asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will now make a statement about the strike at Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
The strike has its origin in a decision to close a small bindery located in the same building as the main publications warehouse. This bindery had been operating at a loss for some time; prolonged management effort including full consultation with the union—the Society of Graphical and Allied Trades—failed to identify any means of making the bindery economic. All the union's counter-proposals and objections have been fully considered at the most senior official levels and I have met and corresponded with the union's national officials on the subject. It had been made clear throughout that suitable jobs with no loss of pay would be available for all the staff at nearby HMSO units, and that the most sympathetic consideration would be given to any employees for whom transfer presented particular difficulty. Despite this, SOGAT took industrial action in protest at the closure and involved the publications warehouse. The union has recently withdrawn its opposition to the closure but is claiming very substantial compensation payments for the transfer of staff. HMSO management is continuing negotiations to secure a return to normal working and meanwhile expects to be able, in present circumstances, to maintain the supply of material essential to hon. Members for the functioning of Parliament.