National Guild of Motor Engineers

Oral Answers to Questions — Post Office – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 24th January 1951.

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Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone 12:00 am, 24th January 1951

asked the Postmaster-General what proportion of Post Office workers employed on his motor transport staffs now belong to the registered but unrecognised trade union known as the National Guild of Motor Engineers.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

The latest figures submitted to me by the National Guild of Motor Engineers were equivalent to about 49.5 per cent. of the staff they seek to represent.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

In view of this figure, will the Postmaster-General now recognise this union, having read the Treasury document produced in 1949 about staff relations in the Civil Service?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

This is a matter of major policy. One has to make up one's mind whether to encourage a multiplicity of unions and destroy trade unionism or whether to adopt a policy of conciliation and try to get the maximum co-operation and team-work inside this important service.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

Is it not known by the right hon. Gentleman that this union of motor transport staff in the Post Office, of which there are about 3,000 members, is completely absorbed at the moment in the larger union to which they are supposed to belong? The representations of these 3,000 men go almost unheard and are not put forward by the other 45,000 people in the P.O.U., who are concerned largely with telecommunications.

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

I invited this union to meet me. We had a discussion about the matter and I got for them all the means of representation they requested. Then, unfortunately, they would not agree to the final agreement, although they had given me authority to obtain a joint meeting of all parties concerned on the basis that there would be an agreement.

Photo of Mr Stanley Awbery Mr Stanley Awbery , Bristol Central

Will my right hon. Friend take particular notice of the fact that the Opposition are continually pressing for the recognition of unions which have broken away from other organisations?

Photo of Mr Henry Strauss Mr Henry Strauss , Norwich South

Is not the real question that arises in this case, whether a man shall have the right to choose to which union he shall belong or whether that right shall be given to the employer?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

That has nothing to do with this matter. What has to be considered is whether there shall be effective trade union representation for the people engaged in the Post Office or whether we shall have a multiplicity of ineffective little groups.

Photo of Mr Robert Grimston Mr Robert Grimston , Westbury

Are we to take it from the right hon. Gentleman's reply that he has decided to depart from the previous practice, and the practice which is observed in other Government Departments, that when a grade or a union can claim to represent a certain percentage of the grade they shall be recognised?

Photo of Mr Ness Edwards Mr Ness Edwards , Caerphilly

The hon. Gentleman knows that that is a complete misrepresentation.

Photo of Mr Hugh Fraser Mr Hugh Fraser , Stafford and Stone

In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.