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Worker's Appeal, Stoke (Reinstatement)

Volume 387: debated on Thursday 18 March 1943

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asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware that W. Berks, 11, Parkhead Drive, Weston Coyney, Stoke-on-Trent, in May, 1942, won an appeal, and the firm was ordered to reinstate the man and pay his wages and expenses; why that has not been carried out; and what action is it intended to take to carry out the Appeal Court's decision and pay the £25 owing to Mr. Berks?

I am aware that Mr. Berks was not reinstated by his employers, but I was advised that any proceedings which I might institute for contravention of the Essential Work Order would be unlikely to succeed. I have no authority to institute such civil proceedings for recovery of any wages that may be due. It is open to Mr. Berks to institute such proceedings himself in the civil courts.

Can my right hon. Friend say what action is taken against employers who refuse to carry out a decision? Are they prosecuted like other people?

They are prosecuted and fined. In some cases I have de-scheduled their works, and other cases I have dealt with through my right hon. Friends who are responsible for production.

In a case where a workman has to take his employer before a court how can he afford to do that? This is something new from the Minister of Labour.

That is the law at present, and I cannot alter it, but most workmen have a union which would help them if they had to go to court.

Will my right hon. Friend look into this matter again, because several cases have been reported already, and it does appear unfair to a workman that when a decision has been given in his favour he has to go to court to have it implemented?

The case of the recovery of wages has always been a civil matter, and unions have always maintained that. The question of fining an employer is a matter for the court. This is a case of the recovery of wages.