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Singapore (Shipping Dispute)

Volume 527: debated on Wednesday 5 May 1954

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asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies if he is aware of the strike of Malay deck hands now in progress in Singapore and that inexperienced seamen are being signed on the ships in dispute and are given seamen's registration cards; what steps are being taken to bring this dispute to an end; and if he will take steps, through the Labour Department, to have this dispute submitted to an arbitrator.

I understand that this dispute has arisen from rivalry between two unions. A local shipping company declined to negotiate with the Indo-Malay-Pakistani Seamen's Union on matters already covered by its recent agreement with the Malay Seamen's Union, and the former union in consequence called a strike. It is estimated that of the new deck-hands recruited to replace those on strike 70 per cent, have had previous sea-faring experience. The Seamen's Registration Bureau has continued to carry out its legal obligation to register all persons seeking employment as seamen. The good offices of the Labour Department are always available to help in settling such disputes, and an adviser on seamen's unions has just been selected for appointment to the Department. The dispute cannot be referred to arbitration without the agreement of both parties.