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Insurance Employés (Trade Union Membership)

Volume 345: debated on Thursday 30 March 1939

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that the Guild of Insurance Officials have been trying for some time to get a meeting with the representatives of their employers to bring to their notice several matters which require attention; and whether he will consider trying to get them together to see whether agreement can be reached?

I am aware that the Guild of Insurance Officials has made applications for meetings with many insurance companies, but I am afraid that I cannot make any useful statement without an indication of the particular cases which the hon. Member has in mind.

If I let the right hon. Gentleman have information which is in my possession, would he be able to get them together?

I would not like to go as far as that. The hon. Member knows that the Ministry of Labour has to judge whether there is a favourable opportunity for the use of their conciliation machinery.

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that employers have, in particular cases, special powers which have been given to them by this House?

Is the Minister aware that the attitude in the case of one large employer, an insurance company, is more like what one would expect in Germany than in England?

It is not so much a question of the machinery for conciliation but whether the conciliation shall be internal to the organisation.


asked the Minister of Labour whether, in connection with the difficulties which have arisen between the London and Manchester Insurance Company and its employés, he is aware that membership of the staff association is automatically imposed upon members of the staff and membership of an appropriate trade union is prohibited; and whether, having regard to the recognition by this House of the advantages of trade union organisation, he will take action calculated to terminate this encroachment upon the civil rights of the employés concerned?

I am not aware of the position stated in the first part of the question. As regards the second part, I understand that the question is not one of refusal to recognise trade union organisation, but of a difference between the company and the Guild of Insurance Officials as to the particular organisation which should be recognised as representative of the staff.

If I send the Minister evidence showing, first, that members of the staff are literally compelled to join the so-called staff association; and, secondly, that they are prohibited from joining a bona fide protective organisation, will the right hon. Gentleman intimate to the company that that is out of line with public policy in this country?

Would the right hon. Gentleman be willing to receive a deputation of Members of the House who would put before him certain facts with regard to the unreasonable attitude of this company in prohibiting its employés from belonging to their own organisation?