asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Food whether he is aware that workers employed by the Ministry in the warehousing of food supplies after they have left the docks, in the Clyde area, are engaged from day to day on a casual basis, have no guarantee of employment for more than a day, and that many of them do not earn a living wage; and whether he will take steps to secure a living wage for these men?
I am informed that on the Clyde some warehouse workers are employed by firms acting as agents for my Department and that in accordance with local practice on the Clyde some are employed on daily contract. I am further informed that, in view of reports that a surplus of labour was causing intermittent employment, meetings to consider the position were held in March and April. At these meetings my Department, the Ministry of Labour and the Dockers Union were represented. It did not then appear that any surplus existed but rather that there was a shortage of labour. It was however decided to make a survey of the position over a period of four weeks. My Noble Friend will keep in close contact with the situation, and I shall be glad to inform the hon. Member of any developments.
Will the Food Ministry not consider giving these workers a guarantee of regular employment such as the dockers have?
The matter was considered at a meeting at which the Ministry of Labour and the Dockers' Union were represented, and it was decided that it was better to let the survey be completed and consider what action should be recommended.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the matter has only come to me because conversations have proved fruitless in producing results?
I was not aware of that. I hope they will produce results.