My Department, in common with employers in outside industries, discussed with the trade unions concerned, the terms, conditions and safeguards under which foreign workers should be employed and an agreement was reached. One of the conditions agreed was that the foreign workers should be selected for employment by my Department only if they were prepared to join the appropriate British trade union. This condition was included in the instruction which was issued by my Department dealing with the employment of foreign workers.
Does that condition obtain in the other Service Departments, and if people are doing their work satisfactorily is it right to issue to them a letter to say that they will be discharged unless they join a union by Friday next? Is that in accordance with the ordinary practice of the Ministry of Labour?
I cannot speak for other Service Departments but no doubt the hon. Member can put down a Question to them. The National Joint Advisory Council, a body comprising employers' and workers' representatives, approved the principle of the employment of foreign workers in this country, and advised that consultations should take place with a view to their membership of the appropriate trade union. The arrangement has worked very well, and so far as I know the European voluntary workers are giving satisfaction.
Is it not just as intolerable that an employer should compel a man to join a union as that he should, as he did in earlier days, forbid him to join one? Is the Minister aware that we do not want this sort of thing in the public service? We have never had it. We can do all our own organising without any help from Ministers. This is intolerable.
Is it not a fact that if we are to get the maximum production and the greatest harmony in industry these men should be members of the organisation responsible for making agreements between the employers and the trade unions?
So far as I know, these workers have not protested against this arrangement, and if they are quite satisfied and everything is working well, why should not we leave it alone?
May I say that the only knowledge I have of this matter was a protest signed by five of these men and their friends about being forced to join this union? The local union officials do not want it.