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Strike, London Docks

Volume 467: debated on Tuesday 12 July 1949

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I feel that I should inform the House that the position at the London Docks has not improved. The latest reports show that the number of men on strike totals 12,710. Some of these men, undoubtedly, failed to attend because of a misunderstanding of the position following the introduction of emergency powers, but the National Dock Labour Board has issued a notice in the following terms, which, I hope, will put the matter right. The notice is as follows:

"The National Dock Labour Board notes that in some parts of the Port some dock workers have not returned to work in the mistaken belief that since the introduction of emergency powers the dock labour scheme no longer applies. The Board announces that the scheme is still in operation, and dock workers should continue, therefore, to make themselves available for work at the normal times and places in accordance with the scheme."

I did not ask a question today because we are to have a Debate on this matter tomorrow, but since the right hon. Gentleman has made that statement, may I ask whether he has given any further consideration to the suggestion that I and other hon. Members made, yesterday, for making the information available to these men more satisfactorily than seems to be the case at the present time? It seems that this is just one more example of a misunderstanding, apparently. I should have thought that it might have been avoided. Have the Government given further consideration to my suggestion, that by means of the wireless or otherwise all the information is made available to these men?

Yes, Sir, the right hon. Gentleman's suggestions have been considered, and steps will be taken, but for the moment I could not say exactly when.

Is it still not a fact that all the men are still anxious and willing to work every ship in the docks except the two in dispute?

Would my right hon. Friend consider, since he concedes that there is some force in the suggestion that further explanations should be given, that the sooner they are given, if they are to be given at all, the better?