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THE BRITISH NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL
REPORT OF THE PROVISIONAL JOINT COMMITTEE
At the Industrial Conference called by the Government and held at the Central Hall, Westminister, on February 27 last, it was resolved:
That this Conference, being of the opinion that any preventible dislocation of industry is always to be deplored, and, in the present critical period of reconstruction, might be disastrous to the interests of the nation, and thinking every effort should be made to remove legitimate grievances and promote harmony and good will, resolves to appoint a Joint Committee, consisting of equal numbers of employers and workers, men and women, together with a chairman appointed by the Government, to consider and report to a further meeting of this Conference on the causes of the present unrest and the steps necessary to safeguard and promote the best interests of employers, workpeople, and the State, and especially to consider:
1. Questions relating to Hours, Wages, and General Conditions
2. Unemployment and its prevention;
3. The best methods of promoting cooperation between Capital
The Joint Committee is empowered to appoint such SubCommittees as may be considered necessary consisting of equal numbers of employers and workers, the Government to be invited to nominate a representative for each.
"In view of the urgency of the question the Joint Committee is empowered to arrange with the Government for the reassembling of the National Conference not later than April the 5th for the purpose of considering the Report of the Joint Committee."
A Committee was elected accordingly, and the Government nominated Sir Thomas Munro to be Chairman. Certain elected members, for reasons of health or other engagements, were unable to accept membership, and the Committee was finally constituted as follows:
Chairman, Sir Thomas Munro, K.B.E.
Sir Allan M. Smith (Engineering), Mr. E. J. Brown (Building), Mr. E. J. Burt (Quarrying), Sir George Carter (Shipbuilding), Mr. Benjamin Talbot (Iron and Steel), Mr. J. W. Madeley (Other Metal Trades), Mr. J. A. Crerar (Clothing), Mr. W. Hamlin-Hamshaw (Vehicle Building), Mr. A. F. Blades (Printing), Mr. J. J. Stark (Laundries), Mr. Sydney W. Pascall (Food Manufacture), Sir W. Raeburn, M.P. (Shipping), Sir A. K. Butterworth (Railways). Mr. A. E. Tanner (Cable Manufacture), Mr. H. Padwick (Agriculture), Mr. J. T. Goudie or Mr. P. H. Lockhart (Rubber Manufacture), Mr. Roscoe Brunner (Chemicals), Mr. Walter Birch (Furniture), Mr. David Milne Watson (Gas), Mr. F. J. Farrell (Silk). Mr. Owen Parker (Boots and Shoes), Mr. Thomas Robinson, M.P. (Bleaching, Dyeing, and Textiles), Mr. C. R. Seddon (Paper), Mr. T. B. Johnston (Pottery). Mr. Randle L. Mathews (Leather), Mr. G. A. Dutfield (Transport). Mr. Fred Holroyd (Cotton), Mr. Henry S. Clough (Wool), Sir Alfred Booth, Bt., or Colonel H. Concanon (Dock and Riverside), Reserved for Mining, Mr. J. McKie Bryce, Secretary.
Rt. Hon. Arthur Henderson (Friendly Society of Ironfounders), Mr. W. Bradshaw (National Federation of Building Trades Operatives), Mr. H. Parker (National Council of Mine Workers other than Miners), Mr. John Hill (United Society of Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders), Mr. C. Duncan (the Workers' Union), Mr. W. J. Davis (National Brassworkers and Metal Mechanics), Mr. A. Conley (United Garment Workers' Trade Union), Mr. J. Compton (United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers), Mr. A. E. Holmes (Printing and Kindred Trades Federation of the United Kingdom), Miss Margaret Bondflcld (National Federation of Women Workers), Mr. W. Banfield (Amalgamated Union of Operative Bakers, Confectioners, etc.), Mr. W. F. Purdy (Shipconstructors' and Shipwrights' Society), Mr. W. F. Dawtrey (Steam Engine Makers' Society), Mr. G. H. Stuart-Bunning (Postal Workers), Mr. R. Walker (National Agricultural Laborers' and Rural Workers' Union), Mr. J. Turner (National Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen, and Clerks), Mr. J. C. Gordon (National Amalgamated Sheet Metal Workers and Braziers), Mr. A. A. Purcell (National Amalgamated Furnishing Trades Association), Rt. Hon. J. R. Clynes, M.P. (National Federation of General Workers), Mr. J. Cross or Mr. J. Hindle (United Textile Factory Workers' Association), Mr. E. L. Poulton (National Union of Boot and Shoe Operatives), Mr. Gilbert W. Jones (Operative Bleachers, Dyers, and Finishers' Association), Miss A. H. Tynan (Society of Women Welders), Mr. W. J. Wentworth (Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists of Great Britain and Ireland). Mr. J. Marston (National Union of Police and Prison Officials), Mr. A. Logan (Central Ironmolders' Association), Mr. J. Whitehead (West of Scotland Brass Turners, Fitters, Finishers, and Instrument Makers' Trade Union), Mr. H. Stansfield (National Society of Coppersmiths, Braziers, and Metal Workers), Mr. C. G. Ammon (Port of London Docks and Wharves Staff Association), Mr. J. J. Mallon (Trade Board), Mr. G. D. H. Cole, Secretary.
The first meeting of the Joint Committee, which was addressed by the Prime Minister, was held on March 4, and the following resolution was carried:
That this Committee, in order that its work may be accomplished as expeditiously and thoroughly as possible, divide itself into three Sub-Committees, with the following terms of reference:
(1) To make recommendations concerning:
(a) The methods of negotiation between employers and Trade Unions, including the establishment of a permanent Industrial Council to advise the Government on industrial and economic questions with a view to maintaining industrial peace.
(6) The method of dealing with war advances, and (c) The methods of regulating wages for all classes of workers, male and female, by legal enactment or otherwise.
(2) To make recommendations as to the desirability of legislation for a maximum number of working hours and a minimum rate of wages per week.
(3) To consider the question of unemployment and to make recommendations for the steps to be taken for its prevention, and for the maintenance of the unemployed in those cases in which it is not prevented, both during the present emergency period, and on a permanent basis.
Note—Unrest and output to be discussed by the whole Committee at its next meeting on statements previously submitted by the parties.
The Government were requested to nominate Chairmen of the Sub-Committees, and for this purpose the services of Sir David Shackleton, K.C.B., and Professor L. T. Hobhouse, D.Litt., were obtained, in addition to those of Sir Thomas Munro.
The work of the Committee has proceeded almost continuously till the present date. They have not considered it necessary or practicable to take oral evidence, but numerous representations and suggestions in writing have been placed before them and considered.
Full information and statistics relating to the subjects under consideration have, at the request of the Committee, been supplied by the Ministry of Labor, the Home Office, and from other sources.
As appears from the terms of reference the Committee were entrusted with the duty of suggesting means whereby dislocation of industry, particularly at the present critical period, should be prevented in the interests of the Nation. It was the expressed opinion of the Conference that to secure this end it was necessary that legitimate grievances should be removed, and that harmony and good will should be promoted. The Committee were asked to consider and report upon the causes of the present unrest, and the steps necessary to safeguard and promote the best interests of Employers, Workpeople, and State. In approaching the subject they were specially directed to consider certain specific subjects.
In regard to these specific subjects there was general agreement that there were difficulties affecting hours and conditions of employment, wages, and the methods of their determination; that the whole question of preventing unemployment and providing for its consequence on the individual worker when it did occur called for further provision; and that machinery for promoting cooperation between employers and employees should, where necessary, be revised and improved, and should be extended to include other industries where methods of negotiation and agreement do not at present exist.
At the same time it has been realized that the field of inquiry opened up by the terms of reference is a vast one, and that to explore and report upon it as a whole would require a far closer and more prolonged examination of its numerous aspects, both political and economic, than could be even contemplated by the present Committee in the short period of time allotted to them.
On the causes of industrial unrest and their suggested remedies, the Trade Union representatives submitted a comprehensive memorandum, setting out causes and suggesting remedies. It is their express wish that it shall be published in this report, and it is accordingly printed in full in the appendix hereto. Several questions referred to in this memorandum have been the subject of consideration by the Committee, and recommendations are made in this report which it is believed will provide effective means to remedy or alleviate certain of the grievances which are advanced.
It has been impossible, however, to attempt any exhaustive investigation into every aspect of unrest, to examine fully the relation between underconsumption and unemployment, between wage standards and purchasing power, the relationship of production to the whole economic and industrial situation, and many other fundamental but complicated matters of discussion. It was the intention of the employers to submit a considered statement on the subject of output or production. They have found it impossible to complete a statement in the time at their disposal, but are prepared to do so at a later date. For the purpose both of carrying on future investigation into matters now affecting the industrial situation and of keeping such matters under continuous review in the future and advising the Government on them it is the unanimous view of the Committee that there should be established some form of permanent National Industrial Council. The recommendations of the Committee in regard to the functions and constitution of the National Industrial Council which they propose, appear below. It is sufficient at the present stage to record the conclusion of the Committee that such a Council should be instituted, and to point out that in their view matters on which this Committee themselves have been unable to make recommendations would appropriately be subjects for consideration by that Council.
The questions to which special attention has been given by this Committee in the time available are as follows:
(a) Maximum hours. (6) Minimum wages.
(c) Methods of dealing with war advances.
(d) Recognition of and negotiation between organizations of
employers and workpeople.
(J) The institution of a National Industrial Council.