Bank Employees (Union Representation)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 23rd May 1960.

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Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire 12:00 am, 23rd May 1960

asked the Minister of Labour whether he is aware of an impending dispute resulting from the dissolution by the Scottish banks of the negotiating machinery of the bank employees; and if he will use his good offices to avert the dispute.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

I presume the hon. Member is referring to the recent dissolution of the Scottish Bank Employers' Federation, which constituted the employers' side of the Joint Conciliation Council of the Scottish banking industry. This has affected negotiating arrangements, but I am not aware of any specific dispute.

Photo of Mr Archibald Manuel Mr Archibald Manuel , Central Ayrshire

As the negotiating machinery has been virtually swept away, will the right hon. Gentleman consider meeting representatives of the Scottish banks in order to try to restore their machinery and so avoid a possible disruption of trade and commerce? Feelings are beginning to run very high, as some of us are aware, which is my reason for putting down this Question, because I think the right hon. Gentleman should help.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

My officials have been in contact with the parties in this machinery for some time, but at the moment I cannot see any way in which I can be of help in general. If a particular dispute were to arise, then that would be a different situation.

Photo of Mr Jon Rankin Mr Jon Rankin , Glasgow Govan

Does not the right hon. Gentleman recollect that this matter was raised on two different occasions in the last Parliament, and that a great deal of trouble has been caused by the bankers in Scotland because of the fact that they claim to have negotiating machinery, which has been used as an excuse for not recognising the National Union of Bank Employees? Now that they have swept away the negotiating machinery, are they going to recognise the union?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

That is a matter for individual banks, and I cannot answer for them.

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Blyth

I have many times asked the Minister whether he will take the initiative in talking to the chairmen of the banks about recognition of the union. This is an impossible situation, for the banks remain as the only employers of labour who refuse to recognise properly constituted trade unions.

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As the right hon. Gentleman knows, it does not lie in my hands to compel employers to recognise particular forces with which they should negotiate. In this case the union was a party to the employees' side of the machinery, [Interruption.]—for almost a year, at any rate—and it is up to the bank employers to decide what machinery they have on their side.

Photo of Mr Alfred Robens Mr Alfred Robens , Blyth

I do not say that the right hon. Gentleman is able to compel the bank chairmen to deal with the matter, but is he not in a position to make some very helpful suggestions which would influence them considerably?

Photo of Mr Edward Heath Mr Edward Heath , Bexley

As I said in reply to the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Manuel), my officials have been following this matter closely for the last few months. I am fully acquainted with the case, but I do not see any way in which I can usefully intervene at the moment.