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Twenty-nine employees at this firm, members of the Transport and General Workers' Union, ceased work on 27th May in protest against their wages and conditions of employment. Neither the employer nor the union sought the assistance of my Department. Work was resumed on 24th June and negotiations are taking place in which, I understand, representatives of the Engineering Employers' Association are assisting.
Does the Minister's reply mean that his Department does not now propose to interfere (a), to prevent disputes arising, or (b), to settle them, unless they are disputes in an industry which is vital to the economy of the country? Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that this German firm has been carrying on industrial practices which are entirely contrary to British standards, including working norm?
As regards the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary, of course my Department is always available, although it usually waits until a dispute is brought to its notice, but not, of course, in every case. As regards the second part, I think that the trouble arose because this firm was not a member of the Employers' Association. It has now applied for membership, and I understand that there is a likelihood that a settlement will be achieved.