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Trade Unions (Recognition)

Volume 244: debated on Tuesday 4 November 1930

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asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has received a copy of a resolution passed at a joint meeting of representatives of the National Union of Ship Joiners, Furnishers, and Allied Trades and the Government Workers Industrial Union, urging that a joint committee be formed to press for immediate recognition of these two trade unions for representation on any existing bodies recognised for negotiating purposes by the Admiralty, War Office, or other Government Departments; and if he intends to take any action to facilitate their aspirations?

Yes, Sir. The Joint Committee in question has been informed that the composition of the employés sides of the bodies referred to is primarily the concern of the employés sides themselves.

Can the hon. Gentleman say for what reason these unions are denied the usual and proper discussion of their grievances?

Is it not a fact that this organisation is not a trade union, but a goose club?

The representation of unions in connection with negotiating bodies is a matter of national agreement and to include bodies other than those on national lines would be a breach of the agreement.

Would my hon. Friend say what he means by national agreement? Is he aware that the first of these unions concerned represents over 90 per cent. of the people engaged in the trade?

A national agreement means an agreement between the Government and the national body that represents the trade union movement of the country, and I cannot go beyond that.

As regards the Government Workers' Industrial Union, is it not a fact that that is the chief union in Woolwich Arsenal; and did not the right hon. Gentleman undertake to have an investigation as to the rival claims of the two unions there, and what is the result?

I have had an investigation into the question raised by the right hon. Member for West Woolwich (Sir K. Wood). I have personally investigated the matter, and so has my right bon. Friend the Secretary of State for War, and we have come to the conclusion that a local unit is not a national body, and, although it is a discussable matter as to whether the particular union referred to has the majority of unskilled men in the Arsenal in its membership, nevertheless the men who are in the national union are properly represented, and, if the men in the local union desire to have representation, their right course is to negotiate with the national union.

Is the Financial Secretary aware that the supplementary question just addressed to him is based on what is known as a terminological inexactitude?

May we know if it is now the principle that the workers of this country are not to be permitted to be represented by the unions which they themselves desire?