Mr. W. T. Williams:
asked the Minister of Labour what action he proposes to take in respect of 30 employees of the Orford Tanning Company, Warrington, who have been declared redundant and whose dismissal takes effect on 3rd December next, thus evading the provisions of the Redundancy Payments Act.
I understand that the majority of the employees would not pave been entitled to compensation under the Act. Most of these received payments in lieu of notice greater than those required under the Contracts of Employment Act. I am inviting the controlling company to consider paying compensation to the employees with long service and I shall be in touch with the hon. Member about the outcome.
Does the Parliamentary Secretary know that certainly a number of these people have many years' service, that two of them are foremen who have served as long as 23 years and that two of them, in particular, are 59 years old and are unlikely to get other employment in this area? Will he not at least accept my invitation to express his view of what I regard as a very shabby affair.
The firm has not been ungenerous in its treatment of 14 short-service people, but I agree that it has been less than generous with the 10 who have five years' service or more. I think that my hon. and learned Friend would do well to leave it with me to take the matter up with the controlling body.
Would my hon. Friend recognise that what is even more serious than these redundancy notices going out to groups of employees who can be identified and the firm exposed, is the case of the individual employee who is getting notice of this sort, expiring on 3rd December, and who can do nothing about it because he is simply the one sorted out by the firm to receive this treatment? As he knows, I have sent him a letter concerning a case of this kind.
We have had reports of a number of alleged cases of avoidance of payments under the Redundancy Payments Act, but I must say that, in the many cases which the officers of our Department have investigated, it has been found that causes which are wholly apart from redundancy occurring near the appointed day have been the primary consideration. But I have no doubt that there are numbers of individual cases like those to which my hon. Friend has referred. However, I would point out to him and the House that my right hon. Friend has no powers of compulsion until the appointed day, which is 6th December.