London Transport (Inter-union Dispute)

Oral Answers to Questions — Employment and Productivity – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans 12:00, 4 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity what progress she has made in achieving a settlement in the inter-union dispute concerning the appointment of mechanical craftsmen at London Transport's railway overhaul works at Acton, which was referred to her in mid-August.

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I very much regret the public inconvenience caused by this dispute. My officers and the T.U.C. have both held a number of discussions with the parties in an effort to find a solution. Further proposals put forward by London Transport earlier this week were rejected by the A.E.F. last night.

A meeting is at this moment taking place in my Department between my officials, London Transport and the T.U.C. and in the light of this I shall be urgently considering what further steps should be taken.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

Is the right hon. Lady aware that this has been going on nearly four months, and on the Northern Line, as each week goes by, more and more carriages and rolling stock go out of repair, more and more escalators go out of use and passengers are now expected to travel in a manner which would not be considered acceptable for cattle, let alone human beings? If the T.U.C. is really unable to redeem its solemn pledge to the Government, why does she not do something about it now?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

Of course, I am aware that the dispute has been going on since 26th September. This is why there have been these efforts by my Department and the T.U.C. to find a solution. I assure the hon. Gentleman that the T.U.C. has put in very hard efforts to find a solution and is doing so at the present moment.

Photo of Mr Stan Orme Mr Stan Orme , Salford West

Does not my right hon. Friend agree that this official dispute in which the A.E.F. is involved is not basically an inter-union dispute between it and the N.U.R. but arises from the fact that London Transport has violated an agreement it has made with the A.E.F.?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

I am aware that this is the argument put forward by the A.E.F. Whether the N.U.R. would agree is a different matter. There are inter-union difficulties here which it is important the T.U.C. should take action about, and this is it so doing.

Photo of Mr Robert Carr Mr Robert Carr , Mitcham

Is not the right hon. Lady aware that, when the Prime Minister commended the binding undertaking of the trade unions to this House, he laid great emphasis on the powers which the T.U.C. had taken to deal with this sort of dispute? After four months, should not these powers be used if the agreement is to be kept?

Photo of Mrs Barbara Castle Mrs Barbara Castle , Blackburn

As I have said—and I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman will appreciate its importance—a meeting is going on at present between London Transport, the T.U.C. and my Department to consider what the next step should be, and I would not wish to add anything until we see what comes out of this talk.

Photo of Mr Victor Goodhew Mr Victor Goodhew , St Albans

On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. In view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest possible moment.