Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Dublin Port.

asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he will state whether there are any remaining outstanding matters of disagreement likely to affect the satisfactory working of the port of Dublin; and, if so, if he will state what these matters are, and what steps, if any, are being taken to secure such agreement thereon as will prevent any further stoppage of the port arising therefrom.

In the recent dispute at the port of Dublin there were two questions of principle involved: (a) an increase in the rates of wages; and (b) adjustments in the working conditions.

The Unions concerned had applied for an increase in the rates of wages of 3/- per day. Direct negotiations between the parties led to a provisional agreement on the basis of an increase of 1/- per day but this was made subject to a certain uniformity being brought about in working conditions in the cross-Channel trade. It was on this latter issue that the negotiations broke down and a complete stoppage in the cross-Channel trade at the port was threatened. The conference over which I presided dealt, therefore, not with the rates of wages which had been provisionally agreed but with the adjustment of working conditions.

The agreement finally reached was that the parties should resume negotiations under the chairmanship of an officer of the Department and both sides undertook to continue these negotiations until arrangements satisfactory to both sides were made. Owing to the complicated nature of working conditions in the cross-Channel trade, considerable time will necessarily have to be spent in working out a scheme which will bring about more uniformity. The parties have undertaken to have these negotiations completed before the 1st May.

I am satisfied, after my personal contact with both sides, that there is a sincere desire to settle the issues relating to working conditions which have, in various forms, been under discussion for several years and have from time to time led to partial and temporary stoppages of work. Both parties realise the disastrous effects of a stoppage of work at the port and I think we may rely on their good sense to reach an agreement which should bring more settled conditions at the port and prove satisfactory to both sides.