minister that it should come under a different Bill. Senators have to remember, for instance, such things as a breakdown of machinery in the actual concern. Is the process of repairing that machinery to be allowed to go ahead during the dinner hour? Are you going to prevent the workers from effecting repairs during the meal hours? There are certain other industries, such as shipyard works, where a number of machines may be engaged on certain urgent orders. I think this whole amendment will have to be definitely qualified. The amendment, as it stands, would prohibit any form of industrial work being carried on during the meal hour. The amendment should be withdrawn in view of the Minister's assurance.
The main object of this amendment is to ensure that the safety already given to the workers by the provisions of the Factory Act will be carried on into this Bill. The present Bill has no provision of this nature. If the Minister would tell us how he is going to enforce his safeguards in the interests of the factory workers in the interval between the passing of this Bill and the introduction of the promised Bill we would be satisfied. Until he can show us how he is to do that I do not see how the workers are going to be protected. We fear he had no power, because the power he has up to this is being repealed. If he can show us that he retains the power to enforce this provision we would be satisfied, but the present position is that we do not know when the promised Bill will be introduced. In the meantime we want safeguards for the protection of the people employed in the factory and workshops.
I said I was prepared to look into that matter.
Will the Senator adjourn the amendment to the Report Stage?
Before you pass the section I should like to ask the Minister what is the meaning of the words in Section 48, sub-section (5): "premises of his employer"? If you have seven or eight sheds or buildings in one factory is each one of those a separate building? The Bill does not say so. Now if a person remains in any of those is he not still on the premises of his employer? He will be deemed to be there under the section. I am not clear that that may not create a difficulty where one of the sheds is set apart for meals. The whole thing depends on the meaning of the word "premises."
I would say, on reading the section, that "the premises of the employer" would include all the buildings within the boundary of the area in which the undertaking is being carried on.
If Senator Comyn is right, and I think he is, will not this section, as it stands, lead to a great deal of difficulty? In a factory such as I have mentioned, one shed, which might be 100 yards away from where the industrial work is going on, may be set apart for meals. According to Senator Comyn, the men who would ordinarily be allowed to take their meals there would have to be turned out of that shed during meal hours. I know it is only a technical point.
Take the case of the Shannon Scheme—the premises belong to the employer.
"Premises" is a word of very wide significance.
I will look into the point. Of course, "premises" is defined in the Bill.
I am afraid it is defined in a wide sense that is not meant there.
Section put and agreed to.
Amendments Nos. 47 and 48 are consequential on another amendment and can be left over for Report Stage.
Amendments Nos. 47 and 48 not moved.
I move amendment No. 49:—
Section 49, sub-section (7). To insert before the sub-section a new sub-section as follows:—
(7) If any employer fails to pay to any worker any moneys which become payable to such worker under this section such worker may recover such moneys as a simple contract debt from such employer.
I have put down this amendment for the purpose of getting information. In Section 26, there is a sub-section similar to the one which I propose to insert here. If it is necessary to have the sub-section in Section 26 it ought to be necessary also in Section 49, because under Section 26, if an employer does not pay to a worker certain moneys which he is entitled to receive for labour given, this sub-section comes into force. If this Bill is passed, under Section 49 an employer is compelled by law to pay certain moneys, but it does not include any provision that the worker may recover such moneys as a simple contract debt.
I think it is no harm to have it in this section.
I should like to say that Section 26 deals with leave time. There is no contract between an employer and a worker to pay wages for leave time. It is a statutory obligation on the employer. That is the reason why it is in Section 26. In this latter section, the obligation of the employer to pay wages to the worker is already a simple contract debt. The Minister says you can put it in if you like, but I do not think there is any necessity.
The man is employed daily.
I am prepared to accept the amendment, if the Senator will leave it over for the Report Stage.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That Section 49 stand part of the Bill."
I want to raise a point which might come under this section or Section 54. Is it quite clear that boiler repairs could be done on Sunday? When it becomes an emergency under Section 54, or there is a reasonable anticipation of a boiler bursting, I agree it could be done. But it is more or less usual in certain factories to get boiler repairs done regularly so that there is no reasonable anticipation of danger. If that is not done on a Sunday it will put workers out for a day. It is not because it is mainly a matter of danger but to allow other workers to go on without interruption. The Minister would have power to deal with this under Section 49 (1) (e). That is the only place it is referred to. It seems to me that the doing of boiler work or work on similar machinery, which is necessary to enable a factory or industrial undertaking to go on with the ordinary work on the weekdays, is just as important as newspapers or broadcasting or any of the other things which are exempted from the Sunday work provisions.
It will be necessary to exclude that and certain other forms of industrial work from the provisions of Section 49, but we think it is preferable to do so by regulation rather than by a specific provision in the Bill, because certain elaborate provisions would be required in that connection.
As long as the Minister assures me that the Department realises it, I am satisfied. I take it night watchmen are not industrial workers?
Question put and agreed to.
Sections 50, 51 and 52 agreed to.
(1) Every employer who employs any worker to do industrial work on any premises where an industrial undertaking is carried on shall display at the entrance to such premises and in such other places as an inspector shall for the time being direct in such a position that it may be easily read by persons so employed on such premises—
(a) the prescribed abstract of this Act,
(b) notice in the prescribed form of the hours of work for workers doing such industrial work.
I move amendment No. 50:—
Section 53, sub-section (1). Before paragraph (c) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(c) notice in the prescribed form showing the public holidays on which the doing of industrial work is prohibited.
The object of the new paragraph is to make it compulsory that the public holidays given should be set out in the prescribed form. That is the provision in existing factory legislation and I think the Minister ought to have no objection to it.
The only objection I have is that the form would have to be prescribed having regard to the provisions of the Bill, and would be of very little information to anybody. There are only two of the public holidays which must be given—Christmas Day and St. Patrick's Day—whereas any other public holiday may be substituted, as the Senator is aware, by certain Church holidays. If we were to prescribe the form, we would have to prescribe a form setting out these public holidays or certain other Church holidays substituted for them. Otherwise you would be defeating another section of the Bill which requires the employer to give only a month's notice of such change, whereas if he had to put up a notice in the prescribed form it would probably involve a much longer decision on his part. I do not know that the notice is necessary in the new circumstances. The workers are going to be paid for the public holidays, and I think there will be no confusion about the workers' right to these holidays and very little doubt that they will enforce their rights in that respect.
It occurs to me that the fact that there is the option of choosing which shall be the holidays under the Bill makes it all the more necessary that the notice to be given shall be given in a public way and in a prescribed form.
Notice must be given in a prescribed form.
Under the holidays section?
Yes. Each worker must be notified by the employer.
If that is provided for already, there is no necessity for it here.
He must give notice to all persons in his employment under Section 7 (3).
That does not say in a prescribed form.
The employer may give notice on a Monday morning that next week or the week after the workers will have their holiday.
At least a month's notice.
That on 1st December, 1936, the holiday will be taken instead of in August. That will be notice unless it is done in prescribed form and in a proper manner. The intention here is that it shall be done in the prescribed manner so that the workers will undoubtedly have an opportunity of knowing.
They might get to know it that way much better than in a prescribed form in a prescribed place.
They might, but inasmuch as forms are general in this matter this seems to be one of the things where notice ought to be formally given.
Under Section 53, the intention is that the notice to be posted up under that section shall be of a permanent character. If notice in the prescribed form as to the holidays is to be given to the workers, would it not be better to put it in Section 7?
It does not matter where it is put. This is a special section dealing with notice. By no means is it a fact that these are permanent— they may vary.
Does not the Act provide that, when they are varied, there must be notice?
Quite. A month's notice must be given to all workers.
I think that what the Minister said only tends to make this addition all the more necessary. Take the case of an employer giving notice of his intention to substitute one of the Church holidays, as set out in the Bill, for one of the other holidays and giving the usual month's notice. It is quite possible that some workers may be employed within that month, and I certainly think that it is not putting any great expense on an employer to ask that he should put up in his factory notice as to what the public holidays are. As we all know, there are many factories in which workers are engaged during busy seasons for a period of short duration, and many of them might come into work under such conditions without knowing what were their rights in regard to holidays.
But in that case they would not be entitled to holidays. The Senator is aware that they must have been working for a certain period before they would be entitled to holidays.
I see the Minister's point, but where they are entitled to holidays I hold that they ought to be given an opportunity of knowing beforehand when these holidays will take place.
I may say that, in my opinion, I do not think it matters very much whether the notice is put up or not. As a matter of fact, I think that the more notices you put up the more you will defeat the object of the notice, and when you have notices put up in both languages all around the place, the less attention will be paid to such notices. As far as the employer is concerned, or the employee for that matter, I do not think that one other notice will make much difference one way or other, because I think that the whole tendency of the Bill is towards having too many notices rather than too few. However, I do not think that any employer would object to this particular notice.
I think Senator Kennedy misunderstands the type of notice prescribed under Section 53. Notice in the prescribed form will be notice in the prescribed form applicable to all factories. Consequently, that notice could not specify or take into consideration all the various needs or contingencies in regard to a particular factory. Notice must be given under another section and, therefore, any notice which could be prescribed in Section 53 would be only a replica of the relevant section of the Act.
I think the Minister misunderstands the matter. The notice may be of a general form, but leaving space for the employer to write in all these particulars. It is not a prescribed form for every particular case, but space would be left for the employer to write in which are the holidays.
May not that be substituted for the other notice?
I think we must come to the end of this discussion, as several Senators have spoken. Does Senator Kennedy wish to press his amendment?
Very well. I shall put the amendment.
Amendment put and declared carried.
I move amendment No. 51:—
Section 53, sub-section (1). Before paragraph (c) to insert a new paragraph as follows:—
(c) notice in the prescribed form of the meal hours observed.
I do not think the Minister can have any objection to this amendment, at any rate. It proposes that the workers should at least know what the meal hours are in a particular workshop or factory. This also is a provision in existing factory legislation, and I think it is a very desirable one.
I should like to know from Senator Kennedy what is meant by this amendment. If the Minister has power to exempt certain classes of work in a particular factory, is this to be a long list of the persons who come under each class? If it simply means that, subject to certain exemptions, the hours are so and so, there would be no objection; but if it means a complicated list, following the exemptions the Minister wants, I am afraid it would be very troublesome.
I think the notice that we prescribe under paragraph (b) would make it unnecessary in any case. That relates to hours of work.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question—"That Section 53, as amended, stand part of the Bill"—put and agreed to.
Sections 54, 55 and 56 agreed to.
On Section 57, Sir, paragraph (a) of that section says that the Minister may specify such industrial work either generally or when done in any particular place or class of places or by any particular workers or class of workers. I have been asked to find out what is meant there by workers. Does it mean that the Minister can specify, let us say, Senator Johnson, Senator Kennedy and Senator Foran, by name?
No; that is certainly not intended. It is intended that there should be power to make these regulations with regard to different forms of industrial workers—whether juvenile workers, male workers, female workers, and so on, or workers employed in certain circumstances.
The reason I ask is because there was a genuine fear that this meant that the Minister could take the workers of particular factories in the manner I have mentioned. I said that I did not think so and that it would not be desirable that any Minister should have such a power. That is all I wanted to know.
Sections 57, 58, 59, 60, 61 and 62 agreed to.
(1) The Minister may by order make regulations for all or any of the following purposes, that is to say:—
(a) requiring persons carrying on industrial undertakings to make and furnish to the Minister statistical returns;
(b) prescribing the class or classes of industrial undertakings in respect of which such returns are to be made;
(c) prescribing the subjects and matters in respect of which such returns are to be made;
(d) prescribing the forms in which and the times at which such returns are to be made.
I move amendment No. 52:—
Section 63, sub-section (1). After the word "may" in line 27 to insert the words "after consultation with representatives of persons interested in the relative form of industrial work and after consideration of the cost involved."
There is a certain amount of misgiving with regard to Section 63, and I think it would help if the Minister would agree to this amendment, the object of which is to provide that he would consult with the persons concerned in the relevant industry before he makes an Order for the furnishing of statistical returns. There are some statistical returns that are absolutely essential, no matter what they cost. On the other hand, there are some statistical returns that would be very nice to have if they did not add substantially to the cost of the factory and, consequently, to the cost of the goods produced by the factory concerned. There are other statistical returns that will cost hundreds and hundreds of pounds. I should like to be sure where some official in the Department gets it into his head that he would like to have certain statistical returns, and where he succeeds in getting the approval of the Minister, that, before the Order is made, the persons affected will have time and be given a chance of informing the Minister of what the cost of compiling these returns will amount to. Some of these returns, as we all know, are very costly indeed by reason of the extra work involved. Very often we pass things here in the House and we have not the remotest idea what they will cost until we come up against it afterwards. I am sure that the Minister himself has realised this in his own Department. I want to be quite sure that the Minister will be informed of the possible cost that may be involved in the compiling of such statistical returns. I think that, before making the Order, there should be an opportunity given to inform the Minister of the additional cost that would be imposed on an industry.
I certainly think that no Minister would, and I am quite certain that no Minister will, contemplate making an Order under this section, without having due regard to the cost involved in the making of these returns. I could not agree, however, to put in the Bill a form of words which would have the effect of compelling the Minister to have such consultation and which might negative his Order in the absence of consultation beforehand.
I only want the Minister to hear their side of the matter. The Minister says that he feels sure that no Minister would do this without having regard to the cost. Of course, he will have regard to the cost, but he may not have the necessary knowledge to have proper regard to the cost unless the people concerned are given an opportunity of knowing beforehand that there is going to be a demand for these returns.
This amendment would render any regulations or any order for returns illegal unless there was a consultation with representatives of the persons interested. How is the Minister to find out who are the persons interested, or how is he to find out who are the representatives of the persons interested?
How is the Minister going to do it in connection with all the other sections of that Bill?
If I may say so, with great respect, that clause is so loosely drafted that it would be impossible to carry it out.
Well, I have done my best to take it from the other sections of the Bill.
I would urge the Minister to consider this before the Report Stage and see whether he cannot do something about it. I have a good deal of experience of statistics. They are very useful, of course, but the getting of statistics is a thing that can be very much abused. It is all right, of course, to order the getting of statistics if you have not to pay for the preparation of them. From my experience, I think that their preparation in relation to a good many matters can be frightfully wasteful. I can see the point of the Minister. I think it would be a very difficult thing to amend this amendment, but, perhaps, the Minister would be good enough to look into it and see if something cannot be done to meet the point of Senator Douglas between this and the Report Stage. I think that something on the lines suggested by the Senator ought to be done, although not necessarily in the form that he has suggested. I think that if the section were allowed to go unamended it would simply open the way, not necessarily for the present Minister, but perhaps for some future Minister, to require the preparation of all sorts of statistics. We all know that there are certain types of people who have statistics on the brain. I think that this section, if unamended, would just give them the opportunity that they would love to have. It might lead to an enormous waste of time and of expenditure, and for that reason I hope the Minister will look into this before the Report Stage.
I think that any representations that are made by interested persons, that is persons affected by the requirements of the Department in the matter of making statistical returns at the present time, are very carefully considered. This section is very largely required in order to enable us to get the power of the statute behind our request for returns which we are now getting, to a very large extent, voluntarily from employers all over the country, but in the changed circumstances of the past two years the value of the voluntary returns has been very largely diminished by the failure of a small minority to make returns. It is in order to make more valuable the information which we are at present getting that this statutory power is required. It is most unlikely that any unreasonable request will ever be made, or that any representations made on behalf of employers and the owners of business generally in respect of these returns, will not be listened to. I think I can say that every effort will be made to meet them.
I think that a fortnight's notice of the intention to make regulations should be given so that employers would be enabled to make representations to the Department. The making of these statistical returns is very costly. I think that if the Minister had before him figures showing the percentage cost of making returns to Government Departments in relation to the cost of the commodities concerned, he would find that it is quite a considerable item. In the case of certain factories it amounts to quite a considerable figure. In many cases it involves the employment of additional staff. While I recognise the value of these returns, I may say that this section has caused a good deal of uneasiness amongst employers. There is a good deal of grumbling about it, and I think that something should be done to meet the point of view of employers, because this work does lead to a good deal of additional expenditure.
There is no reason to fear an increased demand for statistics arising from this section.
I wish I could be quite as optimistic as the Minister.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Sections 63 and 64 agreed to.
I move amendment No. 53:—
Schedule. After the word "work" at the end of the third column to insert the words "as defined in this Act."
On the Second Reading of the Bill, I made a statement to the effect that by the repeal of the Employment of Women, Young Persons and Children Act, 1920, it seemed to me that every section of that Act, so far as it relates to any form of industrial work as there defined, was being repealed. It has been represented to me since that, in fact, the extent of the repeal is to any form of industrial work as defined in this measure. Now, I am not quite sure that the only form of industrial work which is being repealed is that which is defined in this measure, because industrial undertakings are defined in the other Act. The purpose of my amendment is to make clear and unquestionable that the repeal of the Act of 1920, so far as it relates to industrial work, is only the industrial work which is defined here. I am not sure that it is necessary to do that, but it appears to me to be desirable to do so.
I understand that it is not necessary; that industrial work in the 1920 Act means industrial work as defined by this measure. It is really a matter for the draftsman. I propose to consult him on the matter. If he considers that such an amendment is necessary to make the point clear, then I will undertake to introduce an amendment on Report.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Question proposed: "That the Schedule stand part of the Bill."
On the Schedule, I would like again to ask the Minister either to give us an assurance now, or to look into the matter between this and Report Stage as regards the effect of these repeals, and how far it is desirable to have the provisions of the Acts that are being repealed omitted from this Bill. I know that the Minister talked several times about the new Bills that are coming forward. What I am uneasy about is as to what is going to happen during the interregnum. I want to be quite sure that, in the period between the repeal of the measures set out in the Schedule to this Bill and the enactment of new legislation, the protection afforded to workers under the present law will not be absent. I want to get an assurance from the Minister to see that there is no worsening of the conditions in the case of women or young persons or any other person who may be covered as a consequence of the repeal of the Acts set down in the Schedule to this Bill.
The repeals which it is proposed to effect under the Factories and Workshops Act relate entirely to hours of work in respect of which new provisions are being made in this Bill. As regards the sub-section dealing with the taking of meals on factory premises, some provision may be necessary, but the sections which are being repealed here are sections dealing with hours of work. In so far as they are repealed, they are being replaced by new legislation.
Is the Minister quite sure that the power partly to exempt will not remove protection from the people engaged in these exempted industries?
There is power to exempt under the existing Act.
To some extent there is power to exempt, but my point is that there is greater power to exempt under this Bill than under the existing Act.
Question put and agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported to the House with amendments.
As regards the Report Stage of the Bill, I am quite sure a number of Senators are very anxious to get it through as quickly as possible. If it is decided to take the Report Stage on the 15th January, the House will also have before it that day the Bill dealing with the Seanad.
I am quite satisfied to have the Report Stage of this Bill taken on 15th January.
I suggest that it is desirable to get the Bill through this House before the 15th January. It would be well, I think, if the House met on Wednesday, 8th January, to put this Bill through its final stages so that it might become law before the Seanad is extinct. It is conceivable that the motion for the destruction of the Seanad may be passed. If it were passed before this Bill is enacted, it is probable that this Bill would have to go through all the processes again. I would desire that this Bill should become law before the final thrust is given to the Seanad. I suggest, therefore, that the House should meet on the 8th January. That will give the House a week to deal with the final stages of this Bill before taking the Bill dealing with the Seanad.
Could we not arrange to take this Bill on the 15th January and the Bill dealing with the Seanad on the following day?
No. My desire is that this Bill should be finally passed and signed by the Governor-General before the other happening takes place.
But the Dáil will have to come back to consider the amendments passed by the Seanad to this Bill.
I want the Seanad to meet and deal with this Bill before the Dáil meets.
What does the House desire? You said that it might be taken on January 8th. You have the atmosphere on the abolition of the Seanad on January 15th. This is prolonging our existence from the 15th to the 22nd. I do not know what the President will do. The Dáil may have to come back if we make amendments in the Bill.
Apart from that, it would be desirable, in the interests of this Bill, which has been very much like an agreed measure. The discussions in both Houses were conducted in a manner in which all Bills should be discussed. In view of the atmosphere that will be prevalent on January 15th it would be better if this Bill were discussed before that.
I daresay it would. Does the House agree to take it on January 8th?
I still press that the Bill be taken before the motion for the abolition of the Seanad is discussed. Possibly it could be fitted into that week. We will probably meet on the 15th January having one or two days' business. I suggest that it is not worth while bringing all the members up from the country twice.
We could meet on the Tuesday.
Can this House do anything to expedite the passage into law of this Bill? I have in mind the National holiday, St. Patrick's Day.
Of course that is a statutory holiday at present.
Yes, but the workers are not paid for it. It is a statutory holiday for the working classes but they have to take it at their own expense. Under the provisions of the Bill they will be paid.
I could not say that I would be in a position to bring it into operation before the 17th March. I will try to do so, but considerable staff work will be necessary.
I should like to know if the working people will be paid for working on St. Patrick's Day.
Report Stage ordered for Tuesday, January 14th.