Skip to main content
Normal View

Seanad Éireann debate -
Wednesday, 31 Jul 1946

Vol. 32 No. 11

Industrial Relations Bill, 1946—Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

This Industrial Relations Bill as it reaches the Seanad is substantially different from the Bill which was originally introduced in the Dáil and it is still more different from the draft measure which was discussed with organisations representative of trade unions of employers and trade unions of workers before the Bill was printed. As a result of the detailed examination of the Bill by the organisations which will be most intimately concerned with the use of the conciliation machinery which it proposes to establish, it has been considerably amended and considerably improved. It can, I think, be fairly presented to the Seanad as an agreed measure, not agreed to the extent of 100 per cent., perhaps, because there is not complete agreement on some details, but certainly agreed in principle and generally accepted as a practicable and workable device. It can, I think, be said that the introduction of the Bill is evidence of a realisation in all quarters that a stage has been reached in the history of "worker and employer" relations in this country at which it is practicable to establish new machinery to eliminate, if possible, or at least minimise, the risk of industrial disputes leading to stoppages of work. Previously any such proposal might have been greeted with suspicion, if not with hostility. The development of opinion, our own experience and the experience of other countries such as Australia and New Zealand which have had in operation for many years systems not very dissimilar to what is proposed in this Bill, have produced a sounder outlook.

The right of workers to have their conditions of employment determined by business-like contracts, freely negotiated, has long been recognised in law and in practice. That right has been won through years of intense struggle in which the strike weapon was frequently used. It is not now questioned and, indeed, very few will contend that the intricate business of labour management in modern conditions could be conducted without the collective bargaining made possible by the organisation of workers in trade unions. There is, however, agreement that the smooth working of industrial relations will be facilitated by the establishment of a specialised tribunal with which collective agreements may be registered, which will have power to interpret and to apply such agreements, which will be available to hear and adjudicate on complaints and grievances and generally to provide impartial and common-sense proposals for the settlement of industrial differences.

The introduction of this measure does not by itself alter the status which trade unions and workers have won for themselves but it constitutes formal recognition of it—recognition of the fact that the trade union organisation of workers is an essential part of the machinery by which democracy can be made to work successfully; and that a state has been reached when trade unions must be given official responsibility, not merely for protecting the interests of their members but in the wider spheres of wage policy and labour utilisation, as custodians of the national interest. The agreement with which the measure has been prepared is an index of the readiness of Irish trade unionism to fill that larger rôle.

The introduction of this measure will coincide with the withdrawal of war-time control of remuneration in private employment and that fact emphasises the principles of policy on which it is based. In a democracy, Government interference in business contracts should be kept at a minimum and should be resorted to only when there is a clear recognition that the general public interest is involved. That applies with special force in the sphere of wage regulation. Whatever measures may be justified in an emergency situation, in normal times State regulation of wage rates cannot be made effective without concentrating powers in the hands of the executive authority which would be incompatible with democratic government. In any form of totalitarian State, official regulation of wages and other conditions of employment is inevitable, but a democracy works on the idea that individual citizens and their organisations can be trusted, as a rule, to regulate their private affairs with due regard to the general interest.

The regulation of wages and conditions of employment is one of the most important matters on which business contracts, in the form of agreements between employers' and workers' organisations, are made. In relation to them, it is believed that, while on occasion individual or sectional interests may be pursued unreasonably, on the whole we can trust the good sense and responsibility of those who make them to relate their proposals in any single instance to a general wage structure which will facilitate national progress and the promotion of employment.

The aim of this Bill is to facilitate the process of wage regulation through freely negotiated agreements, and the reduction of the causes of industrial disputes. It is recognised generally that the withdrawal of war-time control of wages may produce a period of difficulty in which industrial disputes may be more frequent than usual and which might possibly lead to widespread stoppages of work at a time when they would be of very serious consequence to our prospects of trade recovery and economic advancement. That is one further reason why the measure should be enacted now and why its coming into operation should coincide with the end of the standstill policy. It is hoped that the enactment of the Bill will be accomplished before the end of August and, although it is not now practicable to arrange for September 1st as the operative date, which was the date in mind when the Bill was first introduced, steps are being taken to short-circuit procedure for bringing the Bill into effect and the court to be established by the Bill into being, and it should not be, I hope, much behind the scheduled date, the date originally in mind, when those measures will have been completed.

Let me stress that the essential principle of this Bill is that the machinery it proposes to establish will be completely voluntary. Nobody will be compelled to use it. Workers and employers can avail of this machinery for the purposes of resolving their differences or removing possible causes of future friction if they believe it is suitable. If they decide not to use it, they will be in exactly the same position in regard to these matters as they were previously. I believe that, in our circumstances, the use of such a tribunal as is proposed in the Bill will best be promoted by eliminating any element of compulsion. In Australia and in New Zealand, to which I have referred, compulsory arbitration is provided in the legislation enacted there by Labour Governments and the maintenance of that legislation is a central feature in the policies of their respective Labour Parties. Here, the outlook of our trade union movement is different and this Bill does not provide for compulsory arbitration in any form. I believe that the machinery to be set up by the Bill will be availed of if the general view prevails that it is workable, impartial and expeditious and that we can at least feel confident that it will commence to function with a considerable amount of goodwill.

Having made these general observations, I propose to refer to the more-important questions arising under each part of the Bill which were the subject of prolonged discussion in the Dáil. Under Part I of the Bill, it will be noted that it is provided that the machinery to be established will not apply to State employees, persons remunerated out of public funds, or employees of local authorities. That provision in the Bill was the subject of prolonged discussion in the Dáil and I should make it clear that the limitation proposed is Government policy. There is no question of that provision in the Bill having been discussed with organisations interested in the measure, and certainly no suggestion that there has been any agreement in that regard. The Government consider that the machinery proposed by this Bill, particularly the nature of the tribunal to be set up under it, makes it inappropriate to apply it to employees of public authorities. The House is aware that the Minister for Finance has announced his intention to enter into discussions with the several associations representing civil servants with a view to the introduction of legislation providing for some similar machinery in relation to persons employed by the State. While the Bill does not apply to employees of the State or of local authorities, it is, perhaps, necessary to make it clear here that there is nothing in the Bill which prevents the tribunal to be established under it, the labour court, being utilised, with the agreement of all parties concerned, in any form of dispute or being asked to report on any matter which it could usefully investigate.

Part II of the Bill deals with the labour court. The proposal here is that there should be a labour court established consisting of five persons: a chairman appointed by the Minister for Industry and Commerce, two persons nominated by workers' organisations and two persons nominated by employers' organisations. That court will meet, not as a negotiating body, but as a tribunal. Whatever decision may be arrived at, whether arrived at by a majority vote or by any of the methods outlined in the Bill, will be announced as the decision of the court. The views of individual members of the court will not be made known. The idea is that a court so composed should be able to give a view which would represent the combined view of all parties concerned on any issue that may come before it.

The decision of the court will be arrived at by one or other of three methods. If three of the ordinary members of the court, that is to say, two of the workers' members and one of the employers' members, or two of the employers' members and one of the workers' members, agree upon any issue, their agreement constitutes the decision of the court. If the ordinary members are divided as to two and two on any issue and the chairman finds himself able to accept the point of view of either the workers' or employers' members, then that view is announced as the decision of the court. If there is no possibility of a majority of the ordinary members arriving at a conclusion, or if the chairman finds himself unable to agree with the view put forward by either the workers' members or the employers' members, then the chairman's opinion alone is announced as the view of the court. That device is necessary to avoid the possibility of the court being unable to reach a decision on any question. In relation to matters which involve industrial disputes, there is always the possibility of more than two opinions.

It is never a simple matter of finding a verdict for or against a particular contention. There may be as many opinions as to the merits of a particular case as there are individuals considering it. But it is desirable that there should be some procedure within the court itself by which finality can be reached and that view announced. It is to be understood, of course, that the view of the court is ordinarily not binding upon anybody. It is hoped that it will ultimately have behind it such moral force as to make it binding, but there is no proposal to make it binding in a legal sense.

Some disagreement arose in the Dáil as to the size of the court. When the Bill was originally introduced I proposed a court of three members, with provision for the appointment of deputies to act in lieu of these members in various circumstances. It was argued in the Dáil that both the workers' members and the employers' members might, in various circumstances, find themselves able to arrive more confidently at a conclusion upon any issue if they had an opportunity of consulting with a colleague of like mind to themselves. It was also pointed out that an occasion may arise when a workers' member or an employers' member may, by reason of illness or some similar cause, be unable to attend and the court might thereby be unable to function. The proposal in the Bill is that, in such an event, a court of three will act at the discretion of the chairman, subject to the requirement that one of the three must be a workers' member and one of the three an employers' member.

We also had to bear in mind the possibility that objection might be advanced to an individual member of the court, either a worker or an employer, by reason of some previous association which the individual might have had with the parties concerned in a dispute or with the issue raised, and that the presence of that individual member might give rise to doubts as to the possibility of an impartial verdict being given. Again, in such circumstances, the chairman of the court may provide for the hearing of the issue by a court of three members.

The device of having a court of five members also permits of an arrangement by which a particular difficulty stressed in the Dáil might be met. It was urged that, for a period after the Bill comes into operation, and possibly at some other time, there would be a temporary rush of business to the court, such a number of cases arising simultaneously as to make it impossible for the court to dispose of them expeditiously. Everybody who has had experience of handling industrial disputes will appreciate the importance of having arrangements which will enable the court to deal expeditiously with disputes that arise. By having a court of five members it is possible to provide for a device by which the court could be divided into two divisions in circumstances where such action would be necessary to enable the business to be expeditiously disposed of.

Part III deals with registered agreements. The Seanad will remember that under the Conditions of Employment Act, 1936, there was provision for the registration of industrial agreements, with certain consequences following upon registration. That section of the 1936 Act was largely inoperative; only one agreement was registered. It was inoperative because it was confined to agreements relating to wages. All industrial agreements apply either directly or implicitly to conditions as well as to wages, but a strict interpretation of the section of the 1936 Act precluded the registration of agreements which related to conditions. Under this Bill, all industrial agreements relating to wages or conditions of employment may be registered, subject to their conforming, in the opinion of the court, to the provisions outlined in Section 27.

An agreement may be registered for any class of workers. We have not attempted to define the word "class". I was advised that any attempt to do that would, in fact, have a limiting effect and, consequently, workers subject to an agreement can be defined by reference to the name of their employer or employers, the class of work they do, or the place they Work, or by any description which will enable one group to be effectively distinguished from another group. The effect of the registration of an agreement is to make it binding on all workers and employers of the class to which the agreement relates, whether or not they are parties to the agreement. An agreement cannot be registered unless the court is satisfied that those who made it are substantially representative of the class so concerned.

When I say an agreement is made binding upon all workers and employers of the class concerned, I mean that employers are required to give to their workers wages and conditions not less favourable than those prescribed in the agreement, while a union, party to the agreement, may not support out of its funds a strike to compel any individual employer to pay more wages or to give better conditions. It will be appreciated that the agreement is registered with the consent of all the parties to it, or with the consent, in the case of an agreement entered into between a number of trade unions and employers, of a substantially representative section of both. If they consent to the registration, they voluntarily accept the obligations that follow, the obligation on the part of the employer to observe the agreement and the obligation on the part of the unions not to finance a strike to alter the terms of the agreement.

If a union complains to the court that an employer has paid less wages or given less favourable conditions, the court can direct the employer to keep the agreement and to make such repayments to the workers concerned, in respect of past under-payments, as equity requires. If the employer complains to the court that a union is financing a strike in contravention of the provisions of the agreement, the court can direct the union to desist from giving that assistance. In either event, failure to fulfil the direction of the court is an offence which may be punished by a fine.

The registration of an agreement can be terminated with the consent of all the parties, or on the application of one party, if the court is satisfied that the conditions in the trade have so altered that the agreement is no longer suitable, or with the efflux of time, subject to certain notice.

Part IV deals with what were formerly known as trade boards. Trade boards were established by Ministerial Order for certain occupations which were regarded as depressed trades in the past. Where a trade board was established in the past it had power to make recommendations to the Minister as to minimum rates of wages. If the Minister acted on them, he gave effect to the minimum rates by Orders which made the rates enforceable by him. The effect of a Ministerial Order was to make it an offence for an employer to pay less wages, and the obligation of prosecuting the employer for that offence was on the Minister. It is proposed in the Bill to transfer to the labour court the functions previously exercised by the Minister. Henceforth it will be the court which will decide if and when a trade board is to be established. We are proposing to alter the name "trade board" to "joint labour committee", but I am using the term "trade board" so as to enable Senators to grasp fully what is proposed in the Bill.

The court will decide whether such a committee is to be established and the procedure for the establishment of the committee is considerably simplified. The circumstances under which it can be established are being widened. The powers of a committee are also being altered. A joint labour committee can in future prescribe not merely minimum rates of wages for workers in trade board trades but can also prescribe minimum weekly remuneration. It is also being given powers to deal with conditions of employment. If and when a recommendation of a trade board is confirmed by the labour court, the enforcement of the minimum wages or minimum rates or the conditions so prescribed will in future, as in the past, be a function of the Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Part V of the Bill deals with joint industrial councils. It proposes to give formal recognition to those councils which were brought into existence by negotiated agreements in the past and to give them a specific part in the operation of this scheme of conciliation. If there is a joint industrial council in existence, it is proposed that the labour court will not have power to intervene in any dispute in the trade concerned, except at the request of the joint industrial council or where conciliation machinery established by the joint industrial council has been applied but has failed to avert a possible stoppage of work.

Part VI of the Bill is the part which gives the court general power to intervene in trade disputes. The intervention of the court will be on its own initiative. The effect of its intervention will be to have a hearing of the issues involved in the dispute and the publication by the court of its opinion on those issues. The award of the court under that section will not be binding on anybody. However, as a result of the hearing of the dispute by the court, ample publicity will be given to the merits of the claims of the parties concerned in the dispute and there will be an authoritative view on those merits. The court may not intervene in a dispute if there is a registered agreement providing for alternative methods of negotiating on differences—if a trade union shows that it has in existence an agreement relating to the trade concerned, providing for an alternative method of negotiating in disputes, or if there is a joint industrial council—unless it is clear that the alternative methods provided under one system or another have been availed of unsuccessfully and that a stoppage is likely to result.

In that regard, I might draw attention to the provisions of Section 71 of the Bill. It is the only section which proposes to give the court any coercive power. Section 71 deals with disputes in which unorganised workers are concerned—unorganised either because they are not members of a trade Union or because they are acting in defiance of the authority of the union committee, in what are usually called unofficial strikes. It has been the policy of the Department of Industry and Commerce to decline to negotiate or to provide conciliation service in the case of unofficial strikes, the aim being at all times to get unofficial strikers back under the authority of trade union leaders. It has been a matter of some difficulty to decide whether or not it is better to give this court any function in relation to unofficial strikes. What is proposed here is that, in the case of an unofficial strike—or of a strike of unorganised workers, where the difficulty is to get somebody who can speak on behalf of the workers concerned or enter into an agreement binding on them—the court may intervene and if it thinks fit to do so, having examined the situation thoroughly, it may eventually make a binding award. That award will be binding for a period of three months only and will have the effect of requiring an employer to observe only such rates of pay and conditions of employment as the court may prescribe during that period, thus making a strike for better pay or better conditions ineffective and making it illegal for the employer to pay less. The idea is to provide a "cooling-off" period, during which action may be taken, either for the organising of the workers in a trade union or the negotiation of a longer term agreement, which could be registered under the Bill.

Part VII of the Bill deals with transitory provisions. The House is aware, no doubt, that under the Wages Standstill Order a number of standard wages Orders were made by me as Minister for Industry and Commerce. These standard wages Orders. purported to set out the rates of wages actually paid in various occupations in April, 1941, the date upon which the standstill Order came into effect. Subsequently, bonus Orders were made for various occupations, which permitted the payment, over and above the standard wages permitted under standard wages Orders, of the amount of the prescribed bonuses in each case. It has been decided to endeavour to deal with the immediate difficulties involved in the withdrawal of war-time control by utilising the machinery of standard wages Orders made under the Emergency Powers Order. What the Bill proposes is that any trade union or any group of workers to whom a standard wages Order applies can register that Order with the court. The registration is automatic and can be accomplished by sending a copy of the Order by registered letter to the registrar of the court. The court is given no discretion to accept or refuse a standard wages Order for recording, except where there is objection on behalf of some trade union on the ground that the Order has been submitted for recording by individuals or a union which is not, in fact, representative of the workers concerned.

The effect of the recording is to make it obligatory on the employers concerned to pay the wages therein prescribed, that is to say, the standard rate as set out in the standard rate Order plus any bonuses prescribed in bonus Orders made subsequently under the Wages Standstill Order. The effect of these Orders was to fix a ceiling to the wages that could be paid. An employer could pay these standard rates and prescribe bonuses, and no more. There was no obligation on him to pay wages at these rates, but a trade union was free to take action to enforce the payment of those rates in whatever manner it thought fit. The repeal of the Emergency Powers Order and the enactment of this measure will change that ceiling upon wages to a floor. Instead of the Orders operating to limit wages to the amount of the prescribed rates plus bonus, the payment of those prescribed rates plus bonus will be a legal obligation on the employers concerned.

When, however, a trade union or a group of workers decides to avail of that provision of the Bill, it is also undertaking certain obligations. It secures immediately the advantage of having a prescribed rates of wages— the standard rate plus the bonus payments—made legally enforceable, but it limits its freedom of action in certain respects. It cannot initiate a strike for higher rates until it has applied to the courts for sanction for such higher rates. If it applies to the court for such sanction and the court makes such order, then the trade union or group of workers concerned may consider whether they are satisfied with the court's award or not. If they are satisfied, that award becomes effective and a new rate as defined by the court is also legally enforceable on the employers. If the trade union or group of workers are not satisfied with the award, they may decline to accept it and may require the court to cancel the recording of the standard rate Order, in which case it recovers its freedom to take ordinary industrial action. Then the employer is no longer bound, and the position is that which would exist in normal times, prior to the emergency.

There are various consequential provisions necessary to deal with certain difficulties that arose in the preparation of that scheme. There were some occupations in which standard rate Orders were made where it was found that the practice with various trades was so complicated by traditional arrangements or individual payments, that it was not practicable to prescribe a standard rate of wages for the workers concerned under a standard rate Order. The Emergency Powers (No. 260) Order made provision for the making of bonus Orders despite the fact that no standard rate Order had been made, where the Minister deemed it appropriate. Unless provisions were made in this Bill, the workers in those occupations could not avail of Part VII. For that reason, we are proposing to have the court, in such circumstances, prescribe a rate of wages on the application of the workers concerned and, if the court so prescribes, that rate comes into effect in the same way as the standard rate is brought into effect by the recording of a standard rate Order. The same circumstances would apply in any case where no standard rate Order was made under Emergency Powers Order because no application was made for such an Order.

Part VII will remain in operation for one year only and the binding effect of orders made under the Part will continue for one year. There is provision for a possible continuation of the Part for a longer period, but it is intended to provide merely for a time in which the inevitable adjustment of wage rates to new conditions following the withdrawal of the standstill Order can be made effective without trade disputes. It will enable the situation to be stabilished and will permit workers to obtain increases in wages which the court considers reasonable while new long-term agreements are being worked out for registration under Part III of the Bill.

In consequence of the enactment of this measure the schedule provides for the repeal of the Conciliation Act, 1896, the Trade Boards Act, 1909, and the Industrial Courts Act, 1919. There are some other consequential repeals, but I draw attention to the repeal of the Conciliation Act, and the Industrial Courts Act, in order to make it clear that the conciliation services heretofore provided by the Department of Industry and Commerce in industrial disputes will cease when this Bill comes into operation. It should be clear that the court to be established under this Bill will proceed by way of conciliation in regard to disputes. It is contemplated that the court will have at its service a number of conciliation officers, and when any dispute arises these conciliation officers will intervene in the first instance, to try to get an agreed settlement. It is only where an agreed settlement proves impossible that the issue will go to the court. It is not contemplated that the court should function in all industrial disputes. The great majority of disputes can, in fact, be settled by conciliation methods, and it is intended to continue using these methods. The only difference in the future, as compared with the past, is that the conciliation officers will be officers of the labour court, and will act under the supervision of the labour court, and not under the Department of Industry and Commerce.

The Bill will, I hope, be generally availed of by workers' and employers' organisations. I realise, however, because of its voluntary character, that it is certain it would only be availed of if the court established under it functions in a satisfactory manner; if there is general belief that it is not merely impartial, but is working on a practical basis. For that reason, the court is not given any obligation to consider, in the discharge of its functions, any particular social or economic theory. It is asked in relation to industrial disputes to have regard, only subject to the public interest, to the arrangement most fair to the parties concerned in disputes, and the arrangements most likely to be acceptable to the parties. Unless we can get that relationship in the court it is almost certain that its services will not be availed of. If we get a court which is expeditious, impartial and common-sense, I am quite certain that in a good many industrial disputes it will be availed of, and be successful in avoiding stoppages of work which are sometimes consequential.

I think it is particularly important that this measure should be enacted now, and the court brought into existence soon, because the withdrawal of war-time control of remuneration will inevitably mean here a period of intense industrial disturbance, unless we can get some such machinery as this functioning to smooth out difficulties, and to provide a common-sense and workable arrangement for the period of adjustment. I stated that I hoped originally that the standstill Order would be repealed on the date on which the Emergency Powers Act would cease to operate, September 2. That assumption was based on the expectation that the Bill would have had a quicker passage through the Dáil than it had and that instead of meeting in the middle of August to have the Committee Stage—as it is likely that there will be some amendments submitted to the Dáil as a result of consideration here—it is unlikely that the date, September 1, can be adhered to as the operative date. It is possible that the Bill will not become law before that date. Some time will be required after the enactment of the measure to complete arrangements for the establishment of the court, for the appointment of staff, for the preparation of rules and for the solution of the housing and accommodation problem that arises in connection therewith, so that it may be some date near to the end of September before the Bill, when an Act, will be brought into operation.

I am endeavouring at the present time to short-circuit the arrangements. Assuming enactment of the measure in its present form it will, perhaps, enable the date of operation to be advanced earlier than was otherwise possible. I think I have dealt fully with the provisions of the Bill, certainly with those provisions that aroused most discussion in the Dáil. I emphasise that sections of the Bill that were debated in the Dáil were fully discussed outside with organisations representative of workers and employers, and many of these sections represent the result of prolonged consideration and a balance of agreement, which should not be lightly upset. I realise that everyone who applies his mind to a problem of this kind will have a somewhat different approach, and that everyone will not regard the machinery as the most suitable. There is this to be remembered, that while a great deal could be said, those who will be most directly concerned, while perhaps not fully agreeing with every section, agree that it will do a great deal as it stands, and is a workable measure.

In introducing the Bill the Minister divided his speech more or less under two heads: one, general observations with regard to principles, and the other a very interesting and detailed description of the provisions of the Bill. I only propose to follow him with regard to the first part. I think it would be much better for members to defer any detailed discussion until the Committee Stage. I hope that will meet with the general wish. As the Minister is, apparently, suffering from a bad cold none of us will wish unduly to prolong the proceedings.

I do not think that there is any section here that will delay in any unreasonable way the passing into law of this measure. I personally, probably, have more interest in it than in any other Bill which has been introduced for a very considerable time because, for very many years, I have been an ardent advocate of the creation of a labour court. Senators may possibly remember that, six years ago, I introduced a resolution, which was accepted by the Seanad, advocating the creation of a court very much on the same lines, though not in every respect the same, as the court outlined in this Bill. For that reason, I certainly support the Bill, and for that reason also I agree at least with 90 per cent. of what I may call the general remarks made by the Minister. There are, however, certain things in this measure that are extremely disappointing and which I view with a certain amount of concern. I am not referring to minor details which may arise in Committee. Before I deal with this I should like to say that, even if the Bill were to become law in exactly its present form, I certainly would use my influence, for what it is worth, and would ask every other employer to use his influence, to see that every possible effort is made to make the Bill work, to see that the labour court gets fair play, consideration, patience and the kind of support which should be given to a new organisation which should be viewed as an experiment in the operation of democracy and as something in connection with which it is well worth putting up with some things that we may not altogether like in the hope that it may ultimately succeed or, if it does not prove fully successful, that it may be changed. I want to make that clear because there is a possible danger when one makes certain criticism that it may appear to be intended as criticism of a destructive nature. That certainly is not intended, and I do not think my criticism could be so regarded.

The greatest difference between the proposals made by me after consideration in this House six years ago and the present Bill is the method of appointment and removal of the chairman. The more I think of it, the more I feel that I was right and that the Government are taking an unwarranted and unwise risk. I am strongly of the opinion that the chairman should be independent in his functions and that his tenure of office and the method of his appointment and removal should be the same as in the case of a High Court or Supreme Court judge. The Minister emphasised that it was extremely important that there should be confidence in the impartiality and workability of the court. With that I am in complete agreement. I would add that there must be complete confidence in the independence of the court, which I think is just as important and closely allied with the question of confidence in its impartiality. I can understand that the Minister may feel that there is a risk involved in appointing a man for life subject to removal by Parliament I can understand that a Minister may have someone in his mind who he thinks would become an excellent chairman. But I feel strongly that the public and employers and labour will not feel that a man whose term of office ends in five, six or even ten years, and who would then have to seek another position, can be completely independent in his functions. Unless employers, trade unions and also the public are confident in his independence, there is a danger that the court may not be anything like as valuable as it otherwise could be.

In that connection I stress the importance of the public. In all labour disputes there are three interests, the employers, labour and the public. By the public I mean the general body of consumers, including very often workers other than those involved in the dispute, who are perhaps not so well organised and are unable to secure commensurate terms. It is just as important that the labour court, in considering what is to be a just and equitable recommendation, should bear in mind the interest of the public as it is that its findings will be temporarily acceptable to a particular union of employers or a particular union of workers.

The days in which the employer represented himself or his own family are almost gone. That applies only in smaller businesses and there is not often a matter of major dispute there. There is, therefore, a very grave temptation on the part of the officials of an employers' trade union and the officials of a trade union of workers to agree to conditions because they believe that generally they are strong enough to force these conditions on the public. Who in this court will have regard to that particular matter? Obviously, the chairman. That is one of the reasons why I think it is highly desirable that he should be independent in his functions. When you come to examine the Bill it will be seen why some of us feel somewhat uneasy as to the whole position of the court. I will not go back on the changes that were made in the Dáil although, personally, I am rather inclined to think that on the whole the Minister's original proposal was a better one. On examining the Bill, we find that the chairman shall be appointed by the Minister and shall hold office on such terms as shall be fixed by the Minister when appointing him. I do not know whether or not the Minister would be willing to give any indication as to the salary that it is proposed to pay to the chairman and the other members of the court. Is it proposed to remunerate them on the cheap? There are some things in the Bill which make me wonder if that is the idea. If it is, it is a hopeless mistake. Even if all the members of the court were paid the salary of a Supreme Court judge—and I am not saying they should be—the total cost would not represent the cost of a dock strike lasting a couple of months, to the community as a whole. You cannot afford to do it on the cheap.

There is a number of questions I want to ask the Minister in relation to the provision of the court. I do not propose to go into other details, but I think that is a fundamental and proper matter for the Second Stage. I have already asked what is the proposed salary for the chairman. Is it intended that he should have a pension or is he to be in the position that, if he makes himself unpopular because of his decisions, he may find himself without a job at the end of a period of five, seven or ten years—whatever is the period of his appointment? If he is put in that position, I do not think he will be regarded by the public as independent in his functions and I do not think he will be able to give the best possible service. On the other hand, it is provided in the Bill that the chairman shall devote the whole of his time to the work of the court. Of course I approve of that, but I find that an ordinary member shall not hold the office of trustee, treasurer, secretary or any other office in, or be a member of any committee of, a trade union, or hold any office or employment which would prevent him from being at all times available for the work of the court. That presumably means that he can hold other offices, provided they do not come within that description. I think that is a mistake. Presumably he can be the managing director of a company, if the company agrees that he can leave the particular job at any time the court requires him. He may be a dispensary doctor, he might be a trade union official retired on pension or on a committee, provided he does not hold an office in a trade union. He may be one of the staff of an employers' trade union, part-time. I do not think it is intended that he should be such, but it seems to me that it is doing it on the cheap if you are going to leave it that the men who are acting as ordinary members will not be paid sufficient to provide that they give whole-time service to the court. It is almost impossible for a man to give the time and attention which one can visualise will be necessary for this work, if he is using part of his time to supplement his income. That would depend, again, to a considerable extent on the amount which it is proposed to pay these men.

I am much more concerned when I come to the provision for deputy-chairman. It would seem that he is intended to be a part-time officer, as his tenure depends on what term the Minister fixes. The chairman is to be appointed on such terms as are fixed by the Minister, but he must give the whole of his time. For the deputy-chairman there is no such provision, from which I assume that he is to be a part-time person. In Section 11, you find that that part-time gentleman— who, presumably, is to be paid less and not to have enough to provide his sole livelihood—is to be the chairman of a second division, in certain circumstances. Then he would have all the powers of a chairman and the second division may have all the power of a court when it is functioning in relation to a particular matter which the chairman of the court decides the second division should undertake. In that way, we are going to have extremely important matters— including matters that may be referred to the labour court from a court of law, as to the interpretation of an agreement—decided by a second division, which will be presided over by a deputy-chairman who is a part-time employee and who, presumably, is earning his livelihood in some other way. I doubt if that is wise and I believe the Minister would have been very well advised if he had created a court of three and if the whole three had been chosen—including the one from the employers' organisations and the one from the labour organisations—and taken right out for the rest of their lives from their particular jobs and placed in a position of judges chosen because of their experience and knowledge and deprived of any necessity to earn a livelihood at a later date.

It may be said that there is the risk of getting a bad person and not being able to change him easily. If the person were obviously unsuitable, it would not be extremely difficult to get a majority of the two Houses, as that majority is obtained very easily for less important matters. That would be done only in a clear case and for well-defined reasons. It would be better than taking the risk of feeling that the chairman depends on the Minister. It is not a question of the present Minister at all, but a question of any Minister. For the sake of argument, it could be said that such a procedure would mean that, if the employers' class generally were dissatisfied with the general outlook of the chairman, they might be supporting a particular political Party which would put in a Minister who would remove that chairman. It could be a political issue. No one wants to avoid that any more than I do. The same thing could happen if the workers generally were dissatisfied.

I would appeal to the Minister to reconsider this question of the position of the chairman and see whether it would not be in the interest of the functioning of this court to have a chairman who would not be removable by or under the terms set out by the Minister. He would be appointed, in the first instance, by the Government, in the same way as a judge, but after that he would be independent. I believe the recognition of his independence is not only essential to confidence but essential to the creation, by experience, of the kind of person we want in a court of this kind—a man who has not got to worry as to how he is going to live at the end of his term of office, who regards this as a life position, a job of great importance which he has taken up with full responsibility, into which he puts his energy and time. In it he will be likely to create the kind of precedents that we want. It means taking some one and saying to him: "Here is a function of the greatest possible importance"—as we say, in effect, to a judge—"to the life of the community; we ask you to take it and we place confidence in you; and we make you independent in your functions."

That is the main line of criticism which I take and, having concentrated on that, I do not want to take away from the fact that, even if the Bill is left as it is, I hope it will be given every opportunity to work. I believe its chances would be very much better if the court could be strengthened in the way I have suggested.

The Minister seems to think that this Bill has no definite connection with or concern for agriculture, but that is not so. There is no strike, no look-out, scarcely any industrial dispute, which is not the concern of agriculture. If the manufacturer has to pay more to his workers as a result of agitation, he passes it on to the public; and, as agriculture represents the biggest section of the community, it is only natural that that section will have to pay. The same thing occurs with railways, shipping and banking—they always pass on to the public the extra demands made by their employees, though they seem to be able always to work it out that they will be secure in their own dividends and profits. The farmer cannot do any such thing: he will have to take whatever he can get. For that reason, I think it is a great injustice that, in framing this Bill, the Minister did not arrange to have a representative of agriculture on the labour board.

At the present time, there is a shipping strike at the North Wall. It is holding up the trade of the country and I would like to ask the Minister what he is going to do about it?

It does not arise here and we should not discuss it on this Bill.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I do not think the Senator should make any reference to that strike, but should deal with the Bill.

Would the Minister consent to put in the Bill an amendment providing for compulsory arbitration on all strikes? I feel the only way to stop those strikes in key industries, such as shipping, railways and banking, is to have compulsory arbitration. We all know that if strikes occurred in key industries on the Continent under the regime of Hitler or Mussolini what would happen to the people who created the strikes. We also know what would happen if such a thing occurred in Russia.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator is now getting very far away from the Bill.

We know what would be done in Russia, and what was done in America to prevent strikes. I would not ask the Minister to follow the procedure adopted by those dictators to prevent strikes, but I think he must know what the President of America would do, and what he has done to stop strikes. I believe it is illegal to have strikes in New Zealand or Australia in the case of key industries. If something is not done strikes will continue. This Bill may have an effect so far as minor industries are concerned. I support the Bill—I would support anything for peace—but I think it will have no effect until something more effective is done by way of legislative action to prevent strikes. I think that something more could easily be done—by passing legislation to take up the funds of those organisations.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

What is before the House now is the Industrial Relations Bill.

Why could not the funds of those organisations be taken up? Under the Compulsory Tillage Order, the Government took power to take up a farmer's land if he did not till it, while the farmer himself was taken to court and was liable to be sentenced to a term of imprisonment. If that was done in the case of farmers who were producing food for the nation——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

What has that to do with the Industrial Relations Bill?

Something should be done to prevent what is happening at the North Wall at the present time.

Like Senator Douglas, I have no hesitation in giving my blessing, for what it is worth, to the Bill that is before us. I think it is one of the most important Bills that the Minister or the Government—indeed any Government—has brought before the legislative Assembly in recent years. It is an experiment, we know. This is a Bill that has many desirable features. Not the least desirable feature of it is that the Minister, with that courage of which he has given evidence on more than one occasion, consulted the representatives of the trade unions and of employers when drafting it. No one is going to say it is a perfect Bill. There are many glaring omissions in it, but that is because those charged with the responsibility of looking after the interests of the men, on the one hand, and of employers on the other, are so anxious for the success of this experiment that at this stage they are not obtruding many views which each side would certainly like to express. The organised trade unions of labour are not satisfied with the Bill in its entirety. I can say that organised employers are by no means satisfied with it, but, in saying that, I, like Senator Douglas, hope that the Bill, and the court which it is proposed to set up under it, will both be a triumphant success.

Speaking of employers generally, I can say definitely that they approach this Bill with the desire to co-operate to the fullest extent to make it a success. So far as we have read the utterances of responsible trade union leaders, they also approach it in the same spirit. Therefore, the community must hope, and does hope, that we are going to see our expectations realised. The tragedy of strikes is something dire. It is only those who have been intimately connected with them who can realise what a real tragedy they are. That tragedy is not confined to the immediate participants. When a strike occurs, it is the members of the public who, very often, get the hardest blow.

It is not my intention to make a long speech at this stage of the Bill. I hope to move some slight amendments on the Committee Stage. On the Second Reading, however, I do want to say, whatever my words may be worth, that this is a Bill that we thoroughly welcome. We hope that it is going to have a big success, and that everyone will co-operate, not in seeing what its imperfections are, but rather in seeing how the machinery it provides can be made work in the interests of the community generally.

The Bill which is now before us is, I think, certainly the most important measure that has come before this Seanad, or, indeed, before the last one. It is the latest, though I expect not the ultimate, of the long series of legislative attempts to provide a way out for the difficulties which confront labour and capital, a way which shall be an alternative to the method of strike, or to the method of compulsion from above, which, as the Minister has stated, is characteristic of totalitarian regimes. The history of such measures in the past has been of very great hopes at the time of their introduction, and, I regret to say, of somewhat limited fulfilment of the expectations. I hope that is not going to be the case with this Bill. If ever a Bill came to the Seanad with favourable auspices, it is the one which we now have before us.

Throughout its passage in the Dáil there has been a spirit of co-operation and forbearance, and a consistent and genuine attempt by all parties to produce a measure which will be as good as it possibly can be. Looking through the provisions of the measure, although I am neither an employer nor an employee, and so cannot approach it with a specialised knowledge, I feel that this is just as good a Bill in its outlines as could have been devised, and yet, if the same spirit which marked its genesis and its passage through the Dáil is not observed in the attempt to make it function, it will, again, I believe fail of that fulfilment which all of us here hope for it at the present moment.

That leads me to a topic which Senator Douglas raised, which he has dealt with with considerable fullness, and which he has promised to deal with, in even greater detail, on the Committee Stage. The whole structure of this Bill is supported by one arch. That arch is the labour court and the keystone of the arch is the chairman of the labour court. I find myself in the most cordial agreement with Senator Douglas in his view that on the capacity, the personality, the power and the position of the chairman of the labour court will depend the success of this Bill. We can all lay down as postulates certain characteristics which he must have and certain attributes which must be attached to his position. He must be a man of character, he must be a man of ability. There will be no difficulty in Ireland in finding a chairman who combines both of these qualities. But he must go further.

He must be a person who is hedged around from the suggestion that his opinions might be influenced or that his ability is not the highest. In the whole history of the world there has, I think, been only one person whom one would choose as ideal for the position and that was Sir George Askwith, who almost unaided, by his individual efforts, prevented a revolution in England between the years 1910 and 1914. I am underlining his name because, although I think Sir George Askwith had a certain amount of legal training, he was primarily a civil servant.

The solution which I shall propose to the House is not that of appointing a civil servant. For that very reason I give an instance of the one person who would seem to me the ideal chairman and who was a civil servant but he was the sort of person whom you get not once in a generation and, perhaps, not once in a century.

It seems to me, first of all, that it is necessary to avoid the suggestion that the chairman of this labour court would be in any way capable of being influenced by the Minister—of course I do not mean an individual Minister but whoever happens to be Minister for Industry and Commerce—that he should not be capable of being influenced in any way by the Minister, or of being subject in any way to sanctions which can be imposed by the Minister. If it is to be thought by anybody that the chairman is to be, even to a small degree, the tool of ministerial policy, his influence goes for nothing. For that reason it does seem to me that it would be undesirable, on the face of it, that a civil servant should be chosen as chairman.

Similarly, I think it would be undesirable that a practising barrister should be chosen as chairman because it would be suggested, very erroneously, that a practising barrister would be looking for some further preferment. Again, it must not be capable of being suggested that the chairman of the labour court is a person who hopes to curry favour with anybody in the exercise of the very delicate powers which are entrusted to him. It must be remembered that although the interests of labour and capital are very much more often running along parallel, rather than clashing lines, that inevitably there will from time to time tend to be a cleavage between the two employers' representatives and the two labour representatives. The increase in the size of the court to five will facilitate an approach to understanding between the opposing sides because it is much easier for two people representing each side to compromise and give way on an issue than if there were only one representing each side. One person is usually afraid of the accusation that he has been weak or that he has been subject to outside influence.

Two people on each side can more easily arrive at a compromise, but inevitably there will be a split in the court on a number of occasions and inevitably then the decision of the court will be the decision of the chairman. Therefore, not only must the chairman be a person of integrity, not only must his position be one preserved from both temptation and the appearance of temptation, but he must be a person of very considerable ability and I would be inclined to say, having special regard to the function of interpretation that is given to him, he must be a person of very great legal experience.

Judging not by individuals but by the functions of his position, it seems to me that the only person who would be ideally suitable to be chairman of the tribunal would be a person who has already reached the height of his profession, who has already reached the height of that profession which gives a peculiar training in the practice of those arts and accomplishments which will be necessary for the chairman. In other words, I believe that the chairman should be selected from the existing High Court judges. I do not mean that there should be a roster; I mean that the President of the High Court should allocate, out of the existing High Court judges, one person to be a permanent chairman of the labour court. He has already reached the height of his profession and has nothing to gain in the way of extra salary or extra prestige by such an appointment. He is completely independent of everybody; he cannot be removed; he cannot be advanced in any way though he can be changed.

It is quite possible that the original choice of the president might not turn out to be as ideal as might be anticipated. After two years, six months or five years, the president if necessary could nominate somebody else—again a person who would have nothing to gain. Neither side would gain or lose by the change.

It means that as you get experience of the working of the court, of the particular human capacities which are necessary, you can after a period, long or short as occasion dictates, have a change of personnel, but at the same time replace the man who is there by another man with the same independence, the same general type of outlook and the same freedom from any kind of temptation or influence. That I do believe to be the ideal solution.

The Minister may, very possibly, reply that he thinks that the legal mind—that is, the mind of a person who has already attained to the position of judge of the High Court— is not the ideal mind for presiding over the tribunal, which leads us to consider what would be the characteristics, apart from integrity and honesty, which one would be inclined to postulate as necessary for the chairman of the tribunal. First of all, I think that a very appreciable amount of diplomacy and tact will be necessary and, in spite of the extremely powerful position which a judge has in a court, any judge who has been for a long time, or not so long a time, operating in our courts realises that with advocates who are apt to be impetuous, who are occasionally long-winded, and who are apt to be pernickety, tact and diplomacy are things which have to be exercised. Secondly, the chairman will have to be a master of the art of picking up complicated facts and, not merely picking up facts in an isolated way as if he was going through a syllabus or an inventory, but considering their bearing one upon the other, their importance and their interaction. That, again, is the whole training of a lawyer and of a judge and, in that respect, I think that, intellectually, a judge would be peculiarly suited. Lastly, he has been trained in a profession which, whatever people may say, has not merely the quality of the soldier, but has in its traditions a great deal of the approach of the priest. That may arouse dissent, suspicion or derision from people here. It is undoubtedly the case.

Any lawyer who is worthy of his salt would rather settle a case satisfactorily than fight it, and, over and over again, lawyers refuse briefs, and profitable briefs, because they tell their clients that, even if they won their case, they will lose in the ultimate analysis; and they will refuse to take instructions from clients to fight a case in a manner which may seem to them to be improper and calculated to bring discredit upon the people whom they represent. It is part of a lawyer's training to regard his client as a person for whom he has a sacred trust. That also is inbred into the profession and will be there if you choose a judge of the High Court.

I have spoken at some length on this subject and with a certain amount of emphasis. I believe that is your solution for the ideal chairman of the court, someone to be selected from existing High Court judges who are protected by their tenure and who are qualified by their character and attainments, with power, for no reason assigned, to substitute for him some other High Court judge as circumstances may require or dictate. I do believe that ultimately the success or failure of this measure will depend upon the chairman and may depend upon the adoption or the refusal by the Minister of this suggestion which I put before him with a mixture of humility, because he knows so much more about what he desires of the court and, at the same time, with such vigour as I have at my command, because it does seem to me that, anyhow, it is worthy of very serious consideration as to whether it is not the ideal solution.

Business suspended at 5.55 p.m. and resumed at 7 p.m.

Ón uair a gealladh an Bille seo dúinn, b'fhada linn go léir go dtabharfaí isteach é. Tá sé ar fáil anois againn agus sílim, ó thaobh a phrionsabail de, go bhfuil sé chomh hionmholta agus is féidir é a bheith. Ar é a léamh an chéad uair dom, bhí roinnt díomáidh orm faoi gur fágadh aicmí áirithe d'oibrithe as an gcomh-áireamh. Ar an gceist a chíoradh, áfach, agus go mórmhór ar theideal an Bhille d'iniúchadh, táim sásta gur fearr iad a fhágáil as agus iarracht a dhéanamh freastal ar a gcás sin trí Bhille faoi leith nó trí socrú éigin eile faoi leith. Is maith liom a thuigsint ón gcaint atá déanta ag an Aire, sa Dáil agus anseo, gur d'aonturas a fágadh na haicmí úd as an mBille seo agus go bhfuil a gcás á scrúdú aige.

Is fada 'n chéim ón uair, sa sémhadh, seachtú agus ochtú gcéadanna, a mbíodh ceárd-chumainn, cumainn maighistrí chomh maith le cumainn oibrithe, faoi dhroch-mheas agus faoi chosc dlí dá réir sin. Agus dála 'n scéil seo, is fiú dúinn a mheabhrú go raibh cumainn de mhaistrí coiscithe faoin dlí ar an gcuma chéanna agus ar na cuntair chéanna, le cumainn na n-oibrithe. Ní gá na cuntair sin a luadh ná a scrúdú; mar deirtear ina leithéid de chásanna: "d'imigh sin agus tháinig seo."

Is rud nádúrtha é an Bille seo do theacht ós ár gcomhair. Aithnímíd go léir a riachtanaí atá ceárd-chumainn agus tuigimid a mbuntáistí. Sa Stát seo go háirithe, d'aithin an Rialtas chomh tábhachtach agus atá a leithéid de chumainn, gur ritheadh Acht speisialta d'aonturas chun gluaiseacht na ceárd-chumannachta a shábháil ó achrann agus ó scrios agus na cumainn fhéin, cumainn na n-oibrithe go háirithe, a neartú agus a chur ar a leas. Faoin Acht chéanna, Acht na gCeárd-Chumann 1941, atá mé a rá, cuireadh i náirithe go mbeadh ceárdchumann ag na fostóirí nó ag na máistrí chomh maith.

Bhíodh sé á fhuagairt ar feadh tamaill go raibh an Rialtas atá anois ann ar neamh-shuim faoi chumainn ghairm-eagraíochta a bhunú. Níorbh fhíor sin ariamh. Má léitear an Bunreacht cífear go bhfuil luaite go soiléir ann, Airteagal a 15, Alt a 3, go bhféadfadh an Stát a leithéid de chumainn a bhunú. B'fhearr liom fhéin go háirithe nach dtónfaí cumainn de shaghas ar bith ar dhaoine; b'fhearr liom go dtiocfaidis chun cinn, ó na daoine féin ar an slí agus sa tráth a d'fheilfidis. Ar iad a bheith ann agus ar a bheith soiléir go raibh beannacht dhíreach agus cabhair an Stáit ag teastáil uathu ar mhaithe le leas an phobail bheinn i bhfábhar an Rialtais a ladar a chur isteach sa scéal. Ach amháin i gcásanna mar iad seo, b'fhearr liom nach mbeadh an Rialtas ina thimire le cumainn gairm-eagraíochta a bhunú.

I gcás an Acht Cheárd-Chumainn, 1941, bhí na cumainn ann shul má ritheadh an tAcht. Ba léir go raibh siad riachtanach agus ba léir freisin nach deagh-chríoch a bhéadh ar a gcuid imeachtaí gan an Rialtas do theacht isteach agus comhairle agus srianú éicin a chur orthu. Ón uair a cuireadh an tAcht sin agus ón uair a cuireadh Achta mar an Acht Coinníollacha Fostaíochta, 1936, agus Achta eile mar é i bhfeidhm, ba léir go raibh gá le céim eile ar aghaidh. Cuireadh eagraíocht rialta údarásach ar fhostóirí agus ar oibrithe. Ó rinneadh sin, do tuigeadh nar mhór beartas éigin a cheapadh le go mbeadh an deis go rialta agus go húdarásach ag an dá aicme ar chomhairle agus ar chaidreamh a dhéanamh do réir mar ba ghá. Bheireann an Bille seo an deis sin go cothrom dóibh. Ar a shon sin tá an Bille le moladh.

Sa Stát seo, is mór linn agus is mór againn an tsaoirse phearsanta. As ucht a mhéid agus atá an dúil againn an tsaoirse sin a choinneál agus a chosaint, ceadaitear do dhaoine oibriú nó staonadh ón obair do réir mar chítear dóibh is cóir, sé sin le rá, go gceadaítear an stailc agus an gnó-iadh nó "lock-out" sa Stát seo. San am chéanna, tá mórán daoine tagtha ar an tuairim nach ceart stailceanna nó iadh gnótha a bheith ann; ná fuil aon ghá leo a thuilleadh, muran cás dosheachanta é. Ba mhaith an rud dúinn a mheabhrú nach ionann stailc agus iadh gnótha sna laetha seo agus san am atá caite. Gortaíonn stadanna sa gcóras táirgeachta an pobal i bhfad níos measa agus i bhfad níos foirleithne ná mar dhéanadh stadanna den tsaghas seo fadó. Tá fó-roinnt an t-saothair tagtha chomh mór sin chun cinn anois agus tá an córas táirgeachta nó an córas soláthair, chómh casta, comh ilfhillteach, sa saol atá ann go bhféadfadh dream beag fhéin an tír frí chéile a chur i sáinn agus ar anchaoi gan mórán moille. Tugtar faoi deara, 'na cheann sin, an eagraíocht atá anois ar mháistrí agus ar oibrithe! Tugtar faoi deara an ciste mór airgid a bhíonn, go hiondúil ag na dreamanna éagsúla. Tugtar faoi deara an chabhair mhór a bhíonn le fáil trí'n stailc combáidheach nó trí ghnó-iadh combáidheach, má thógann na fostóirí ina gceann a leithéid a dhéanamh. Má chuimhnítear ar na nithe seo, tuigfear go réidh an fáth a bhfuiltear tagtha ar an intinn nach foláir beartas éigin a cheapadh a chuirfeas mí-thapaí mar an stailc agus gnó-iadh á seachaint.

Ní dóigh liom go bhfuil aon dream is láidre ar an tuairim sin ná na hoibrithe féin—na hoibrithe úd, go háirithe, atá tuigsionach, réasúnach. Is fada iad á rá go mba chóir an stailc a sheachaint agus is fada iad ag guidhe go dtiocfadh an lá go bhféad-faí ceisteanna páighe agus ceisteanna coinníollacha saothair i gcoitinne a phlé go rialta agus go ciallmhar agus faoi atmosféir na síochána, le deagh-thoil agus le dúil sa chomh-oibriú. Le linn an chogaidh, go mórmhór, fuair na hoibrithe amach—agus fuair na fostóirí amach freisin—go bhféadfaí sin a dhéanamh. Má rinneadh amhlaidh le linn an chogaidh trí na wage tribunals, fiafraítear cé'n fáth ná féadfaí leanúint den nós céanna sin tréimhse iarchogaidh. Cítear dom go bhfuil an deagh-chuspóir sin ion-fháighte faoin mBille seo.

Ó rinne mé tagairt do na wage tribunals a bhí ag feidhmiú le linn an chogaidh, ba mhaith liom a rá chomh mór agus atáimid uile buíoch de na daoine a bhí páirteach iontu agus a rinne an oiread sin leis na cúiseanna a bhíodh á bplé a réiteach chomh réasúnta agus a rinne. Níl fhios agam cé hiad na daoine uile a bhí páirteach sna tribunals seo, ach tá fhios againn uile an méid a rinne ar gcolléaga agus ar gcara an Seanadóir Seán Caimbéal san obair sin, moch deireannach, d'ainneoin fuacht, fliuchán nó doineann gheimhridh, níor loic sé ná níor sparáil sé é féin i gcúis na hoibrithe. Ba mhaith liom cathaoir-leach na dtribunal a luadh chomh maith. Dóibh sin agus do gach duine a rinne a dhícheall iontu, mar dúirt mé, táimid faoi chomaoin.

Beidh cúirt saothair agus páighe ann feasta de bhárr an Bhille seo d'achtú. Tá súil agam ná ligfear do lucht an mhísc ná do lucht an aighnis cill a dhéanamh di i náit an mhuilinn a bhfuil súil againn go léir leis. Bíodh na ceárd-chumannaithe agus na máistrí úd a bhfuil dúil sa dul-ar-aghaidh agus sa réasúntacht acu san áirdeall níos fearr feasta ná mar bhídis agus beidh rath ar an obair. Ba mhaith liom a thuilleadh cur síos a dhéanamh ar prionsabail agus ar bhrí an Bhille seo ach feictear dhom nach ceart dom tuilleadh moille a chur ar an Aire ná ar an Seanad, go mórmhór mar gheall ar a dheireannaí atá sé sa t-seiseon agus mar gheall ar a bhfuil d'obair le déanamh fós ag an Seanad.

Deirtear i dteideal an Bhille gur ceapadh é chun caidreamh muinteartha a chothú idir lucht oibre agus a bhfostóirí; le sásra a bhunú chun rataí páighe agus coinníollacha fostaíochta a rialú agus fós chun aighnis chéirde a sheachaint. Siúd iad cuspóirí an Bhille; is mór le rá iad, is cuspóirí uaisle iad. Tá téarmaí an Bhille mar tá sé, is cuspóirí iad atá ionshroichte —ar an gcuntar go dtabharfar faoin obair le deagh-thoil agus le dúil sa cheartas. Go dtugaidh Dia gur ar rún agus ar an intinn sin a raghaidh gach duine i mbun oibre na cúirte nua.

Like everybody else who has spoken in this and in the other House, I welcome this Bill. There are certain sections in it with which I should like to deal on the Committee Stage. I sincerely trust that the Minister will have the success for which he hopes under this Bill, though to my mind it will not make a whole lot of difference. The essence of the Bill is that it is arbitration, glorified arbitration, but the arbitration is to take place before an industrial dispute occurs, and that is the greatest virtue in the Bill. If the parties who are in dispute are prepared to submit their case to this court, the verdict of the court will have a far-reaching effect on them and it will certainly make the general public aware of the matter in dispute. To that extent the Bill is welcome and is a step in the right direction. I might say, incidentally, that it is being handled by a Minister who has shown himself very competent and capable for a considerable time in dealing with industrial disputes.

I do not know if the Bill will be a very great improvement on the system that has obtained in the Department up to now. The officials of the Department were very readily available, very accommodating and very useful and influential when disputes took place in the past, but it was only after a dispute had actually taken place that the Department came into it. This is a very definite improvement. The Department will have a court in which both sides will have confidence in submitting their case and they will get a decision or a recommendation on it. To that extent I believe it will reduce the number of industrial disputes.

On a former occasion in this House I said that I revelled in disputes—in strikes. I want to make that clear. I did, and I speak with 30 years' experience. There are very few people who have a closer association than I have with the big and the little disputes that have occurred throughout the country. I believe that at that time, 30 years ago, it was absolutely necessary for the workers to strike, and strike hard, in order that they would get some amelioration of the barbaric conditions obtaining at the time. Many men went to jail and many lost their lives in order to convince employers at that period that they were determined to get a little of the good things that existed in this country. They got their share of them. The comparatively good conditions that exist to-day are largely due to the turbulence of that period. That turbulence was necessary then. I do not believe turbulence is necessary at this stage. The employing class and the workers have learned their lesson and they realise that strikes are no longer necessary. They have a sympathetic public, and if they can justify their claims in this court they will have them established, and not only established, but regularised. They will prevent the sweating employer from taking advantage of what is called the fair employer in contracts and other types of undertakings.

This Bill will make for the reduction, if not the complete elimination, of industrial disputes in the future. Let us hope that it will achieve their complete elimination, though perhaps that is too much to hope for, but at least it is something to be aimed at. So far as industrial disputes are concerned, we have now a court where we can present our case for improved conditions and wages and working hours. There is no provision in the Bill dealing with victimisation, but that is a matter that can be dealt with on the Committee Stage. The most sensible speech we have heard was that delivered by Senator Douglas. I am almost in complete agreement with him in the line he has taken, but he might have gone a little further. He laid down a lot of conditions applying to the chairman and his remuneration and standing. I wonder would the Senator go a little further with me and agree that the chairman of the court should have no financial interest in any industrial undertaking?

Yes, I would.

I think that ought to be set out in the Bill. I hope I will have the Senator's support for an amendment of that nature. If a man has a financial interest in a number of industrial undertakings it may, but I do not say it will, influence his outlook. If the workers get an increase in wages and have their conditions improved, that may reduce the employers' profits or regular income. We ought to introduce a safeguard against that. He ought to be like Caesar's wife in a matter of this kind. Somebody talked about compulsory arbitration. We may at some period in this country have compulsory arbitration but then, like Australia, we may have a Labour Government in power and it would not be so very objectionable if that came about.

The Minister gave way to pressure in the Dáil and he changed the membership of the court from three individuals to five. All the arguments he used in favour of that change do not influence me; I think they were futile. He said the main argument for that change was that a man might want to consult a colleague. Why confine it to one colleague? Could he not have a whole union, a whole community to consult? There is no justification for the Minister's argument. I hope the Minister has still an open mind on the matter and will revert to the court of three people. At any rate, I will try him with an amendment.

There is another aspect of this measure, the one that Senator Counihan referred to in a rather abstract way. The general community are very much affected by this Bill and they ought to be concerned about it. It is quite true to say that any group of employers and workers can go to the court and get things adjusted, but what suits them may not suit the community. The Minister, at the very earliest moment, ought to make arrangements to control prices, because prices are very closely related to wages. There is no use in men getting into the vicious circle of getting increased wages when, in the following week, that increase and more would be necessary to meet the increased cost of living. The Minister has shown himself to be more than a man of average ability and I suggest that some measure must be taken to control prices because they affect the average life of the workers and the community generally.

I am glad to see that Senator Baxter is here. Senator Counihan is not here. Invariably, Senator Baxter has something to say regarding agriculture and the bad way the farmers are treated. If ever agriculture was badly treated it is badly treated in this Bill by being left out of it altogether.

Is the Senator speaking on behalf of agriculture now?

I merely want to say that if certain classes of workers are entitled to go to this court, there is no earthly reason why the agriculturist should not be able to appeal to the court to have his conditions improved. When we talk about agriculture we must remember it is not confined to farmers only. There are some labourers who are agriculturists just as much as the farmers. I hope Senator Baxter will support me in an amendment I will move to make it possible for the agricultural labourers to get their just rights and to have the same rights as any other citizens to appeal to an impartial court such as the one we propose to establish under this Bill. I am sure he will, because he is very much concerned about the rights of agricultural labourers. I think every farmer in this House will agree that this court should be available to the agricultural labourers and to others.

I am not going to follow Senator Counihan by referring to the present strike. Strikes in the old days of which I am talking were confined to unions. Strikes are now becoming fashionable. It is a long step from the day when people looked down on coal porters and dock labourers when they went on strike. I hope that this Bill will not have the effect of civil servants going on strike. Talking about such people, I believe that the employees of public boards and agricultural labourers, who are excluded from the ambit of this Bill, should have the right of ordinary workers and citizens to go to a court of this nature. Everybody has had a good word to say for this Bill. The Minister is very fortunate in having expressions both from employers' and workers' representatives that the Bill is a step in the right direction and that everybody wishes its success.

The object of this Bill as set out is: "to make further and better provision for promoting harmonious relations between workers and their employers...." To carry out the object of the Bill a body called a labour court is being set up. If the workers and employers were left to themselves it would be very difficult to promote harmonious relations between them. So, under the guise of a labour court, the Legislature will call into being a neutral, a person who stands between workers and employers, to make the object of the Bill a success. The court whether it consists of three members or five members will contain equal numbers of workers' members and of employers' members. Assuming that the court consists of three there will be a chairman, a workers' member and an employers' member.

The Bill provides that the workers' member shall be nominated by a trade union, or by the Minister from a nomination made by a trade union and, likewise, the employers' member shall be a nominee or a representative of a trade union of employers. In my opinion the workers' member and the employers' member of the court are thinly veiled advocates for their respective causes. The workers' member is chosen because he has the confidence of the workers, and the employers' member because he has the confidence of the employers. Therefore, they cancel out. They may agree in minor details, but there are bedrock differences which cannot be overcome by the workers' member or by the employers' member sitting alone.

The Bill, therefore, provides for a chairman. This chairman must be neither a nominee of a trade union nor of an employers' trade union. He is nominated by the Minister. One of the qualities which such a chairman must possess is that of impartiality, as between workers and employers. But he is really more than that. He must occupy a special position of independence. In other words, he must have the status and the position of a judge of the High Court in his own sphere. Some time ago I was reading a review of the life of the late Mr. Justice Cardozo, who was one of the most eminent lawyers of recent years in the United States Supreme Court. He was formerly Chief Judge of the Court of Appeal there. In that review it was set out that a judge must have certain qualities. He must have character, he must have ability, he must have patience, he must have tact, he must have courtesy and, as a judge in a court of law, he must have knowledge of law. But there is something else, above and beyond all that, that a judge must have and that is temperament.

The temperament of a judge is that indefinable something which is necessary for the work in order that that work may be a success. Therefore, for the position of chairman of the labour court the chairman must have the requisite temperament. It was stated in the review that when judges are being appointed their temperament for the position is unknown, and that there the gamble lies. They may be eminent lawyers at the Bar, and be excellent while practising at the Bar, but when appointed to the bench they may make hopeless judges. They have all the qualities I mentioned, knowledge of law, character and all the rest, but have not got the judicial temperament. Therefore, in this case what we require is the special type of temperament which will make the chairman a success in his court because the success of the court depends upon the success of the chairman.

Senator Douglas and Senator Kingsmill Moore have raised the position of the chairman under the Bill. The chairman under the Bill occupies very little space. His position is left largely in the air. Under Section 10, sub-section (3), it is provided that the chairman shall be appointed by the Minister and shall hold office on such terms as shall be fixed by the Minister when appointing him. It is delightfully vague. He may hold it for one year or five years or for life. In other words, the Minister has an opportunity there of making an experiment with the chairman. Of course, this Bill is an experimental one and, as the success of the Bill when made an Act depends upon the chairman, it is only right and proper that there should be no risk taken of appointing a chairman, for, say, life or some lengthy period, who by temperament would be unsuitable for the position. Of course, while I compare the position of the chairman of this court with the position of the High Court judge in his own sphere, it is quite possible that a High Court judge might not be absolutely suitable for it, but, as against a shot in the dark which the Minister may have to make in appointing some person who is not a High Court judge, I think the balance is in favour of the High Court judge. Of course, there are High Court judges and High Court judges but there is more than one High Court judge.

There are a number of High Court judges available and, of course, some of the qualities which the chairman of this court must possess are that he must be a good mixer; he must have a knowledge of men; he must have commonsense; he must not be too big for his boots. These are qualities which may be found amongst High Court judges and they may not be found amongst laymen. I use the word "laymen" as distinct from judges. Therefore, High Court judges, I think, cannot be ruled out as possible chairmen, but the one point in favour of the appointment of a High Court judge is this, that the High Court judge is independent; his tenure is independent; he will not get any increase of salary; he will not better his position by being chairman of a court and at the same time he may inspire confidence in the parties between whom he must arbitrate because, as Senator Foran said, and it is true I think, this is a glorified arbitration court. I agree thoroughly with what Senator Kingsmill Moore said upon the question of the appointment of a High Court judge. In fact, I had arrived at the same conclusion as he had without any consultation whatever and he has expressed my views on that matter in far more eloquent language than I can express them.

There is another reason why I think the lawyer chairman should not be ruled out. The lawyer, as Senator Kingsmill Moore has stated, is absolutely detached as between the employers and the workers. He has no axe to grind as between one side or the other. He sees, or is bound to see, everything objectively and, seeing it objectively, at the same time, he is by his training enabled to do justice as between man and man. That is the object of this Bill: by promoting harmonious relations between workers and employers, to do justice as between the workers and the employers. That is the real object of the Bill: to treat the worker fairly and to treat the employer fairly. The judge has innately, I should say, a sense of justice and he will, I suggest, make a very suitable chairman. Of course, the temperament which I have mentioned will be necessary for this type of court.

There are certain judges who have different temperaments as far as different courts are concerned. One judge may be a very good judge in the Supreme Court. Another judge may be a very good judge hearing cases on circuit, listening to witnesses being examined, but behind it all there is that training to regard things objectively and that is what will be required here where you have a court consisting of three men, two of whom are, to all intents and purposes, advocates for their respective sides. Therefore, the chairman must stand aloof and must make his own decision and in making that decision he must be independent, not only of the Minister but of any influences which may be brought to bear upon him either by workers or their employers.

Therefore, I suggest that the Minister should consider the possibility of appointing or making provision in the Bill by amendment for the appointment of a High Court judge as chairman. As Senator Kingsmill Moore has pointed out, this is an experimental Bill and any particular chairman may be an experiment and if he must be changed then the High Court judge can be changed and another High Court judge appointed without any loss of prestige or without suffering any loss after his term of office as chairman of the court has come to an end.

There is one other matter in the Bill to which I wish to refer, that is Section 33. Under Section 33 it is provided that if any question should arise in any proceedings in a court of law as to the interpretation of a registered employment agreement or its application to any particular person, it shall be referred to the labour court whose decision shall be final. Strictly speaking, of course, it is the function of a court of law to interpret a document, that is to construe a document, whether it is a contract or a will or a deed but under the Bill the Legislature is providing that a question which is usually determined by a court of law must in this case be determined by a court which in all probability will consist of three laymen.

I do not know exactly the object of that Section 33, or whether there is any objection to the interpretation of a registered employment agreement by a court of law, but, assuming that there is, and assuming that the Legislature is of opinion that the interpretation of that agreement could be carried out by this labour court, then the section should make some provision for the reference back to the court of law. This section, in my opinion, will require a good deal of amendment.

It is unconstitutional.

In the Courts of Justice Act, 1924, Section 83 provided for what is known as a consultative case stated. In other words, if a district justice has any difficulty on a question of law, this section empowers him to refer that question of law to the High Court for determination. In a later Act, the Courts of Justice Act, 1936, there is provision for the reference of a question of law by the High Court on circuit to the Supreme Court. In each case the court, having dealt with the question in the first instance, must defer its decision on the matter until the court of law has determined the question of law referred to it.

In this case, a question may arise in a court of law as to the interpretation of a registered employment agreement. Under this section, the question is referred to the labour court and it is provided that its decision shall be final. What does that mean? Its decision as to its interpretation shall be final, but there is no provision for the adjournment of the matter before the court of law pending the determination by the labour court of the question referred to it. Therefore, the section is incomplete and should go on to provide that, if any such question should arise in a court of law, the decision should be adjourned or deferred pending the determination by the labour court of the question referred to it. I make that suggestion in order to clarify matters, as there would be no point in referring the question to the labour court to determine and letting the matter end with the determination. It is being referred for a special purpose and will have to go back then to the court of law, so the section should be elaborated.

The presence of the section in the Bill is a further argument in favour of the appointment of a High Court judge as chairman of the labour court. He would have legal training in the interpretation of documents and have practice in the interpretation of registered employment agreements. He would have the benefit of the assistance of the workers' member and the employers' member of the court. It would be of considerable advantage in the interpretation of these agreements by the labour court that its chairman should be a judge. While I put forward a case that the chairman ought to be a High Court judge, I do so not because he is a judge but because, in the circumstances of the case, he is a person whose training would make him eminently suitable to preside over a court in which, above all, the impartiality and independence of the chairman are necessary for success.

This Bill is unique in many respects. It is unique in the first place because of the measure of agreement upon which it is based. The Minister was careful at all stages to consult with the parties who are going to be concerned in the administration of the code which this Bill establishes. I think it may be said, not merely from what we have heard here to-day but from what we have heard outside, that it embodies a very large measure of agreement, which makes its consideration a simple matter for us and tends to reduce materially the number of amendments which normally would be submitted in this House.

There is another unique aspect of the Bill which is of some significance. It intends to establish, in the relationship between employers and workers and between workers and workers, the principle of arbitration as distinct from the practice, hitherto followed in this country, of determining those disputes in an ordinary law court. One will remember that, prior to 1934, the practice under the Workmen's Compensation Act was to regard as an arbitrator the chairman of the Quarter Sessions, or, as he was later called, the Circuit Court judge. That was departed from in 1934, when we got rid of the arbitration principle and set up a judicial functionary in the person of the Circuit Court judge.

We are now reverting more to the practice that formerly prevailed—in relation to workmen's compensation, at any rate—in setting up here an arbitration tribunal, or something equivalent to it, to displace the court of law where a dispute arises between employers and workmen or between workmen and workmen. I say that because this Bill is not merely dealing with disputes between employers and workmen—the definition section shows clearly that it is intended to deal with any disputes between workmen and workmen.

The main thing which may put our minds at rest is that the Minister in preparing this Bill was careful to secure the largest possible measure of agreement. I think he has been eminently successful. He has been tactful, diplomatic and careful. The speech which he made on the Second Reading in the Dáil determined the future character of the Bill and the line he took in considering amendments on the Committee Stage in the other House makes our task a very simple one.

In regard to the principles involved, people talk loosely about arbitration and various methods of settling disputes, but very few advert to the principle involved. Someone has said that "Civilisation is the art of living together in peace," and we have evolved a system by which we secure that a dispute between two neighbours about a turf bank or the meanderings of a mearing drain will be settled peacefully. At one time it was common to settle it by the sleán or the hatchet, but nowadays, no matter what the dispute may be—between shopkeepers and customers, between landlords and tenants or between neighbouring farmers—we go to court and the judge who sits on the bench and looks wise, whether he is wise or not, settles the whole thing. We go home satisfied, or nearly so, unless someone like Senator Kingsmill Moore can make us appeal to a higher and more expensive court. At one time we were never happy unless we had an appeal in the House of Lords or the Privy Council. Now that is all gone and the Circuit Court judge settles these affairs calmly and peacefully.

Let us take the other extreme where nations fall out. We have been growing accustomed to the fact that there was a court at The Hague which settled, or attempted to settle, disputes between nations. A great number of nations accepted the findings of that international court. There was, however, one domain in which we refused to accept any intervention by an outsider, and that was when we were dealing with disputes which arose out of wages and conditions of employment between employers and workers.

That mentality has prevailed here as it has in a number of other countries— for instance, in Great Britain and America up to the present day— although in most European countries machinery was established very many years ago—fifty, sixty and a hundred years ago, and in France in the seventeenth century—by which these disputes were resolved by some form of tribunal having coercive powers. In Australia and in New Zealand, to which the Minister referred in the course of his speech, you have an arbitration court which is different from the one that we are providing under this Bill, although it would be wrong to say that every industrial dispute in Australia or New Zealand is resolved by the arbitration court. Actually, that is not so. It is only in the case of organisations which are registered under the Acts setting up these industrial tribunals that arbitration is compulsory. As I mentioned I think, here before, you frequently have strikes in New Zealand and Australia, and this Bill will not prevent strikes here. In fact it does not seek to prevent strikes. The system is to be entirely voluntary, and I would imagine that the Minister, and most people, would probably rely more on the moral support behind this Bill rather than on anything that appears to be coercive in its construction.

The fact of the matter is, as I understand it, that the axis around which the whole system revolves is the labour court. A good deal of the discussion this afternoon was devoted to the composition and conception of that court. We should start off with this clear understanding that this is not a labour court. This is not a court at all in the strict sense. There are certain things essential to the definition of the word "court". One of them is sanctions—the power to enforce its decisions. There is no such power conferred on the tribunal which we call a labour court in this Bill. The court is to have power to give directions on a complaint made to it, and in the event of the person to whom a direction is given refusing to carry it out, there is a method by which that person is taken to a court of law and punished; but there is no power of sanction or punishment inherent in this court at all.

While I have the greatest sympathy with the view that has been expressed by Senator Kingsmill Moore and Senator Ryan in relation to the chairman, I think that their advocacy has been based on a misunderstanding. If it were true that this court did possess the attributes of a regular court of law, then I think the argument that the chairman should be a trained lawyer or a judge, with a permanent position, would be unanswerable, but that is not the position. What is aimed at here, in my opinion, is the bringing together of five people who will inspire confidence in the parties who will have recourse to the court, and who will inspire confidence in the tribunal, constituted in the manner provided in the Bill, because, in the first place it will appear to be competent. It is not sufficient that it should be competent: it must appear competent and must appear honest to those who are going to have recourse to it. These attributes are not just enough. The members of the court must also have common sense and tact. You are dealing with people whose views are in conflict in relation to conditions of employment and rates of wages and in relation to the violation of agreements, so that you must have as members of the tribunal five people who understand the mentality of those who appear before them, and who will be able to give a judgment or a direction, whatever it may be, in such a form as to convince all the parties that justice has been done in the way that a district justice or a Circuit Court judge when he delivers a judgment on a very controversial matter, satisfies people that they have got fair play. I think that is what you must aim at: to get a tribunal that will convince the parties concerned that they are getting fair play.

In my view, the person who is going to play the greatest part in this machinery is not the chairman of the court, but the chief conciliation officer. Actually, when Senator Kingsmill Moore was referring, this afternoon, to Sir George Askwith, he was referring to a conciliation officer, to a person who was not president of a court, who had no power to call people before him because there is no such power in English law, but rather to a person who had ability, tact and sincerity to intervene when a dispute was threatened and say: "Look here boys, can we not discuss this thing quietly and see if there is any means of settlement with out a general strike"? It was because those on both sides of the dispute believed that he was an honest man, that they knew he was resourceful and would find some means of suggesting to them some way of avoiding the dispute without giving away anything material, that they sat around a table with Sir George Askwith, and in that way brought about a settlement. Now, in my view, while the chairman and members of the court will hold important functions, the really important functionary under this whole system will be the chief conciliation officer who, I think, will be appointed by the court and not by the Minister.

We must recognise that in this Bill the Minister is shedding all his responsibilities in relation to industrial disputes and to wages and conditions of employment. The trade boards set up by the Minister are going under this Bill. The conciliation machinery maintained by the Minister and his Department is going, and in its place is being set up a court which will take over the functions of the Minister in relation to industrial disputes, negotiations, arbitrations, and a very wide field of industrial activity. On that account we must attach the utmost importance to the character of the court. For that reason, I want to suggest that it is vitally important that a capable person, absolutely detached from any interest on either side, will be in the chair. It is almost equally important that the other four members of the court will be people of discretion, judgment and common sense, and not mainly people put up to fill jobs. I say that with all sincerity, because I think that the whole thing will depend on the absolute independence and integrity of this court.

As the Minister has pointed out, there is no obligation on anybody to use the machinery of the court. There is no obligation on anybody to go into this court to-morrow, if it were established, to have a bonus Order recorded. There is no obligation upon anybody to take his employment agreement to the court to be registered. Certain things follow if a bonus Order is recorded, or if a wages agreement is registered. Until the recording is done or until the registration is made, nothing follows whatever and there is no obligation on anybody to have a bonus Order recorded or a wages agreement registered. You will get registration and the recording only when the unions and the employers' organisations—I would say mainly the unions—realise that this machinery is an honest attempt to preserve industrial peace by doing justice, rather than to preserve peace merely by some form of expediency.

I said a moment ago that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent strikes. I want to repeat that because some people outside have been talking about this Bill as if it were some colossal trick that had been put across on the community to put workers or employers—I imagine mainly workers— in chains. I think that is a very undesirable state of feeling to develop. As I have said, there is nothing in the Bill to take away freedom from any worker or employer or any organisation of workers or employers. There is this, however, to be said. While there are certain punishments provided for workers' organisations when a strike takes place for the purpose of circumventing the provisions of an employment agreement, there are no equivalent punishments provided where the employer is the aggressor. I am not so sure that the remedy is a simple one. I draw attention to the matter because I think it likely that in the discussions that are going to take place in the next six or 12 months, emphasis will be laid on the fact that a trade union which promotes or encourages a strike in contravention of the provisions of an employment agreement is going to be penalised. There is no penalty provided, however, where the employer is the aggressor.

I am not suggesting for a moment that that is a deliberate act on the part of the Minister or those assisting him in the preparation of this Bill. I realise that a difficulty arises in covering that ground because an employer without any dispute at all can close down his factory and say to his workers: "I have no material; I have no money with which to buy raw materials and I shall shut down." Who is going to contradict him? I see that difficulty but I do urge the matter is one to which the Minister could give some attention between now and the Committee Stage so that if there is any ground for the suspicion that a distinction has been made in imposing penalties as between employers and workers, the appearance of that distinction should be removed.

My feeling about the machinery provided here is that it is too limited in its scope. I think a number of members of this House will probably argue that it is not too limited and that, in fact, it should be limited very definitely in the beginning. I would, however, draw attention to the fact that, in other countries where machinery of a similar kind has been provided, the labour court has a very much wider field of activity than is provided for it here. Actually its functions are very restricted here. It registers employment agreements and the Bill provides certain consequences where there is a violation of the agreement by either side. The court has power to intervene in certain disputes and has power even to publish an award in certain cases. It has certain powers in relation to the recorded bonus Orders. There it stops. In many European countries, functions in relation to individual disputes arising out of conditions of employment are handed over to the labour court. At random I looked through a list a moment ago and I found that individual disputes arising out of collective agreements in Belgium, France, Denmark, Norway, Czechoslovakia and Jugoslavia, are actually referred to the labour court. In France, I think, the function of the labour court is restricted to dealing with matters which arise out of agreements. It does not purport to assist in the preparation of agreements; it simply determines what the agreements mean in relation to particular work.

I do not suggest that we should take that long step immediately, but I do urge that we might have in our minds that the labour court should develop in such a way as to ensure that, let us say, actions in relation to workmen's compensation, actions for wrongful dismissal, all these matters which are now expensive in the case of poor people, might be tried by the labour court in an inexpensive manner rather than by the expensive form of machinery which obtained in the past.

There is one other matter to which I should like to refer. If the court is to succeed and to inspire confidence in its operations, it is essential that if it intervenes in a dispute, whether on its own initiative or on the initiative of one of the parties, its findings, whatever they may be or whatever form they may take, should be available quickly. In some of the European countries, the labour court is required to pronounce judgment within three days after a matter is referred to it. In the case of the Railway Wages Board, which has operated for a period of 21 years in this country, a decision must be come to by the board within 28 days. There is generally a feeling, amongst not merely workers but amongst employers, that these tribunals are slow-moving bodies and there is generally a desire for some provision which will secure early decisions. The Minister did a good deal to secure that there will be early decisions when he decided that this court should act in two divisions. It means that the chairman, the deputy-chairman and the other four members of the court constitute, in practice, two courts of three members each. That will permit, should the occasion arise, of having a court sitting in Dublin and a court sitting in Cork simultaneously or in Galway or in Limerick simultaneously. That is going to be a tremendous advantage, particularly if the court will be required, as I think it will be required, to intervene more in industrial disputes than to engage in any other form of activity. As the Minister has said, the recording of bonus Orders and standard rate Orders will be automatic. A clerk in the court office will do the recording, I take it in most cases, unless there is some doubt as to whether it is a document that should be recorded or unless objection to the recording is made.

Once the court gets properly established and lays down principles for determining its functions in relation to the registration of agreements, registration will be automatic. But it is in relation to disputes and threatened disputes that the court will be most frequently called upon to intervene and it is in relation to these matters that it will need to act with expedition. I think, therefore, that the Minister is to be warmly commended on the decision taken to have, in fact, two courts, if needs be, working simultaneously. That is all I have to say at this stage in relation to the Bill, except to extend to it a very cordial welcome.

The Minister must experience a great feeling of satisfaction in that his efforts in this Bill to please two rather difficult parties—possibly the Minister has been endeavouring to please three rather difficult parties in the special circumstances—have met with a certain measure of success. The Minister has endeavoured to please everybody and he has, with great good luck, and I suppose with considerable personal agility, escaped the fate of the proverbial man and his ass, because he has succeeded in arriving at a measure of success. I rise to express my sympathy with the Minister and my hope that the Bill, which is necessarily experimental, will be a success.

With Senator Douglas, I had my name to a motion in 1940, which proposed, not compulsory arbitration, but compulsory investigation before disputes took place and a tribunal was then suggested. The Minister has taken the line of deciding what the Bill would be like entirely in Irish conditions, which, at the moment, happen to be rather difficult. He has decided entirely against the principle of compulsion and in that, I think, he is right. He has also decided—and I think he is also right—that it would be better that different trades should come to an agreement amongst themselves rather than that legislation should be passed which would apply generally. The Bill contains the principle that, instead of a general direction through legislation, there should be a settlement of the wages and conditions in each industry according to its own conditions. That is obviously a reasonable and sensible conclusion.

There are certain things about the Bill which are defective. The Bill has been very much handled, very much talked about, and the Minister has made concessions here to one party and there to another party and, naturally, any such measure is bound to have defects. But, for my part, the position that I would take up about the Bill, and that we all should take up about the Bill, is that it must be allowed to work and that, if the court can create confidence, we are bound to have amendments, probably agreed amendments, which will remedy the defects that Senator Duffy sees, and which may possibly increase the scope of the work of the court.

There are some obvious things which one can say about Section 4, which excludes a great many people from the purview of the Bill. The Minister will probably tell me that it is not possible for him in this particular Bill to decide how the State is to come to agreements with its employees. But, surely, it is obvious that, when he excludes teachers of all kinds, civil servants, and employees of local authorities, the State cannot be in the position of recommending to ordinary employers and ordinary workers that they must settle their disputes or ought to settle their disputes by a form of agreement and that they ought to go before the court, if necessary, before they get into actual industrial conflict, and, at the same time, maintain the position that the State as an employer must have the first and the last word and will not submit to any form of conciliation machinery.

I am not advocating any form of compulsory arbitration or arbitration at all for the moment for State employees, but most certainly, like everything else, these things are on the way and they are bound to come. There is bound to be machinery set up which will not only obviate such strikes as the lamentable dock strike which exists in Dublin at present, but also obviate any strike like the teachers' strike.

The Minister, who has displayed such persistence and such ingenuity in this matter of industrial disputes, will eventually have to address himself to the other question, whether the State will have to get out of the position it is in at present of saying: "Do not do as I do, but do as I tell you." That is the position of the State at present with regard to industrialists and trade unionists; that they ought to settle disputes in a particular way and that the State will not settle its disputes in an analogous way. I do not subscribe to that particular method. There ought to be machinery for teachers, civil servants and the employees of local authorities, and in that machinery there will have to be a yielding from the present Governmental attitude—that when they make a final offer they have made a final offer and nothing more can be done. I register that as a defect in the Bill. Perhaps the Minister was well advised not to complicate the Bill by that particular matter, because he has a defence against me at the moment by saying: "It is not in the Bill, and I cannot put it into the Bill now. The Minister for Finance at some time is going to do something about it." Departments of Finance are masters of the art of putting things on the long finger.

With regard to the court, I am inclined to agree much more with Senator Duffy than with my colleague, Senator Ryan. In the first place the word "court" perhaps may be a misnomer. What the Minister is really endeavouring to get is a committee of five persons, with a chairman, to consider the matter in an amicable manner, rather than a court which will come to a decision upon fixed principles and precedents. I think that Senator Ryan, when advocating that a High Court judge or a lawyer should necessarily be the chairman of this court, was rather construing the word "court" too narrowly and not contemplating the actual type of court which is contemplated in the Bill and which, I am sure, is what the Minister contemplates.

When Senator Ryan says that labour representatives and employers' representatives will necessarily be advocates, I think he does not realise the way in which, over a long period of years, employers' representatives and workers' representatives have been able to sit down together and talk quite calmly. The court that is in the Bill does not contemplate at all a chairman sitting on a bench and an employers' representative who, in the case of a particular application, thinks the employers coming before the court are right and a labour representative who says: "This union is right, no matter what it wants". The Minister contemplates, and the Bill contemplates, and I think it is feasible, that you will get an employers' representative and a labour representative who, with the chairman, will listen to what the people have to say on both sides of the dispute, who will not have a preconceived idea, and who will have considerable experience and considerable knowledge of the kind of disputes analogous to the one which they are considering; and that the chairman, instead of being aloof and deciding without hearing the other members of the court, will consult with the other members of the court and will find in them reasonable people.

The Minister mentioned in his introductory speech a case where there may be one employers' representative and two workers' representatives on the same side. I think that that is actually possible. I think, therefore, that the notion that the representatives of the employers and the workers are necessarily advocates in the particular case is not a sound one and, for that reason, to advocate a High Court judge on that basis would, I think, be quite wrong. At the same time, I would not exclude a lawyer myself, but I do not think a lawyer is necessarily the best person. What I do think is sound in Senator Ryan's and Senator Kingsmill Moore's argument is, that the person appointed, whoever he may be, should certainly have the tenure of a High Court judge. That, I think, is the real position, whether he is a lawyer or not. There are people who are not lawyers and who could do this job. The Minister, for example, stated that the court should be expeditious and impartial and act with common-sense. I quite agree with him. But, perhaps, people do not realise—I often had occasion to comment upon it myself—what impartiality really means.

To be impartial does not mean that you must be right—far from it. It means that you must give your judgment on your own convictions, to the best of your own ability, and not in accordance with the interests of some outside party; and it means that you must not only do that, but that you must appear to do it. For example, if a lawyer were appointed, he would have to get the tenure of a High Court judge, and, if a civil servant were appointed, he would have to be completely divorced from the Department and he would have to get the same independence as the judges enjoy. In that I agree with Senator Douglas, not so much because the civil servant, if he remained in the Department, would be swayed by the Minister. Perhaps he would not; perhaps the Minister would not make any attempt to sway him, but this is a small country and it would be always said here that he was a civil servant and he had to do what the Minister wanted. From the Minister's point of view and from the point of view of the individual it would be absolutely necessary that he should have complete independence and impartiality.

While I do not think that necessarily a High Court judge would be appointed, or would be the best person to appoint, most certainly the person appointed should get High Court tenure. It would be very difficult to get a person to take on a job of this kind for five years if he feels that at some point or other he might have a quarrel and might be removed. The matter is so important and the expense so unimportant—the loss that would be incurred by giving the person appointed a pension after three or five years—that I think if the Minister should put himself in the position that he appoints somebody who may resign and get a pension, it would be cheap. In other words, what you are trying to do is so important and, if you are successful, the results will be so beneficial, that one should not hesitate on comparatively small things, such as the risk that the person appointed would be unsuitable and would be retired or would retire. The Minister should make every effort to secure that the person appointed will get good terms and will be not only impartial and independent, but will have all the outward trappings and appearance of impartiality and independence.

The notion that seemed to me to be inherent in Senator Ryan's speech was that representatives of the workers and representatives of employers would not sit down together but would be at variance with one another, and the chairman's business would be to keep them quiet. I think that is, I am tempted to say, old-fashioned. There is plenty of experience to the contrary. This Bill is experimental. It has been fashioned rather laboriously to meet peculiar conditions, over which the Minister has no control, in Irish labour circles. It deserves the goodwill of everybody and should be treated as something which is an experiment and which will have to be amended. But, as the Minister realises, just the same as the rest of us, the all-important thing is the court. As regards the constitution of that court, nothing should be done in a skimpy or tight way; everything should be done to ensure that the best people will be got and that the best conditions will be secured for them, so that they may inspire confidence, and a certain amount of common sense and capacity to understand the problems of the ordinary people might be much more beneficial to the chairman of the court than a profound knowledge of law.

The Bill which the Minister has submitted to the House for its Second Reading this afternoon may well prove, when it becomes an Act, to be one of the most important pieces of labour legislation placed on the Statute Book in recent years. From time to time the Oireachtas has had under consideration various proposals for the determination of industrial disputes. Whilst nothing definite ever has emerged from these discussions, it would be true, I think, to say that every participant in them—no matter what particular interest they may have represented—frankly and freely admitted that it was highly desirable that the modern social organism should not be periodically disturbed by disputes between employers and workers in regard to wages and general conditions governing the contract of service.

And, on these occasions, too, it was further urged that everything possible should be done, even to the extent of taking legal power, to compel the submission of these disputes to the determination of compulsory arbitration; and if not that, then at least so to order and regulate the relations between capital and labour as to reduce to a minimum the impact of these disputes not only on our own economic lives, but on the lives of the community as a whole.

We have had, too, on occasion, the assumption by a large number of well-meaning, but petulant, people, that industrial disputes only could be determined by the method of compulsory arbitration; or if that method was not acceptable to those concerned in such disputes, then by the complete legal banning of strikes and locks-out. The advocacy of such methods in our industrial relations always did appear to me to be fraught with ultimate disaster; for, instead of having the effect their advocates intended it should have—or believed it would have—it always seemed to me that these arbitrary methods would only have the effect of exacerbating those involved in industrial disputes to such a degree that they almost certainly would have a hardening effect on those against whom their ill-advised proposals were directed. Very wisely, however, the Minister, in the Bill before the House, has eschewed the temptation to introduce any element of compulsion into it, and has refused to implement any proposals along those lines. Instead, however, I think the House will agree with me that, in his whole conception of this measure, in its detailed submission to the Dáil, and in the form in which it has emerged from that House for the consideration of the Seanad, the Minister has manifested in no uncertain manner, a keen desire to avoid anything that could, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as of a compulsory nature.

The outstanding feature of it, and the one that appeals to me most, is its completely voluntary aspect. There is no obligation on any union or organisation to bring itself within the ambit of the Bill. They are perfectly free to carry on as they are at present and to continue their own existing methods of determining their wages and general conditions of employment. Rather, however, does the Bill hold out the promise that, if and when a union elects to come within its jurisdiction, it may record its wages agreements and bonus Order awards with the labour court it is proposed to set up, and these wages agreements and bonus awards together, by virtue of their recording with the labour court, then become the legally enforceable wages; a considerable advance, I suggest, on the former not altogether satisfactory position in this respect.

Realist, too, that he is, the Minister very wisely has refrained in this Bill from falling into the temptation to provide legal machinery for the banning of strikes or lock-outs. In that, I think, he has demonstrated a very sound judgment. He has assumed, and rightly assumed, I should imagine, that in the vast majority of cases, in well-organised trade unions of employers and workers, the maintenance of peace in industry is a desideratum so persistently pursued, and an objective so strongly and constantly cherished by both sides, not only in their own particular interest, but in the general economic interests of the community and of the common good of the country as a whole, that no such measure is necessary or desirable.

In the Bill before the House the Minister has endeavoured, I think, to set up a system of voluntary negotiation and wage-fixing machinery, which, if not completely satisfactory, will go a long way towards eliminating the worst features of industrial strife. The main objective sought to be attained in it is that all matters calculated to jeopardise industrial peace should be brought within the immediate jurisdiction of the labour court which Section 10 proposes to establish.

In that connection I should like to correct a misconception on the part of some Senators when they say that agricultural workers do not come within the ambit of this Bill. They were brought within it in the last stages of the Bill in the other House, and I think they are provided for.

For Part VI.

I thought they were brought in at a later stage.

Yes, for Part VI.

If the experience gained, and the better atmosphere created between those bodies of employers and workers, who will participate in the operation of this Bill, do not ultimately render unnecessary an appeal to force, by either party to a dispute, to settle industrial differences, it certainly will in my opinion have the effect of arresting the tendency to seek a solution in that direction.

The measure itself as it now stands appears to me to be not only the reflexion of a general desire on the part of the community as a whole for a saner approach to the consideration of our industrial problems, but it also represents, in so far as my knowledge goes, a fairly general and insistent demand from the trade union movement itself for the enforcement of wages and conditions of employment, and that demand, in my opinion, for new machinery, has become more clamant, as a result of the experience gained by both workers and employers in the operation of the advisory wages tribunals.

As the Minister has told us in his speech, this Bill will replace the machinery of the advisory wages tribunals set up under Emergency Powers Order, and which have been operating as a wage-fixing machine during the past few years. While deploring the inadequacy of the financial provisions made under that Order to meet a 70 per cent. increase in the cost of living, I would like to place on record now, as another opportunity may not present itself, my appreciation of the manner in which these tribunals functioned.

That they served a useful purpose during the period of the emergency and that they were carried out in a fair and impartial manner, with due and careful regard for the representations made to them by both employers and workers, very few of those who participated in them, either as applicants before the tribunals, or as members of the tribunals themselves, will deny.

I do not want the House to think that in saying what I am now about to say I am acting in the role of devil's advocate. There have been, however, inside and outside the Oireachtas, rather inelegant references, to say the least of them, to the eminent legal men who acted, from time to time, as chairmen of these tribunals. Their suitability and their capacity for these posts have been called in question, and as one who served under four chairmen—one of them is now a member of the Circuit Court and one was then a district justice, the other two being eminent senior counsel—I want to say that so far as my experience went, every one of these four gentlemen acted in a painstaking manner and in a very impartial manner, at least in the cases in which I served with them. When I say they acted in an impartial manner, the word "impartial" bears the connotation already given to it by Senator Hayes. I felt pretty hurt myself at these references made in the Oireachtas and outside, and I think it only right and proper for me to say that, so far as my experience of these four gentlemen went, they acted in accordance with what might be described as the best traditions of the Irish Bar.

My experience of these tribunals and the administrative side of them have convinced me that we have an excellent Civil Service. I had no doubt about it, but my views in that regard have been copper-fastened by my experience of the Minister's Department during the years I was associated with these tribunals. I think I acted on more of these tribunals than any other Labour representative, and I would like to pay a tribute to the efficiency, on the administrative side, of the highest official of the Department to the most junior member. Nobody has ever referred in an uncomplimentary way to these tribunals, and it is only fitting that I should take this opportunity of paying a tribute to the Civil Service in the administration of this very necessary device for wage fixing during the emergency period.

This Bill would seem to me to reflect a fairly accurate appreciation of the industrial labour position as it exists to-day and to manifest a very sincere desire on the part of the Minister to help us all towards a reasonable and a rational solution of our difficulties in regard to industrial disputes. I think it is due to him to say too—it has already been referred to—that, prior to its introduction, the Minister consulted the various organisations of workers and employers who would be directly concerned with the Bill, and I think his action in consulting these people is one that might be copied by other Ministers in the production and presentation of legislation.

The Minister has told us that this is an agreed measure and I do not wish at this stage to say anything in regard to the provisions of the Bill. The Minister, however, has succeeded, I think, in embodying in the measure a comprehensive labour code, embracing every aspect of the industrial complex. He has laid a foundation on which, I believe, with the co-operation and good-will of all parties concerned, it will be possible to build a machine capable of effecting, in a reasonable and orderly manner, a settlement in the majority of industrial disputes, without an ultimate resort to the arbitrament of force by way of strike or lockout.

This is not the precise stage at which one might enter upon a detailed examination of the Bill in its many sections. No doubt the mechanics of the Bill are very important, and much will require to be said, and will be said by the Senators who have already spoken on Committee Stage. I must confess frankly, however, that I personally am not so intrigued by the discussion on Committee Stage. The detailed discussion of the Bill would not interest me nearly so much as what I might call the general tendency of the Bill and what I believe it will endeavour to effect, not only in regard to the question of determining wages and conditions of employment, but in regard to its directives and its capability of effecting, in the minds of both employers and workers, a newer and more sane approach to the problems which confront us every day in our economic and industrial lives.

Experience gained up and down the country during the past four years, while serving on wages advisory tribunals, has convinced me that there is an ever-developing and a welcome change of attitude of mind towards each other on the part of employers and workers. Early on in the operation of these tribunals, workers and employers, many of whom were meeting across the table for the first time, looked askance at each other, and made little or no attempt to conceal their mutual distrust. However, as time went on, and as they began to know each other better and to learn to appreciate each other's point of view and difficulties, I noticed that the tendency to become friendly became more apparent at each succeeding meeting. The workers began to realise, I think, that the employer was not as black as they thought he was, and the employer began to realise that the worker was not as red as he was painted. That was a foundation for the development of a new approach along lines of mutual recognition of each other's difficulties, and of how much they had in common. They began to realise that the employer has his difficulty and that the worker has reservations in regard to his employer. I have had that experience.

I am not so much concerned about the details of this Bill as with the opportunity that will be afforded of constant negotiation between employers and employees before the court that it is proposed to set up. I base the growth and progress of justice and peace more on the atmosphere that will be created, than on anything that might be gained by way of improved conditions under the Bill. I have no doubt vested interests concerned in the promotion of industrial strife and with ulterior motives will not be enamoured, and will be an ever-present menace to the measure now before the House. In my opinion, the Bill implicitly proposes, as the Holy Father recently said, when speaking on relations between capital and labour, "to infuse the breath of spiritual and moral life into the framework of industrial relations."

It is, therefore, because I am more concerned with what I might call the particular philosophy behind this Bill that I wholeheartedly support it. If we can secure an acceptance of the Christian principle, that the interests of employers and workers are not antagonistic, but rather are complementary to each other, I think we may expect to be able to travel a long way on the road to ultimate industrial peace. There will be, at least, a friendly atmosphere and a new approach to all such problems, and the incidence of strikes and lock-outs will be considerably lessened as people come to appreciate all that this Bill means in the promotion of that object. We can by our co-operation in the working of this measure effect a repudiation of the anti-Christian doctrine, that conflict is inevitable in the field of industrial relations. If we can come to a mutual appraisal of the fact, that the aim of workers and employers is not directed solely to their own interests, but rather an arrangement providing for the common good, and the needs of the community, then we will have gone a long way on the road to industrial peace.

I extend a cordial welcome to the Bill. I congratulate the Minister on its introduction. It is not the first measure of labour and social legislation that he has been responsible for placing on the Statute Book. It will be pretty generally admitted that he has consistently striven to remedy, at least, some of the many defects so manifest in our social and economic life. I hope that the measure he has introduced this evening will, in a relatively short time, by its successful operation, come to be regarded as the Magnum Opus in the field of industrial labour legislation. There is general acceptance of it as a means for the regulation of wages and conditions between employers and workers, disproving the modern anti-Christian concept that conflict and strife are inevitable in the field of industrial relations. I have no intention of entering into a review of the Bill itself. Even if so minded I have no authority to do so. I do not represent any organisation of workers or employers here now, and I feel that I am not called upon to enter into a discussion of the measure in detail A month ago I might, but not now.

I feel that the best contribution I can make on the Committee Stage is to remain silent. Again, I congratulate the Minister on having introduced the Bill, and I hope that it will achieve all that he hopes for it. I believe with the co-operation of workers and employers the Bill will, in due course, become the only method of determining disputes. Although I might have had something to say, I do not wish to enter into details and, in view of changed circumstances, I do not intend to speak on this measure on the Committee Stage.

As we are going to meet to-morrow it might be as well to adjourn now.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Senator S. T. Ruane.

This has been a very informative discussion and certainly I can say that, during my rather short experience of this House, I have never heard such a genuine welcome extended to any measure as was extended to this one. To any law designed to secure conditions upon which the prosperity and progress of the country so much depend, such a welcome should be extended, and because that is the object of this Bill, it is not alone popular amongst members of this House, and of the other House, but is genuinely popular through the country.

To my mind it has been introduced at a very opportune time. For the past six years the discrepancy between wages and cost of living became greater almost daily. That condition of affairs caused much heart-burning on the part of wage earners and their families. I am not unmindful of the fact that the Government tried to maintain a fair balance between wages and the cost of living but, whereas their measures were very successful in pegging down wages, I regret to say they were not equally successful in controlling the cost of living. Were it not for emergency regulations, the daily increasing gap between wages and the cost of living would certainly have brought reactions all of us would have had reason to deplore.

This Bill proposes to set up machinery that will make it impossible for either the employer or the employee to impose their wills on each other. It is designed in the first instance to bring representatives of contending factions together and to afford them an opportunity of making their case and then the court is empowered to make an award which may be registered and cannot afterwards be impeached by either side without incurring penalties. Any legislation designed to prevent strikes will have the support, not only of those who might be identified with strikes, but also of those whose mode of life is greatly interfered with on the occurrence of a strike. From my experience in Dublin when strikes were the order of the day, I can say that in the vast number of cases with which I came in contact, I never yet met a striker who was striking for the pleasure of it. Every striker was sensible of the fact that no matter what the victory might be, the sacrifice involved consumed the fruits of victory and prevented full enjoyment of them for many years.

The one defect I see in the Bill, and which has been referred to by Senator Hayes and, indirectly, by Senator Foran, is the exclusion of certain classes of workers under Section 4. I am glad that it has not been suggested or insinuated that the exclusion of civil servants, teachers, employees of local authorities and agricultural employees, from the operation of this Bill is because their conditions of employment are ideal and do not require machinery such as is proposed to be set up to deal with other sections.

We all know that those sections that have been deliberately left out of this Bill have suffered the privations that every other section that has been provided for in the Bill has suffered in the past six years. I was glad to hear the Minister say that, while it was considered inappropriate, because of the circumstances of employment of the people I refer to, to apply this particular Bill to them, there is nothing in the Bill which precluded the setting up of a tribunal that would be able to make a pronouncement or an award on any questions that would be brought before it by the particular services not provided for in this Bill. During the 1914-1918 War such a State board was set up by the British Government to arbitrate as between the State and its employees. The British Government that has always been jealous of its rights, privileges and powers did not consider it infra dig. to be a party to such arbitration and to be brought face to face with its employees on matters in dispute and I do not see why our Government should object to acting in a similar manner. I am perfectly convinced that if such a tribunal existed the present strike of teachers would not have lasted five hours. I am only referring to that matter because conflicting statements——

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Seanad is not dealing with those statements.

I trust the Minister will be able to indicate machinery that will apply to the services that are precluded from consideration under this Bill by Section 4. The people affected can make a contribution towards the conditions that are necessary for progress in this country equal to that made by any of the sections that are included in this Bill. Any consideration that these services get in any legislation to do away with the possibility of trouble as between employer and employed will have its own reward.

Mr. Patrick O'Reilly

The trend of the discussion on this Bill has pleased me because when the Bill was first circulated I thought it would be the most bitterly contested measure. I thought that a number of people representing Labour would take the view that the measure was the thin end of the wedge to introduce compulsory arbitration. The trend of the discussion has been very satisfactory. Each member of this House who is qualified to speak on behalf of Labour has taken a very sympathetic view and has given the measure whole-hearted support. I feel that this Bill, which is to a great extent an experiment, is worthy of success. If we by this measure can ensure improvement in industrial relations between employers and workers and the elimination of strikes and lock-outs, which have been referred to as a necessary evil, a great work will have been achieved. The success of the Bill will depend to a great extent on the attitude of employers and workers to the labour court. The labour court is the essence of the Bill. There has been a good deal of discussion as to the chairman and his remuneration and the type of person to be appointed. Some Senators have suggested that a person with legal experience would be a proper person to assess the arguments of the various parties. No matter who is chairman, much will depend on the chairman because unless confidence is established in the minds of workers' trade unions and employers' trade unions, the measure will not be a success and there is still the risk of strike action because this Bill does not prevent strike action in the final analysis. If the court succeeds in establishing confidence, it can go a long way to eliminating labour disputes and to prevent them ending in strikes.

Having regard to the necessity for ensuring the independence of the court, a person of very sound common sense and wide experience in labour and industrial problems—it may be an employer or a person with experience of labour matters—who knows how to act with justice, is as necessary as chairman as a person with legal experience. The court will have the onus of ensuring that there is confidence in it and respect for it, so that its award will be as effective as if it were compulsory. The court can bring about the position that any employers or workers refusing to obey its award would be put out of court, as it were, in the eyes of their fellows.

It is understandable that representatives of labour would be a bit afraid to see compulsory arbitration introduced. I do not say that it should be, but it is curious that it is only the countries which have the Labour Governments that have gone so far as to introduce compulsory arbitration; so I suppose we will have to wait until we have a Labour Government here before we can hope for compulsory arbitration. We cannot go any further than we are going under this measure to resolve labour disputes.

I was a bit annoyed that Part IV does not admit the right of people employed by local authorities and vocational committees and by the State to have their position investigated by this court. In regard to local authorities' employees, since the legal position is that the county manager is responsible for the staff, that he is the boss and uses the authority and name of the county council, that he makes all the regulations and conditions of employment, there is a necessity for some means of ventilating the grievances of such employees. I suggest that they should be dealt with by this court or that some other machinery should be set up. I understand it is possible to conclude the debate to-night, so I will finish by wishing the Minister every success and hoping that it will bring more harmony in our industrial life in the future.

This Bill seems to provide machinery which, if we are intelligent enough to operate it, will enable us to obviate disputes which otherwise would be inevitable. There are aspects of the Bill which I do not like, but I do not intend to go into them this evening. I was very much impressed by the speech made by Senator Douglas at the beginning of the debate, and also by that of Senator Summerfield. Of course, Senator Douglas is not an ordinary employer to me, but Senator Summerfield, I am afraid, is.

The Senator can sort out the difference, if he likes. As has been stated by the Minister, the machinery is voluntary. If it works, we in the trade union movement will operate it; if it does not work, or if we think it will not work, we will not operate it. As the last speaker said, the labour court is the kernel of the Bill. We must feel as trade unionists that we will get fair play—that is all we are asking for. Speaking by and large, I think the attitude of the employers in this country has changed a wee bit since 1913, but some of us have long memories.

It has changed a big bit.

Well, I know of some parts of the country where the attitude has not changed a bit since 1913. I hope this machine will work. If it does, no one will be more pleased than the trade unionists. The last speaker said we will have to wait until we have a Labour Government before we agree to compulsory arbitration. I want to tell my friend opposite that, whether there is a Labour Government or not, the trade unionists will not agree to compulsory arbitration.

Mr. Patrick O'Reilly

I pointed out that it is in countries like Australia and New Zealand, where there are Labour Governments, that there is a measure of compulsory arbitration. I thought I made that clear to the House.

I am quite aware that that is so in the countries to which the Senator refers. My opinion—and what I believe to be the opinion of the labour movement in this country—is that we are not going to agree, as trade unionists, whether there is a Labour Government in power or not, to compulsory arbitration. That may be taken as quite definite, as the opinion of the trade union movement here.

One point about Section 58 is worrying me a bit, in relation to standard wages in certain areas. It seems to me that, before you can really have standard wages, you should follow the example of New Zealand. Before they had the compulsory arbitration to which Senator O'Reilly referred, they set up a commission which determined what should be a living wage or a standard wage for a man, his wife and one child. To that they added an amount for each subsequent child. That was about 1896, I think, before there was such a thing as a labour court. We have never attempted to do that in this country. Friends of mine have stated that, if such an inquiry were made here and if a commission did determine what our national income would really mean in the form of wages for a man, his wife and one child, with an allowance for each subsequent child, the result might surprise me as a socialist and the income would not be as great as I may think. Quite frankly, however, I would like to see it done; I would like to see what the national income of the Twenty-Six Counties would mean by way of a standard wage for a man and his family. That would seem to me to be a more decent way of getting a standard than the method suggested in Section 58.

There is one thing I think very acceptable about this measure and the Minister referred to it as the difference between the democratic way of life and the totalitarian—whether that totalitarian is in Russia or, as it was, in Germany and Italy and as it is, to some extent, in Spain. This lays emphasis on the necessity of training our people, both trade unionists and employers—and I think the employers need it even more than the trade unionists—in democratic methods, in the methods of running their own organisations and in that way acquiring the art of being able to govern a country. I think, as I hinted a moment ago, that the employers in this country need that even more than we do. I as a trade unionist recognise and admit that we need it, too.

As I have said, this is a most important Bill. We, in the trade union movement, will operate it, and we trust that the machinery provided will be successful. A good deal of emphasis has been put on the chairman of the court and on the members of the court. Quite frankly, I am not very much concerned about that. If the Minister appoints men who are sincere, and not only sincere but who will give the impression to trade unionists and workers that they are sincere then we, on our side, will give it a square deal, and we trust that those on the other side will also give it a square deal. It is a square deal that we, trade unionists, want.

That is what we want, too.

I am glad to hear the Senator say that. I think you get more than your share of it.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Minister to conclude.

The general approval of the principle of the Bill which was expressed by all Senators reflects, I think, the attitude of everybody to it— workers, employers, and the general public. It is true that agreement in principle does not necessarily imply agreement in detail, and it is inevitable, in a measure of this kind, that a conflict of views upon detail will persist. We must aim to get a Bill which will reflect the greatest common amount of agreement in matters of detail, and one which, in any event, will be workable in that each of its provisions will be framed in relation to realities and will be accepted as practicable by those who will have to apply it.

Senators very rightly emphasised the importance of the labour court which is the foundation of the whole structure envisaged by the Bill. In that court the chairman occupies a vital position. It is most important that the court should establish for itself a reputation for commonsense and impartiality, in the sense that the term implies an absence of undue bias, and for expeditious handling of business. These are the three considerations which, I think, will enhance the reputation of the court, and in relation to all these matters the chairman will have an important rôle to play. It has been suggested that the chairman should have the tenure of a High Court judge, or even that he should be a High Court judge. Senators have spoken very much about the importance of the independence of the chairman. I do not think that the independence of the chairman is of such vital importance as has been suggested.

Let me explain the idea which I have in that regard. This court is different from an ordinary court of law. We decided to call the tribunal to be established by this Bill a court because there are various advantages in the use of that term. We could have used another name, but the fact that we have decided to call it a court must not lead us into very obvious errors. A court of law has the power to invoke the resources of the State to enforce its judgments. If I have a dispute with my neighbour I can bring him to a court of law, I can compel him to go there, I can get a decision from that court which he must obey. There is, therefore, an obvious need for ensuring that a court of law will decide upon the issues that come before it impartially, and particularly, in so far as the Government may be involved in such issues, that it will be independent of the influence of the Government.

Now, this court is a different type of tribunal. Nobody need go before it. People will use it only if they are satisfied that its decisions are, in fact, impartial and commonsense. It does not make the slightest difference whether the court is influenced by the Minister or anybody else; if its decisions are regarded as impracticable or biased the court will not be used. If they are regarded as practicable and fair, the court will be used. The independence of the chairman, therefore, is not so vital a principle in the case of this tribunal as it is in the case of a court of law. What is important is that the chairman should be a levelheaded, commonsense, fair individual who will be prepared to work without bias and work expeditiously. I emphasise the importance of the chairman being without bias and the importance of expeditious work. If we are to appoint a chairman with the tenure of a High Court judge or take a High Court judge we are pledging the whole future of this measure and the effort towards industrial peace, which it represents, upon the soundness of the choice of one individual.

In comparing this court to a High Court or to any other court of law, I would also ask the Seanad to keep in mind that there are many judges in the High Court, in the Supreme Court and in the Circuit Court. There will be one individual upon whom the success of this measure will very largely depend— the chairman of this court—and if we are to provide in the Bill that he is to have appointment for life, that he is not capable of being removed except by a very elaborate procedure, we will be risking everything upon the soundness of the choice originally made. I would think that the lesser risk is to provide for the appointment of a chairman for a limited term and subject to removal. That may create a situation in which the chairman will feel that he has to have regard to Ministerial declarations of policy, and on that account he may not be regarded as being as independent as it would be desired he should be. The risk of that misconception of the position of the chairman arising is, however, much less serious than the risk that the chairman will prove, in the course of events, to be biased for employers or against employers, for workers or against workers or unwilling to carry through the business of the court with the expedition and care which is required.

I think there is no likelihood that the question of Ministerial policy will at any time seriously tend to influence the decisions of this court. It is not intended that the Government should be without influence in matters relating to wage rates generally, or conditions of employment generally. The Government is the custodian of the economic interests of the country and must naturally be concerned with any general movement in relation to wages which may react upon national prosperity or upon employment or upon our prospects of promoting increased productivity in the future, and as in the past its power to influence wage rates will have to be through the operation of a tariff policy, prices control or by similar indirect methods. It will have a statutory responsibility in relation to conditions of employment under the various conditions of Employment Acts and the Factory Acts. In fact, I will have available for consideration by the Oireachtas in the near future, a new prices control measure based upon the old Control of Prices Act but amended in relation to our more recent experience, as well as a new Factories Act, bringing up to date the factories and workshops code. These measures will give the Government not merely responsibility but also the power, which will be applied on the right lines, to influence the trend of wages or to supervise conditions of employment in industry.

The matters that will come to this court will be much more specific, relating to the wages to be paid to specific classes of workers or to the conditions under which they are employed. In regard to such matters, it is rare that the Government has a point of view at all. Before the war, these wage rates and conditions of employment were settled by a process of bargaining. In relation to the negotiations leading to agreements, the Government's rôle was merely that of conciliator—providing a neutral ground upon which the contending parties would meet and helping them to overcome their difficulties by making proposals and suggestions arising out of experience. Rarely, if ever, did the Government attempt to influence the course of the negotiations or attempt to apply pressure upon one party or the other to get a particular result. The cases that will come before this court—the wages that are to be paid, the hours that are to be worked, the terms under which workers will be employed or the proportion of one class of workers to another in particular occupations— all these matters will be ordinarily settled by negotiation in the future as in the past. The one thing that will follow as a result of the enactment of this Bill is that the negotiated bargains will be given a legal, enforceable status by reason of the application of the Bill to them.

Other matters which cause industrial disputes—questions of discipline, questions of demarcation, inter-union disputes—are all matters which lend themselves to a judicial process and in very few cases of disputes of that kind in the past did I not believe that the existence of some such tribunal, bringing a fair, commonsense point of view to bear on the issues involved, even if it had not power to make an award, would have resulted in the avoidance of a stoppage of work or in the termination of a stoppage had it occurred.

We can discuss the manner of appointment, the tenure and other matters relating to the chairman more closely in Committee but I would ask the Seanad to keep in mind that the various aspects of that question have been fully considered and that there are good reasons why it is thought desirable, at any rate in the initial stages of the operation of the measure, not to have the powers of the Minister too restricted, not to tie his hands too tightly, because the whole effort will fail if, through inadvertence, we appoint an unsuitable chairman or a person who will be regarded by those who have to use the court as unsuitable and if we have no power to rectify that. A man may be accused unfairly of being biased in his judgments but if he is generally believed to be biased he will be unsuitable to be chairman of the court. We shall not be concerned with his reputation but we shall be concerned with the willingness of workers and employers to submit their disputes to the tribunal. If we succeed in getting a court that will be respected, a court whose judgments will be regarded as commonsense and sound, then in the course of time we shall get behind that court a moral force greater than any legal sanction and, perhaps, a situation will be reached in which there will be a general movement of opinion in favour of giving the court more powers and in favour of constituting the court on a much more formal basis.

One further point I should like to mention because it is a relevant point as far as I am concerned. The Bill does not preclude the appointment as chairman of the court of a person with legal qualifications. I found, however, in discussions with Labour organisations that there was a general feeling in favour of having a person without legal qualifications as chairman of the court. It was believed that the introduction of a legal atmosphere to the court would militate against the pursuit of labour interests at this court. There was certainly a strong feeling against the appointment of a judge because it was assumed that the appointment of a judge as chairman would inevitably mean that issues would be argued there by counsel and the trade union movement believes— and, in my opinion, rightly believes— that workers' interests can be advocated before a tribunal of this kind far more successfully by a trade union secretary, or by some other official of a union, than by a lawyer briefed for the purpose. No doubt there are lawyers who may specialise in that type of business and, in due course, become efficient at it but, in present circumstances, these officials of unions who are dealing with employers in negotiations of various kinds every day are as competent a body of men as can be secured for the purpose of advocating workers' claims before this tribunal.

As regards the ordinary members of the court I have in mind the fixing of a substantial salary. I appreciate that there are also difficulties in that regard. Frankly, there is as yet in the trade union movement a rather false attitude towards the question of remuneration for people doing work of this kind. Many members of the unions might regard it as undesirable that their representatives on the court should be paid large salaries. On the other hand, it is necessary to provide that workers' members will be paid whatever the employers' representatives are paid. You could not possibly have a discrimination between one and the other. Clearly we shall not get persons as employers' representatives who will be really employers' representatives, unless we are prepared to remunerate them on a reasonable basis. I thought it might tend to meet that difficulty if we did not make it a statutory condition that ordinary members should give their whole time to the work, provided they did not hold office in an employers' organisation or if they were not responsible to an employers' organisation for their work and provided they were always able to give the whole of their time, as required, to the work of the court. It is difficult to say that a person is a representative employer if, in fact, he has no other source of income but as a member of the court.

If we make that a condition of membership of the court, we, in fact, provide that he ceases to be an employer or somebody who is a representative employer before he takes up membership of the court. However, that is a detail which I am prepared to discuss in Committee. The relevant section was amended in the Dáil but in introducing the amendment I indicated a certain hesitancy about its advisability. The House accepted the amendment, however, and I am prepared to let the whole matter be discussed here. There are practical difficulties which I ask the Seanad to appreciate in considering the matter.

The Bill applies to agricultural workers but Part VI is the only Part which is really applicable to them. I hope no Senator will consider that we are in some way acting to the detriment of agricultural workers in confining them to that Part of the Bill. So far as standard rate Orders are concerned, agricultural workers were not subject to Emergency Powers Orders and consequently there are no standard rate Orders for agricultural workers. They are not subject to trade boards and will not be subject to trade boards. The Agricultural Wages Act set up the Agricultural Wages Board for determining minimum rates of wages of agricultural workers. The provisions concerning industrial councils are inapplicable to agricultural workers. Similarly the provisions for the registration of agreements are not applicable. At any rate, it is difficult to contemplate a situation in which two different rates would be applicable to agricultural workers in any area. Part VI is the only Part of the Bill applicable to agricultural workers, and that Part deals with ordinary disputes.

Disputes can, of course, arise from causes other than differences of opinion concerning a suitable rate of wages, but, where they relate to the payment of wages above the minimum rates fixed by the Agricultural Wages Board or conditions of employment, they can be brought to the court, if desired, under the provisions of Part VI.

Senator Duffy was quite right in emphasising the importance of the conciliation officers who will function under this court. It must not be lost sight of that the intention is that by far the greater number of disputes that will arise and be dealt with under this machinery will be dealt with by the conciliation officers without coming before the court at all. If the existence of a dispute or the possibility of a dispute is reported, the first step will be the intervention of a conciliation officer who will try to get agreement between the parties in the same way as the conciliation officer of the Department of Industry and Commerce tries at present. The defect in the departmental machinery referred to here is that, ordinarily, it does not function until strike notice has been issued, and it is hoped that under the procedure of this Bill conciliation can be applied before that stage is reached. If conciliation results in agreement, the court does not come into the dispute at all. If conciliation does not result in agreement, the efforts of the conciliation officers will be ordinarily directed towards getting some temporary arrangement which will prevent stoppages of work until the court has got an opportunity of expressing a view on the matter.

A very large number of disputes are due to a proposal to alter conditions of employment in one way or another. The employer wants to alter them because of some change in the circumstances of his industry; the worker wants to alter them for some other reason. Ordinarily, the conciliation officer, if he could not get agreement to govern the future employment in the occupation, would propose that the status quo be maintained until the court had an opportunity of expressing its opinion. The bulk of the work will fall upon the conciliation officers and it is upon them and upon the tact, efficiency, and capacity for work which they display will very largely depend the elimination of disputes which might cause stoppages of work.

Senator Duffy also referred to the fact that there is nothing in the Bill to prevent an employer going out of business as an alternative to paying rates of wages prescribed in a registered agreement. I do not think there could be. That point was referred to in the Dáil and, frankly, I do not see what the answer to it is. We say to the employer, if the employer's workers are of the class to which an agreement relates, that he must pay the rates and give them the conditions prescribed. If he fails to do so, the trade union concerned can report his failure to the court and the court can order him to do so, subject to penalties to be imposed by a court of law, and can, in addition, order him to make whatever back payments are necessary. But the employer can always in the last resort say: "I will not continue in the business."

You can always subsidise him for his loss.

There is no alternative.

I had something different in my mind. I had in mind the case of a dispute between a trade union and an employer and a group of employers deciding to lock-out in sympathy with the employer.

I did not appreciate that that was the Senator's point. I thought it was the possibility of an employer retaliating by not employing workers of the particular class at all.

I had in mind a case, let us say, of a multiple shop having employees, say, in Tipperary. There is a dispute in Tipperary, but they can shut down their other shops in Limerick, Waterford, Dublin and Cork.

If the Senator introduced an amendment to deal with that point I would be very interested. Senator Hayes rightly remarked that the exclusion of State employees and local authority employees from the Bill raises the question whether the State can expect private employers to do what the State is not prepared to do itself. Of course, when the Senator talks of the State in this matter, he is, I think, begging the question. The employer of a civil servant is, I suppose, ultimately the taxpayer, and, as between the taxpayer and the civil servant, the Legislature itself comes in. In so far as the teachers' dispute or any other dispute is concerned, the Government and, behind the Government, the Legislature is really a mediator in my view between the claims of the section of workers concerned and the people who will have to pay whatever amount of money is involved.

It is not quite so simple as that.

In any event, I will put against the contention that they might be brought into this Bill the one argument that the tribunal proposed to be established here would not, in my view, be a suitable tribunal for adjudicating upon claims of that character. I think if the principle is to be applied to the public service there will have to be a tribunal established upon somewhat different lines.

I agree, but I am making the point that, in the absence of any provision in this Bill, they must come into some scheme other than the present one.

I am glad that Senator Campbell made the reference he did to the wages tribunals which functioned under the Emergency Powers Order. The members of these tribunals had a great deal of work to do. The ordinary members of them were unremunerated, apart from having their immediate expenses met. They gave a considerable part of their time to the work and they succeeded in doing much more than it was ever intended they should do. Originally, the tribunals were established as an instrument to carry into effect the policy of the Order. In practice, these tribunals by their method of operation have created confidence in the idea of wage disputes being adjusted by a new method. I think it was the atmosphere created by the working of these tribunals which made possible the agreement for the introduction of this measure. While there were many objections to the procedure adopted in the standstill Order, in the course of time there grew up a picture of a new method which would replace the strike and lock-out and, at the same time, secure justice and security for the workers who availed of it. That is what we are attempting here: to substitute a new method which we hope will work. We are applying it on a voluntary basis, and that is the only basis on which it can be applied. We leave to everybody the alternative of resorting to the older methods of settling industrial differences. If they feel the newer method is practicable and fair, they will use it. In the course of time I feel that opinion, both amongst workers and employers, will in fact make the use of this machinery inevitable by their organisations. The experience which we gained in the operation of the wages tribunals under the standstill Order was in fact very useful in framing this measure and was, I think, particularly useful in bringing home in a practical way to those who will have to use this measure what precisely is involved in it.

A number of other points were raised, but I will not deal with them now; they are more suitable for the Committee Stage. Indeed, most of the matters raised were in a sense Committee points. I would like that they should be dealt with fully, because it is important that any remaining doubts as to the efficacy of particular provisions of the Bill should be removed while the Bill is passing through the Seanad.

Question—"That the Bill be now read a Second Time"—put and agreed to.
Committee Stage fixed for Tuesday, 13th August.

Will the House sit to-morrow?

That has to be arranged.

I urge very strongly that the House should sit to-morrow. There is a motion on the Order Paper in my name. It has been there for quite a long time and I have agreed on two or three occasions to its being postponed in order to allow other business to be taken. I submit that if it is not taken to-morrow it cannot be taken until next October or November. In these circumstances, I suggest that the House should meet to-morrow in order to deal with that motion.

I think we all appreciate Senator Duffy's attitude in connection with this motion and we would like to accommodate him in every way possible.


The Seanad adjourned at 10.3 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Thursday, 1st August.