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Unemployed Seamen

Volume 415: debated on Wednesday 31 October 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what action is to be taken to meet the grievances of unemployed seamen of Trinidad; if he has considered the allegations of discrimination by Royal Mail steamships against coloured seamen; and whether these men have received any gratuity for their wartime services.

I am aware of the unemployment among seamen in Trinidad and have been in correspondence with the Governor in the matter. Efforts have been made here to obtain employment for these and other West Indian seamen on British, Canadian or United States ships but have unfortunately been unsuccessful, and the question of providing them with employment is being dealt with by the local Government, which is doing all in its power to provide employment as and when opportunities occur. I am awaiting a report from the Governor on the allegation of discrimination and will communicate further with my hon. Friend when it is received. As regards the last part of the Question, seamen are not eligible for war gratuities since, throughout the war, they have been engaged on industrial rates of pay as distinct from Service rates.