Agricultural Workers (Wages).

Oral Answers to Questions — Scotland. – in the House of Commons at on 30 July 1935.

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Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is in a position to inform the House of the results of recent negotiations in regard to farm servants' wages; and what steps have been taken to safeguard the interests of farm servants where branches of the Farm Servants' Union are weak or non-existent?

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

A scheme for promoting collective agreements with regard to wages and working conditions of agricultural workers in Scotland prepared as the result of meetings between representatives of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland and the Scottish Farm Servants' Section of the Transport and General Workers' Union was circulated in May by the National Farmers' Union to its branches with a recommendation that it should be adopted, but I am informed that replies have been received so far from only 48 out of 138 branches. The Union recently issued a further letter with a view to expediting the replies. As regards the second part of the question, no steps have yet been taken in the direction indicated but the scheme, of which I am sending the right hon. Baronet a copy, provides a means whereby local organisations may be recognised as bodies competent to act for the purpose of the scheme provided they are deemed to be sufficiently representative of the interests concerned.

Photo of Sir Archibald Sinclair Sir Archibald Sinclair , Caithness and Sutherland

As there has been so little response in this matter, can the right hon. Gentleman say what further steps he proposes to take to stop the decline in the wages of farm servants in Scotland at a time when the wages of agricultural workers in England are improving?

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

This effort has not yet come to an end. So far 48 answers have been received and the union has recently written to the bodies which have not yet replied asking them to do so. When all the answers have been received, a new situation will have arisen which will have to be considered.

Photo of Mr Frederick Macquisten Mr Frederick Macquisten , Argyll

Is the right hon. Gentleman not satisfied that if proper protective duties were put on agricultural produce farmers would be able to pay better wages?

Photo of Sir James Henderson-Stewart Sir James Henderson-Stewart , Fife Eastern

In view of the public interest in this scheme, will not the right hon. Gentleman publish in the OFFICIAL REPORT the details which he is sending to the right hon. Baronet, so that we may all know?

Photo of Mr Godfrey Collins Mr Godfrey Collins , Greenock

I will consider that suggestion.

Following are the terms of the scheme:

Collective Bargaining in the Agricultural Industry in Scotland.

The National Farmers' Union of Scotland and the Scottish Farm Servants' Section of the Transport and General Workers' Union agree to recommend to their respective branches that it is desirable to institute a scheme for the promotion of collective agreements regarding the wages and working conditions of agricultural workers throughout Scotland. Such agreements will have no legal force, but will be issued as recommendations to the parties concerned.

The following is the scheme proposed.

"1. Where in any area* the employers or the employés desire that a collective agreement

* In the normal case it is suggested that the area should be a county; but in certain cases it may be found more convenient to fix as an area part of a county, or part of one county and part of another.

ment regarding the wages and working conditions of any class of worker engaged in that area shall be promoted, a request may be made for the constitution of a Joint Area Committee, consisting of representatives of the employers and the employés. Such a request, if emanating from employers, shall be addressed to the secretary of the local county or area executive of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland (hereinatfer referred to as the Farmers' Executive), by whom it shall be communicated to the general secretary of the Farm Servants' Section of the Transport and General Workers' Union (hereinafter referred to as the Farm Servants' Executive). If emanating from employés, the request shall be addressed to the general secretary, by whom it shall be communicated to the Farmers' Executive.

If, in any area, an organisation of employers or employés other than those directly associated with this scheme be established, it shall be understood that this organisation, provided it is deemed to be representative by the Department of Agriculture for Scotland, shall have the right of making representations in the manner set out above to the Farmers' Executive or to the Farm Servants' Executive according as it is representative of the workers or the employers, and the Farmers' Executive or the Farm Servants' Executive shall be free in these circumstances to follow the procedure subsequently delineated in this scheme, the 'recognised organisation' taking the place, according to the character of its members, otherwise occupied by the branch of the National Farmers' Union of Scotland or of the Scottish Farm Servants' Union.

2. On the receipt of a request under Section 1 for the constitution of a Joint Area Committee the Farmers' Executive or the Farm Servants' Executive shall consider the matter and intimate the decision upon it to the secretary of the other side, as designated by the preceding paragraph. If the proposal shall have proved acceptable, each side shall appoint representatives to the Joint Area Committee in such number as may be deemed by them to be best suited to the particular circumstances existing in the area.

3. The Joint Area Committee shall hold office for a period of one year, any casual vacancies during that period being filled by nomination of the Farmers' Executive or of the Farm Servants' Executive, as the case may be.

4. The Joint Area Committee shall elect one of their number as Chairman.

5. The function of a Joint Area Committee shall be to consider any questions as to wages and working conditions in the area and any agreement reached on any matter shall be communicated to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland. Agreement shall not be deemed to be reached unless by a majority of each side of the Committee, the vote to be taken separately by each side and the result to be intimated to a reassembled joint meeting.

6. In the event of

  1. (a) failure to appoint a Joint Area Committee in terms of Clause 2 or,
  2. (b) A joint Area Committee failing to agree upon any matter, application may be made by either the Farmers' Executive or the Farm Servants' Executive to the Department of Agriculture for Scotland for the appointment of a person to act as conciliator.

7. The duties of a conciliator shall be

  1. (a) where no Joint Area Committee has been constituted to acquaint himself with the conditions in the area and with the views of farmers and farm servants and to report to the Department his views on any matters affecting the wages and working conditions in the area;
  2. (b) where a Joint Area Committee fails to agree upon any matter, to preside over further meetings of the Committee and endeavour to lead them to agreement. Should he fail to secure agreement, he shall report to the Department as in paragraph (a).

8. Any report of a conciliator under this scheme shall be communicated forthwith by the Department to the Farmers' Executive and to the Farm Servants' Executive."