Trade Union Bill, 1941—Committee Stage.

Wednesday, 13 August 1941

Seanad Éireann Debate
Vol. 25 No. 25

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Sections 1 to 5, inclusive, agreed to.

(4) The Minister shall, for the purposes of this section, maintain a register and shall enter therein the name of any body which—

(a) applies to the Minister for registration therein, and

(b) accompanies its application by a fee of one pound, and

(c) satisfies the Minister that—

(i) it consists of persons who are constantly employed in a particular form of work and are habitually employed by the same employer, and

(ii) carries on negotiations for the fixing of wages or other conditions of employment with that employer only.

[2485] (7) The Minister may by order revoke any order under the next preceding sub-section of this section.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  Amendment No. 1, standing in my name, reads:—

In sub-section (4), line 40, to delete the word “constantly” and substitute therefor the word “normally”; and in line 41 to delete the word “habitually” and substitute therefor the word “normally”.

It is a matter of very considerable satisfaction to me to find that quite a number of the amendments in the name of Senator Quirke seem to have run on singularly similar lines to mine. As I have a sort of suspicion that the Minister may be in agreement with Senator Quirke, I am quite willing, in all these cases, to accept Senator Quirke's amendments instead of my own.

Amendment No. 1 not moved.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I move amendment No. 2:—

In sub-section (4), page 4, to delete in line 40 the word “constantly” and substitute the word “usually”.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Mr. MacEntee): Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  May I point out that I do not think there is anything wrong with the word “habitually,” or even with “constantly”? However, I can see the point the Senator is anxious should be cleared up, that is, that “constantly” sometimes has the meaning of “continuing without intermission.” It was not the intention that that should be so. “Constantly” is not exactly the same as “continuously.”

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  It was brought to my notice, as there was a doubt about it. I take it it was not the Minister's intention.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Perhaps we could get a clearer definition of “usually.” We are not satisfied with the word “usually” because it could be extended to apply to very extreme cases and we should like to know what is meant by the change.

[2486]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It was to meet the point I have made, that “Constantly” might be interpreted as meaning “continuously,” being employed without any intermission or cessation, such as might arise in the case of hands who were “stood off”, temporarily disemployed, and then brought on again. I am following in this matter the Oxford dictionary, and “usually” means that a person is employed in the usual or wonted manner, that he is usually employed by a particular firm and that his employment there is customary. It could be said that he was in his usual employment because, as a general rule and as a regular practice, he is employed there.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Would it apply in the case of seasonal workers such as men employed by maltsters, or, more notably —and Senator Quirke would be aware of this—in connection with the sugar factories, where men are taken on for seasonal employment of a rather casual and temporary nature? Would “usually” cover the class of person who may be taken on for a campaign one year, and who may not be taken on in the next year, and so on?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not think it would cover the case of men taken on in one year and not taken on again, but, as the Senator is aware, the general practice in regard to the beet factories is that men taken on for one campaign are re-employed for the next and so on, because they are experienced in the operations of the factory. So that, I think, we could say that these people were “usually” employed there during the period of the campaign.

Mr. E. Lynch: Information on Eamonn Lynch  Zoom on Eamonn Lynch  The only thing is that the section refers to a “body of persons.” It would seem to me that the word “constantly” is a better word to employ, having regard to the fact that the section is for the purpose of dealing with a “body of persons.” If the word “usually” is to be substituted for “constantly”, it indicates a more fluid personnel to deal with. It does not seem to be quite as good a word as “constantly,” which would connote a more constant body. Has that point occurred to the Minister?

[2487]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The only thing in that connection is, that these people have to fulfil two conditions. They, first of all, have to be “usually” or “habitually” employed in a particular firm or by the same employer. When these two conditions are taken into consideration, I think that the use of the word “usually” safeguards their position, because they could not be said to be “usually” employed by the same employer if, in fact, when work of a particular type was available to them, they were employed by somebody else. There would have to be regular and recurring employment of the same man by the same employer.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  My objection was not so much to “habitually” as to “constantly.” What was in my mind was this. A man is with an employer, and has every reason to believe that his employment will continue with him. But it may happen that for a month, or for a week or two, his employer may have nothing for him to do. I do not want to have that man upset simply because in that short interval he took a job from somebody else. I think there is not a whole lot of difference between “habitually”, “normally” and “usually,” but I am definitely uneasy about the use of the word “constantly.”

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not think the matter is of such great importance as Senator Foran and Senator Lynch would appear to suggest, because these are bodies of persons who would have to conform to a general rule, and in regard to that I think the Minister would have to be satisfied of this fact that, so far as the bulk of the personnel in organisations of this sort are concerned, they would be continuously employed by the same person: that is, that the general corpus of the organisation would be in constant employment with the same employer. There would, of course, be men who would be floating in and out of employment for the reason already mentioned, that some could only be engaged in seasonal occupations, and that some might have to be “stood off” from time to time according to the requirements of the production schedule. In any event, [2488] when we consider the way in which this provision is now hedged round with safeguards, and when we consider the disqualifying effect of Section 11, I do not think the matter is of very great practical importance.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I move amendment No. 3:—

In sub-section (4), page 4, to delete in line 41 the word “habitually” and substitute the word “usually”.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 4 not moved.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I move amendment No. 5:—

In sub-section (7), page 4, to insert in line 53 before the word “revoke” the words and brackets “(which shall come into operation on a specified date not earlier than one month after it is made)”.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think the intention behind amendment No. 4, in the name of Senator Douglas, was to give a body in regard to which a revocation order had been made an opportunity to reconsider its position and, if necessary, to make arrangements to have itself registered, to secure a negotiation licence and convert itself into an authorised trade union. I accepted that in principle, but the draftsman has put it in a form which he considers better suited to fulfill the Senator's intention.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  That was my intention.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment No. 6 not moved.

Mr. Quirke: Information on William Quirke  Zoom on William Quirke  I move amendment No. 7:—

Before sub-section (8), page 4, to insert a new sub-section as follows:—

(8) Nothing in this section shall render it unlawful for any public representative, clergyman, or other responsible and disinterested person to act as mediator in a trade dispute [2489] or to bring together the parties in a trade dispute with a view to reaching an amicable settlement.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  On this amendment, I would like to know from the Minister what is to be the position of trades councils under this Bill and in connection with this section. The Minister, of course, knows what the constitution of a trades council is. It is not a trade union. It consists of representatives of trade unions. It has very little funds of its own, merely the fees paid by the various unions affiliated to it. You have trades councils established in a great many towns throughout the country which occasionally interfere, and in a useful way, in trade disputes. What will their function be in the future? Let us suppose that there is a trades council in the town of Tullamore. If there is a dispute there between a trade union affiliated to it and a body of employers, and it proposes to act as an intermediary—to help to bring the parties together and to see what it can do to settle the dispute—will it be precluded from rendering a useful service of that sort in the future? I would like to know that from the Minister because I do not think it would be covered by this amendment.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I am afraid the word “disinterested” would rule it out. I was anxious to meet the point made in the other House—and which has been raised by Senator Douglas in his amendment, though I am not sure there is very much in it. As the Bill stands now, the person who proposes to act as an intermediary, to bring together the parties to a dispute, might be thought, if he were sitting at the council table, to be participating in the negotiations. If he were a single person, perhaps it could be argued that he was not covered by the Bill in so far as a single person is not a “body of persons”, but if it were, for instance, a committee of citizens, a committee of a charitable organisation or of some other public organisation of that sort which was acting in the matter, they, possibly, would come within the terms of the Bill, and if they were actually sitting and participating in the negotiations for a [2490] settlement of the dispute, in so far as the dispute related to the fixing of wages or the conditions of employment, then, I think, they would be covered by the Bill. My purpose here was to meet that case, to ensure that public spirited people could act in this way as mediators. It becomes more difficult when we begin to consider members of trade unions or officials of trade unions, particularly if those bodies are neither registered as trade unions nor excepted under the terms of Section 6, because, then, we might have a coach-and-four driven through the main principle of the Bill, which is that organisations which propose to negotiate on questions of wages or conditions of employment shall be either authorised trade unions or excepted bodies. In order to preserve the fundamental principle of the Bill, it was necessary for me, in accepting the principle of Senator Douglas' amendment, to add this qualification— that those who do act as intermediaries should be disinterested persons who have no immediate association or connection with the dispute in question. I do not see how I can put a trades council into that category, and it is a case of accepting the amendment with the qualification I have inserted or allowing the Bill to go through as it stands. There may be a possibility of dealing with this matter by making trades councils excepted bodies, but I have not fully considered the implications of that course, and I should not be prepared to say, at this stage, that I would regard trades councils as coming within the category of organisations which should be excepted bodies under Section 6.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  It is a pity that trades councils should be debarred from continuing the useful public service they have been rendering in settling disputes. I am thinking only of their interference when a dispute has actually arisen. I know that they have very often persuaded a trade union involved in a dispute to accept terms, or to agree to negotiation, which they might not otherwise have done. It would be a pity if the Minister could not devise some means whereby [2491] a council of that kind could intervene for the purpose of bringing about a settlement of a dispute which had actually occurred.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  With great respect to the Minister, it seems to me that a trades council is not completely debarred from intervention by his amendment. The trades council as a trades council would probably not be disinterested, but the only persons in the council who would be at all likely to be useful for the purpose would be individuals who would be disinterested. It seems to me that there is nothing in this amendment to prevent an official of a trades council who is in every way disinterested from trying to bring the parties to a dispute together, and that there is nothing to prevent even two officials of a trades council from doing so, provided they are disinterested.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I was asked whether there was anything in the amendment to debar a trades council, as a body, from intervening, and not whether there was anything to prevent a member of a trades council from doing so. I gather that what Senator O'Connell has in mind is the sort of influence which a trades council would bring to bear upon a trade union, affiliated to the trades council, which was engaged in a dispute, with a view to bringing about a settlement. In that case, it would not be discharging the functions of intermediary or mediator. My experience is somewhat limited, but I have never heard of a case where a trades council acted as intermediary between parties to a dispute.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  They have done so.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Dublin Trades Council acted as intermediary between the Department of Posts and Telegraphs and a number of men who were on strike.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I am concerned regarding these words “disinterested” and “responsible”. I could not pick out a disinterested and responsible person. The Minister said that an individual who was a member of a trades council could interfere as an individual.

[2492]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  If he were disinterested.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  Then he would, evidently, be a disinterested and a responsible person. I take it that a member of an organisation who had not a negotiation licence could interfere in a dispute in which the organisation was engaged.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  The word “interfere” is not in the amendment.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  He could act as arbitrator.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Or as mediator.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  He could perform the function of mediator. A trade union which has not got a negotiation licence cannot, of itself, negotiate, but an individual belonging to that union can, I take it, act as mediator. I do not know what a disinterested person is. Is the chairman of a parish council who supplies milk to a dairy in which there is a labour dispute disinterested? Is the chairman of a parish council who supplies beet to a beet factory disinterested if a dispute occurs in that factory? He is, I take it, a responsible person because he is chairman of the parish council. He might also be chairman of the local branch of a political Party, which would make him far more responsible in the eyes of certain people.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  It would depend on the Party of which he was chairman.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  You can pay your money and take your choice. If a parish council says: “Michael Murphy, go and interfere in this dispute which has gone on long enough, so that the manufacture of sugar will not be further held up”, would that man be disinterested?

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I raised this matter primarily for the purpose of getting information. Everybody in the community is, directly or indirectly, interested in every dispute that occurs. Arising out of what the Minister has said, I have known cases where trades councils were successful in bringing bodies of employers and trades unions [2493] together when neither would approach the other. I have known a case where a body of employers would not receive members of the union or discuss the dispute further with them. They were approached by the local trades council and, as a result, the dispute was settled. Can that form of activity continue under this Bill? If the Bill prevents that kind of activity on the part of a trades council, something should be done before it becomes an Act to allow a trades council to continue these useful operations. That is all I am anxious about. I do not ask that the trades council be a negotiating body. I am thinking entirely of circumstances in which a trade dispute has arisen and in which a trades council may act as a means of bringing the parties together or as a means of making representations to them when the amour propre of one party or the other will not allow them to come together.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  I should like the Minister to tell me under what paragraph of this section any person of goodwill is prevented from mediating in a trade dispute, whether actual or pending. My experience is that, when there is a difference of opinion between an employer and his workers, or between a body of employers and their workers, persons of goodwill, of whom there are great numbers in the country—some of them very helpful and some of them not—come in and offer their services as mediators. Are these people, in the event of a dispute or pending dispute, in the future, to be prevented from offering their services and helping to prevent an extension or development of a dispute or the occurrence of a dispute? I cannot see, in any paragraph of that section, where these people are prevented from so doing. This amendment will reserve or preserve that function for a certain section of the community. I should like the Minister to explain that. Supposing Senator O'Neill were back again in the position he held 20 years ago, when he was very active in that kind of work, what would be his position in connection with this Bill? If we had another Senator O'Neill to-day, [2494] ready at all times and at all hours, and under all difficulties, to offer his services to help to end a dispute or to prevent a dispute, would he be prevented, under this Bill, from using his good offices in that direction? I cannot see it in the Bill, and hence I do not see any need for any amendment reserving this function to certain people as being eligible to interfere. Would the Minister explain what the position is?

Mr. Goulding: Information on Seán Goulding  Zoom on Seán Goulding  Surely, this is a case of much ado about nothing. There is nothing here to prevent any individual at all, who is acceptable to both parties in the dispute, intervening. Should both parties agree that a certain individual or body of individuals is or are likely to settle the dispute, and if they agree to accept these people as arbitrators, I do not see that there is anything in this to prevent their doing so.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I should like to say that my own opinion coincides with that of Senator Foran. I held in the other House—and I am not fully convinced that I am wrong; certainly, I am not convinced that I am wrong in regard to single persons—that so far as single individuals are concerned there is nothing here to prevent them acting in the capacity of mediator. The suggestion is that because, in sub-section (1) of the section, we use the word “body”, there might be two or more persons engaged, and if their active mediation went to the extent that they sat down at the council table and, perhaps, acted as the honest broker between the parties, then they might be held to be acting in negotiations or taking part in negotiations, which is slightly different from acting solely as a mediator. It is to make it quite clear that the people who, first of all, bring the parties to the dispute together, and then actually sit down in conference with them, will not be acting contrary to the provisions of sub-section (1) of the section, that I was disposed, and am still disposed, to accept in principle Senator Douglas's amendment. I can see the difficulty which the use of the word “disinterested” might create, and, with the [2495] permission of the House, I am satisfied not to have either amendment moved to-day, but to take the matter back and see whether we cannot get over that difficulty, and, at the same time, prevent a provision of this sort, if inserted in the Bill, being availed of to drive a coach and four through the main principle of the Act.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I am satisfied with the Minister's statement. When I read this first, I did not think there was anything at all in the section to debar one person or one or two persons from acting as mediators. Some Senator, however, referred to it, and when I read sub-section (1) together with sub-section (2) I saw that there was a danger in proving that, say, two persons—possibly, one, but certainly two— were not officers of a body. I do not know whether two clergymen together would be officers of the Church—I hardly think so—but I can see that two persons, who held any position, might be, under sub-section (2). Therefore, it seemed to me that no harm would be done by making it clear that that was not the intention.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Could the Minister say whether the amendment debars officials of the Department from negotiating?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not think so.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Would they not be responsible persons?

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Will they be disinterested?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I have indicated that I can see the difficulties which the word “disinterested” might create.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  When the Minister is reconsidering the amendment, supposing he makes an amendment of this kind, enumerating the people for whom it is not unlawful to interfere, does not that exclude everybody else?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I do not think it would.

Amendment No. 7, by leave, withdrawn.

[2496] Question proposed: “That Section 6, as amended, stand part of the Bill.”

Mr. E. Lynch: Information on Eamonn Lynch  Zoom on Eamonn Lynch  I should like to know what is the position of an excepted body that applies for a negotiation licence. May such a body apply for a negotiation licence? In Section 10, it says that where application is made for a negotiation licence, and the applicant is shown to be an authorised trade union, the Minister shall grant such licence, and it would appear, therefore, that the Minister would be mandated to give the licence. Would that be applied in the case of a body under Section 6?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Yes, it would. I tried to make it clear in the Dáil that any body, which is an excepted body, can, if it chooses, convert itself into an authorised trade union and secure a negotiation licence on complying with the provisions of Section 7 of the Bill: that is, register as a trade union and pay the appropriate deposit. In fact, the only purpose of the provisions relating to these excepted bodies is that there may be cases where they would not wish to be registered as a trade union and would not pay the necessary deposit, but any body which wishes to become an authorised trade union, and thus get the benefits of Section 11, can do so by fulfilling the conditions of Section 7.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I wonder what were the considerations that induced the Minister to make an organisation of teachers an excepted body. I should like to have his view on that, and to know why he picked on that organisation to be an excepted body. I cannot imagine what his reasons were, unless he took it that teachers carry on negotiations only with the Minister concerned.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Yes.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  That is not the fact.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Yes, as a rule.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Well, not even as a rule. There are three main bodies of teachers in the country. The national teachers, of whom there are 13,000 or 14,000, are in a very anomalous position. [2497] The Government is not their employer. It pays them, but it does not employ them and it cannot appoint them or dismiss them. They are appointed by local managers and their services can be dispensed with by local managers, and many of the negotiations with regard to conditions of service are carried on between the National Teachers' Organisation and the Central Council of Managers. Quite recently a very important condition of service was agreed upon in that way. The Minister may be familiar with the facts. At any rate an arrangement was carried as a result of negotiations with the Catholic managers, and possibly one of the most important conditions governing the tenure of teachers has resulted from negotiations with the Bishops. I am wondering whether we can have further negotiations with the Bishops or whether they can carry on further negotiations with us unless they apply for a negotiation licence. The Minister can except them if they apply for exception, but I can hardly fancy their Lordships making such application.

Again we have the vocational teachers, a substantial body, whose employers are the local vocational committees. They must carry on negotiations with the individual local committees. The teachers in each county will carry on negotiations with the committee. The Government have a say in some cases.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It has the most important say. It has the last word.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  They have a very big say in so far as the money is concerned but they have not all the say. They say what may be done, but the council may not always do what they would be allowed to do. I remember a case was mentioned at a conference of vocational teachers quite recently in which it was shown that a particular council did not grant a bonus or some other concession to the extent the Government allowed. Protracted negotiations were carried on between the vocational teachers' organisation and that particular county committee. Then you have [2498] secondary teachers whose employers are private corporations or sometimes private individuals. The Government are not entirely the employers of the teachers, and negotiations have to be carried on with bodies other than the Government. That is why I am wondering why the Minister thought it necessary to exclude teachers' organisations. I think what he had in mind was that they were Government employees or servants, and were in the same position as civil servants. As I have pointed out they are not—far from it.

On the question of an organisation recognised by the Minister for Education, does that mean that they have to apply for this recognition, and that recognition may be withheld? I cannot fancy recognition being withheld from any responsible body of teachers, but there are very small unions of teachers. There must be 13 or 14 different bodies of teachers—small unions. I mentioned the three big bodies, but there are small unions of teachers which negotiate from time to time with their own employers—not very often with the Government, but mainly with their own employers. I take it that any union that wants to be in a position to negotiate must apply for recognition to the Government in the first instance. Our particular union has been negotiating for the last 80 years; at least we were never refused recognition. I do not suppose we shall be refused it now, but we never had to ask for recognition either.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  May I add to what Senator O'Connell has said in explanation of the position of secondary teachers? Assuming that Senator O'Connell is correct, his remarks apply with great force to secondary teachers. There are at least two, and perhaps more bodies of lay teachers. There is no official recognition formally, but I know that the Association of Secondary Teachers has been recognised in fact over a long period of years. It was recognised by the British Chief Secretary when he was here. It was recognised by the Minister for Education constantly as representatives [2499] of the association frequently saw his officials and saw the Ministers on deputations. These teachers are paid partly by their employers and partly, in so far as increments are concerned, by the State. They have a superannuation fund, and have negotiations with the Minister for Education as regards these matters. In regard to another very important matter, tenure, they are constantly in negotiation with the Association of Catholic Headmasters, and the Association of Protestant Headmasters. So that they have constant negotiation not only with the Government but with one or more other bodies.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  With the Bishops.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Sometimes with the Bishops. They have to go sometimes to the Bishop of the Diocese. The Minister might consider that matter. Like the national teachers, they are in a peculiar and anomalous position. They get the basic part of their salaries from the school and their increments from the State, but the employer is the school. The Minister understands the position fairly well in that regard. I wonder how they stand in regard to this section?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It seems to me the position is quite clear. Bodies which are recognised, to be recognised, de facto, by the Department of Education are ipso facto exempt, by the very fact that the Department of Education is prepared to carry on negotiations with them. That will except these bodies from the penal provisions of sub-section (2) and from the prohibition contained in sub-section (1). There is nothing in sub-section (3) which makes it necessary for any one of these bodies to apply for exception. By reason of the fact that the Minister is prepared to carry on negotiations with them, they are ipso facto excepted bodies.

In relation to other difficulties which Senators have mentioned, they can be dealt with under sub-section (6). That is one of the reasons why sub-section (6) has been inserted. We simply say, in regard to organisations of headmasters and organisations of clerical [2500] managers to which Senators have referred, that they are excepted bodies, and there is no need for them to make application. The only case in which it is necessary for an application to be made is a case where what would be, known as a group or a house union would be concerned. That is under sub-section (4), where application must be made, and where the name of the group must be inscribed on the register and a fee must be paid. So far as the bodies in sub-section (3) are concerned, these are excluded by the Minister under sub-section (6), and application to the Minister is not essential. If there is any difficulty in the way of such an application being made, the Minister can of his own act overcome that difficulty. Of course, so far as the great majority of bodies which would fail to be considered under sub-section (6) are concerned, they would have to make application, because they would be unknown to the Minister and unknown to any Government Department. If there was an obscure professional association which wished to be accepted under this section, it would have to make application. In the case of bodies of recognised standing, whose status is beyond question, that application is not necessary.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  The Minister has not answered my question as to what were the considerations which induced him to except teachers' organisations.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is felt that there is no reason to compel any association which has secured de facto recognition from the Department of education, as representing teachers, to take out a negotiation licence.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  You are penalising them.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We are not now.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  There are a few points which I should like to clear up on this section. The Minister does not seem inclined to deal with the matters which I raised on the Second Reading as to the constitutional position. I shall not repeat these arguments, because the Minister is not inclined to deal with them.

[2501]Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We have obtained legal opinion on the matters raised by the Senator, and the Bill, in the opinion of our legal advisers, is not repugnant to the Constitution.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I should like to ask the Minister how is it proposed to administer the Bill. Who will be responsible for the administration of the Bill? How is it proposed to discover whether negotiations are actually in progress, or what is meant by “to carry on negotiations”? I take it from what the Minister said this evening that, while it is not lawful for a body to carry on negotiations, it is lawful for a member of that body to carry on negotiations.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I have not said that. We were dealing with the question of a member of a body acting as intermediary. I made the reservation quite clearly, that if this intermediary were to sit down at the table and actually to take part in the bargaining, then I felt his position would be rather doubtful.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  If a member of a body, which has not a negotiation licence and is engaged in a dispute, is a member of a trades council, that individual is entitled to bring the parties together; he is a mediator, he is not doing anything unlawful; but, if he sits down to negotiate, it becomes unlawful for him?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  If he sits down as representing one side in the dispute.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It is an anomalous position. The Minister disagrees that a member of an organisation can negotiate, but it is stated here distinctly in the section that it shall not be lawful for any body to negotiate. Does that mean that an individual member of the body cannot negotiate?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Not if he is representing the body; not if the body is not qualified to negotiate. Let us be clear. If he negotiates as representing a body which has a negotiation licence or is an excepted body, then he is doing nothing unlawful. If he negotiates as representing a body [2502] which is neither an authorised trade union nor an excepted body, then I think he would be contravening the terms of the section and would leave himself as a member of this body and leave the body itself open to whatever penalties there are in sub-section (2). But I find it very difficult to see how a person who is neither a member of an an excepted body nor a member of an authorised trade union could sit down and propose to negotiate on behalf of a body of organised workers. It seems to me that we are dealing with a situation which would never arise in practice. If the workers are organised, they will probably be one thing or the other; they will be an excepted body, or they will be an authorised trade union. I do not think that, with the growth of trade unionism in this country, we are likely to get very many bodies of organised workers who are neither one thing nor the other.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  That raises a point which we had on Second Reading and which there is no use in traversing again. I think the Minister is not very well informed on that, with all respect to him. There will be many bodies who will not be either authorised or excepted and the point is, will these not be allowed to negotiate? Is it sufficiently clear to the Minister that an individual member of a body cannot negotiate?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  If he negotiates as a representative of a body, I do not think he can. If he does not negotiate as a representative of a body, I cannot see what force his action would have when he sits down as a man of straw, because that is what he would be, to discuss the question of regulating wages or conditions of employment.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  He could be the chairman or secretary or delegate in respect of a portion of a body who may want some alteration in their conditions of employment. A number of them may be the employees of a firm. If he writes a letter to this firm and asks them for an increase, is he negotiating? Is the body negotiating if he writes that letter? If he goes into a particular firm, is the body negotiating, or is [2503] it only portion of the body, or is it only the individual who is actually acting?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Again, it is a question more for a lawyer than for me at the moment. I assume that if a person merely serves a demand or a request for an increase, he has not at that stage entered into negotiation. There must be two parties to a negotiation.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Section 6 says that it shall not be lawful for any body of persons to carry on negotiations, and so on. Supposing a union wants to get round this section and directs the chairman or secretary to negotiate and do the best he can on behalf of the union, is he a body within the meaning of the Bill?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  He is a member of a body.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  But the section does not say anything about a member of a body.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  “The members of the committee of management or other controlling authority of such body and such of the officers of such body as consent to or facilitate such act shall each be guilty of an offence...”

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  The body has to act first. Is the individual so acting a body? It does not say “a body, or person acting on behalf of a body”. If they send some one as a plenipotentiary to negotiate is he a body?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I expect that, if a body which is acting unlawfully sends him, he will be there as the representative of the body, and they will be responsible and he will be responsible. However, that is a matter for the lawyers.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  It is not very clear in the Bill.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think it is quite clear.

Mr. Campbell: Information on Sean Patrick Campbell  Zoom on Sean Patrick Campbell  Supposing an individual member of a trade union seeks to secure an increase of wages by a [2504] personal application to the employer, would that be illegal? That is done in hundreds of cases in my trade. They make their own applications in respect of wages and conditions of employment.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  There is nothing to prevent a single individual doing that.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  What is the purpose of these points which are being raised from the Labour Benches? Is the purpose to suggest ways by which this can be got round, or is it that the Minister should tighten up the Bill still further? If those points are made, it would be very easy to tighten up the Bill still further.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I want to explain that my purpose was to endeavour to see that any Bill which passes through this House is not open to misconception or to being misconstrued; that it is a Bill which would say exactly what we wanted to say. I want to be quite clear in my own mind as to what it means.

Professor Magennis: Information on Professor William Magennis  Zoom on Professor William Magennis  Senator O'Connell assumes that if an individual member is deputed by the body of which he is a member to act for them he is not representing them or acting on their behalf. He added that there is nothing in the Bill about that. Those who make that point forget the law. The principle itself is based on the maxim of Roman law, adopted by all civilised peoples: qui facit per alium facit per se. Consequently a person who is negotiating on behalf of a body which possesses a negotiating licence is acting legally.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  The people who will be dealing with this Bill will not be lawyers and they will not understand those niceties.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  How is it proposed to administer the Bill; who will have the administration of it?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  The Minister for Industry and Commerce.

Question put and agreed to.

Question proposed: “That Section 7 stand part of the Bill.”

[2505]Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  This section deals with deposits, and is a very strange feature in this Bill. There are many trade unions that have not the amount of money selected as a deposit by the Government, because many of them pay friendly society benefits, unemployment and otherwise, and consequently their reserves are limited. To ask these unions to deposit £1,000 is asking the impossible, and serves no useful purpose. I cannot understand what was in the Minister's mind when he introduced the question of deposits at all, seeing that he has the right to refuse a licence to a trade union. Is not that so?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No. If a body registers as a trade union and makes the appropriate deposit it is mandatory on the Minister under Section 10 to grant a negotiating licence to such a body on application.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  Will the Minister explain-what he hopes to achieve by insisting on such a rather large deposit from trade unions? If he has in mind the closing down of small unions this section will certainly have the effect of driving them out of existence as well as putting very drastic penalties upon them. These unions have a long history, and at this stage it is rather a severe penalty to ask them to make this deposit. I believe there is not power under the Bill to reduce the amount. Had the Minister in mind the provision of some security by what he called foreign unions operating here? Is that the reason for the deposit? If that is so, that could be done without penalising small Irish unions, whose funds are never very large on account of the amount of benefits they pay out. This provision will be a tremendous handicap on these unions in future. I believe the Bill would be just as effective if the Minister did away with the proposal regarding deposits. To ask these unions to put down £1,000 is asking the impossible. Other unions, and particularly the foreign ones, can make the deposit on behalf of their members here. It will be no hardship on them to do so. I should like to know what object will be [2506] attained by insisting on deposits from trade unions?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I think the purpose which this section seeks to serve is quite clear, if we bear in mind the important place that trade unions have come to occupy in our productive economy. It is quite clear that they have become so powerful, that they can do so much good, or so much harm if conducted in an irresponsible way, that only responsible organisations should be permitted to continue to exist. I do not know of any general principle by which you could test the responsibility of such organisations, without a specific inquisition into the affairs of every individual organisation, except by applying some test of this sort. There is a great deal to be said for a test of this kind. If organisations that have been in existence for some time have been managed with any sort of prudence, particularly if they have been undertaking the business of a provident society, by providing burial benefits, unemployment benefit, and pensions for members, it is quite clear that they should have built up substantial finances. Unless they have built up these finances they ultimately will not be in a position to meet their commitments to the members. Accordingly, the fact that they have these finances is an indication of the general efficiency, business capacity, and sense of responsibility with which the affairs of these unions have been administered. On that account there is a great deal to be said for insisting on deposits of this sort.

I think the case is unanswerable, when you come to consider the prominent position which trade unions now occupy in our industrial economy. Obviously we cannot permit our industrial development to be hampered, or to become the sport, as it sometimes has been, of irresponsible individuals who, under the existing law, can have themselves registered as trade unions. It is an indication of irresponsibility if you have trade unions purporting to be able to defend the interests of hundreds and, in some cases of thousands, of members, and not have £1,000 in their funds. I think you could not regard [2507] a body in that position as being a responsible organisation and personally I do not think it should be regarded as having the right to speak for or to negotiate on behalf of any body of people. Certainly I do not think it should have the right to dislocate an essential service in this country, as under the existing law it has done.

It is in order to clear up that position that we are imposing this condition henceforward on trade unions. We are also imposing it because we feel that there should be some substantial guarantee asked from those who henceforward propose to organise trade unions in this country. We think if this condition had been in existence— not 20 years ago, but in later years—a great deal of the trouble and of the difficulties which have manifested themselves in our industrial life would have been avoided. The imposition of this condition will ensure that henceforward there will not be the same temptation to break away from a union and to start an inter-union feud. After all, those who are tempted to break away or who are not prepared to compose their difficulties inside their own trade organisation will be faced with this position, that they will not be able to go out and to negotiate for any body of men unless they are able to make a deposit of this sort. I think the deposit when made will be an earnest of the responsibility of those who have been conducting trade unions. As a preventative against the formation of splinter unions or breakaway unions and to prevent further disputes in industrial life, this deposit is desirable and, in fact, essential.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I understand the Minister's attitude in this matter and sympathise with his desire to prevent what one may call mushroom unions, but I think Senator Foran had in his mind quite a different type of union. Perhaps the Minister has power to make it an excepted body. There are old craft unions in Dublin whose respectability, probity and prudence hardly can be judged by the amount of money they could put up. That kind of union has a tradition and very often as a negotiating body it is quite reasonable, [2508] led by people who have plenty of experience of that kind. Has the Minister power under this Bill to except that type of union from the provisions?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I have, but if they are excepted they fall under the disqualification of Section 11. They cannot have it both ways. I can except a craft union if the craft union makes application. In regard to these old-established craft unions, which we have heard of here and elsewhere, I am as sympathetic as anybody else with them, and pay them the same sort of tribute as everybody else. They do represent a tradition, but if they have been long established, if, as we are told, their activities are very largely provident activities, then I do not think that, being small unions, having been long established and having carried on these provident activities, in the majority of cases, they should have any difficulty whatsoever in paying the £1,000 asked for as the minimum deposit under this Bill.

If, by reason of special circumstances of this time, or by reason of increased unemployment, or anything like that, they are not in that position, I am prepared to consider their cases sympathetically under Section 8, but I can do that only as long as the emergency lasts. That gives them the duration of the war and a year afterwards to put their house in order. It also gives them time to consider, in conjunction with other bodies in a like position, whether they cannot federate, or even amalgamate, for the purpose of making the necessary deposit.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  I am afraid the Minister has no conception of how many of the older trade unions exist. At no time have they a reserve fund of £1,000. I have in mind a very old union in the building trade. This union pays a lot of friendly benefits, and at some periods, when trade is brisk and all the members are working, they are fairly well off in funds. At other periods, when there is a lot of unemployment in the trade, they are very low in funds. They meet that by a levy on the members who are working, in order to meet their commitments to the unemployed members. The Minister is asking [2509] them to levy themselves £2 per head in order to qualify for a negotiation licence. Men may be prepared to pay a levy to support their unemployed members, but it is very doubtful if they ever will pay a levy in order to deposit £1,000 in the High Court.

My suggestion is that the Minister look into this matter and consider unions who have, as he says, his sympathy, and take into account their traditions and their long record, with a view to recognising their difficulties and making some provision to reduce the amount or to take it in instalments. I am afraid he will do considerable harm to a number of these unions in the building trade who are subject to many spells of unemployment and who normally find it difficult to carry on. If their funds are depleted to the extent of £1,000, it may mean hardships that they cannot possibly stand. As I said on an earlier stage of the Bill, it may do more harm than good. I am sure that Senator Campbell knows a number of unions in the printing trade more or less similarly affected.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  I was about to make the point that Senator Foran has made. In some of the unions in the building trade—I think Senator Foran had one in mind I was thinking about— the employment is not regular, and they are rarely in funds. They have a feeling that they are somebody, that they have a craft, a tradition, and so on. They may not be very up-to-date, and may not be the best kind of union for several purposes, but there they are, and they are entirely worthy of respect. I would like to support Senator Foran's suggestion that the Minister should take into consideration whether, within the terms of the Bill, he can do anything to preserve them as unions without subjecting them to a deposit which, in their particular circumstances, would be unreasonable.

Donnchadh O hEaluighthe: Information on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Zoom on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Tá morán daoine ag labhairt ar an mBille seo agus tá morán trácht ar cheárdaí, ach ní dóigh liom gur labhair morán ceárduidhe ar an gceist in aon chor.

Micheál O hAodha: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Nach ceárduithe sinn go léir? Nach ceárduidhe mise?

[2510]Donnchadh O hEaluighthe: Information on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Zoom on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Ní ceárduidhe thú ach ollamh. I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the position of some workers who have not been referred to. This is mentioned as a Trade Union Bill, but very few tradesmen have spoken on it at all.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  That is a strange definition of tradesmen.

Mr. Healy: Information on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Zoom on Denis Donnchadh D Healy  Senator Hayes has suggested that he is a tradesman, and I suggest that he is a professor. I wish to refer to some other crafts in this city which have been dwindling owing to certain circumstances. In horse-shoeing there is a certain amount of activity now because of the scarcity of petrol, but that is an old craft which has become very small indeed, and I do not see how they would be able to put up the money required under this Bill. There is also the trade I am in myself—the harness-making trade—in which there are very few left in the City of Dublin. There is also the old handcraft tailoring trade. Probably very few members of this House pattonise handcraft tailors. I do not see how these unfortunate craftsmen would be able to put up the money, as they are suffering greatly for some time past owing to the division of labour. There are other craft trades which, unless amalgamated into some larger body, cannot possibly put up the money specified in this Bill. There are also a few handcraft bootmakers operating in the City of Dublin just now. As I said of the tailors, possibly there are very few in this House who patronise the old handcraft bootmakers. All these trades are now dwindling, not through any fault of their own but because of changed circumstances. On their behalf I would appeal to the Minister to give these old handcraft trades some consideration in their diminished numbers.

Mr. E. Lynch: Information on Eamonn Lynch  Zoom on Eamonn Lynch  I would like to add my voice in asking the Minister to reconsider this section. There is a large number of small unions, called local unions, in the country, and they will be incapable of making anything like the deposit which is asked from them. To put them out of existence would, in my opinion, cause a good deal of [2511] disturbance because they are performing, and have been performing, very essential services for their members. Looking over the official list of trade unions affiliated to the Trade Union Congress it seems to me, at a general glance, that there would be somewhere about 50 per cent. of these organisations who, on the number of their members, will be incapable of putting down this deposit. What will become of them is a very important question. With regard to crafts, the crafts have their traditions, their customs, habits and ways of procedure and so on, and there will be great difficulty in getting such bodies, highly individualised as they are, to fuse or to federate. Then there are small sections of amalgamated unions in this country, and it is difficult to see how they will be able to lay down this deposit, because of the very small size of the section in this country. It is difficult to see also what will ultimately become of them if they are incapable—as they will be incapable—of laying down the deposit. Great difficulty indeed will be found in getting them to associate. I would like the Minister to say that he would be prepared to give that section further consideration, in view of the extraordinary difficulties that will be found the moment you attempt to amalgamate these small bodies.

Mr. Campbell: Information on Sean Patrick Campbell  Zoom on Sean Patrick Campbell  I would like to support what Senator Lynch has just said. I have in mind a small union of the printing industry, a branch of a well-organised British union. I do not think that there are more than 40 members in it, and these people will be compelled under this Bill to pay a deposit of £1,000. I think that is going to be a constant hardship on these people. While I am on the question of the deposit I would like to ask the Minister, if all reference to the deposit were omitted from the Bill, would not the Minister still have the right to refuse a negotiating licence to any union applying for it?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No. In fact, if the Senator will consider the position, I think he will see it would be an impossible one, and it would be one which would perhaps justify all the hard [2512] things that have been said against this Bill if the Minister were to have the power to refuse to issue a licence to any trade union. I mean, the only way in which we can really ensure that the Minister will intervene to the minimum extent possible in trade union activities and in the work of reorganising the trade union movement is by imposing some condition like this—some impersonal rule.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  Why must it be a money condition?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Because I cannot think of any other one. I cannot think of any other one against which even stronger objections could not be urged. If we were to impose a membership condition, if we were going to regulate the formation of unions by the number of their members, we would have the same sort of outcry; we would be told that there were unions a long time in existence which could not possibly fulfil that condition. If we were to say that only unions which had been established, say, for a period of years would be recognised, then we would be asked, what about the trade unions which have been formed more recently to meet the changing conditions of industry? It does not matter what condition you impose, you will find objections of the same type being raised against it as are being raised against the present proposal. The present proposal, at any rate, has the merit that the Minister or the Minister's Department does not directly yet every trade union. If we had not a condition of this sort, the only way in which I could see the problem being solved would be that the Minister would have to set up some sort of investigation—or inquisition, as it would then be termed—into the affairs of every trade union and to decide as a result of that investigation which of them was fit to survive and which of them ought to be compelled to go out of existence or to merge their identity with some other trade union. The proposal which we have in the Bill, at any rate, has not that objection to it. It only means this, that the right of every trade union to continue as an [2513] independent entity will be determined merely by its past history, by the prudence with which it has managed its affairs.

I would like to say too in regard to some of the bodies which have been mentioned here that some of them are not to be found in the register of trade unions, and I do not think some of them are affiliated to the Irish Trade Union Congress, so their existence must be very obscure, and I doubt whether they are as effective organisations as is contended. However, for unions of this sort, which are neither registered as trade unions nor affiliated to the Trade Union Congress, it seems to me that they must face up to the new position. They can do that by federating or amalgamating or attaching themselves in some way to some of the stronger unions, if they wish to survive in that way, or else they can apply to be made excepted bodies.

In regard to any applications which are made by unions to become excepted bodies, they will, of course, be very carefully considered, but my general disposition will be, I must say, not to grant these exceptions easily. If there is a good historical case, if, in fact, the union has a long tradition behind it, then for the sake of that tradition the exception may be granted, but it must be clearly understood that, if it is granted, it will carry with it the disqualification of Section 11.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I endeavoured here on the Second Reading to make a case for a certain type of trade union, for which the Minister does not seem to have a great deal of respect. I am not concerned whether it is in the list of unions affiliated to the Trade Union Congress or not. I am glad the Minister said that these bodies will be judged on their history. I am not a bit afraid to face any impartial body who will examine their history, both as a social organism and as a national organism. I said here, and I repeat, that these bodies were a vital force in the community and that they did immense work for the workers in those areas, and I might say, as a national entity, when they made the town of Ennis and the county of Clare as tight as a drum in order to release the prisoners from [2514] Mountjoy. It was a body that was worthy of consideration and to say that it does not appear in the list of bodies affiliated to the Trade Union Congress is no argument against it.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Or registered as a trade union.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It is registered as a trade union.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I had not the body, to which the Senator refers, specifically in mind.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  It is registered as a trade union and the position in respect to it is this. Employment is casual in these towns and these people cannot afford to pay 6d. or a 1/- weekly into a large union, which is the only way in which they will be accepted by one of these large unions. They are doing very valuable work and I think that is a point which should be considered. Is the test going to be that if you have a certain amount of money you are entitled to negotiate or to picket, but if you have not that certain amount of money you are an outlaw? We have heard of “Tents with love and thrones without,” but are we now going to hear of trade unions with money and outlaws without? The Minister should seriously consider that position, because it is going to express itself in a serious fashion. I am merely indicating to the Minister the minds of the people for whom I am speaking. There are other Senators here who could say exactly the same.

Professor Tierney: Information on Prof. Michael Tierney  Zoom on Prof. Michael Tierney  I should like to join in the appeal to the Minister to reconsider, if it is at all possible, even at this late hour, this whole question of making the deposit for trade unions compulsory. I was greatly struck by the case made in regard to this part of the Bill by Senator Hogan and the more I think over it the more I am convinced that the introduction of this principle into our trade union legislation is an unfortunate thing and a thing that will not in the end be productive of any good. It is introducing a sort of oligarchic principle into a region that is supposed to represent the finest form of democracy and it is making distinctions between bodies [2515] representing the most defenceless element in the community on a money basis. That is the part of the Bill that has produced the worst effect on the minds of impartial people outside the Oireachtas. I have heard the Bill strongly criticised on that one point alone, the introduction of a money distinction between bodies representing the workers.

If that point could be got over, it would be the greatest possible improvement. Unfortunately, as the Bill stands, that represents the kernel of the whole matter. The Bill is built up around the question of the deposit. The Minister said he could find no other means of dealing with the question. I suggest this means has come into his mind largely because he has sought along the wrong lines. When you are dealing with a big number of particular cases, if you try to find some machinery by which you can deal with them all you are almost inevitably driven back to the money principle; there is no other way in which you can get at them. Why is it necessary that the Minister should be the judge in this matter? If you have a situation where you have a large number of bodies, and where you have decisions to be taken in particular cases about all these bodies, whether they are entitled to get negotiation licences, why not have that decided in a judicial fashion? Why not set up some body which will be outside politics and trade disputes and which will have the judicial function of deciding to what trade union a negotiation licence can be given?

You are setting up a tribunal under another part of the Bill which is to decide whether one or two trade unions are to represent all the workers in a particular industry or trade. Why not set up that same body or a similar body to decide whether such-and-such a trade union should get a negotiation licence, and do away with this objectionable financial distinction? What is wrong is that the Minister is assuming this enormously onerous and difficult task of reaching what amounts to a judicial decision on a whole series of [2516] particular cases. It is as good an instance as you could find of the State arrogating to itself a whole multitude of powers and duties which it is not able, in fact, to undertake, and, when it tries to undertake it, it is inevitably driven back on some crude and often brutal expedient like this financial expedient in the Bill.

It is, perhaps, too late now to suggest that the whole thing might be recast on different lines, but I feel that as long as this provision making a financial distinction between one trade union and another and giving privileges to trade unions on the basis of their financial power—as long as that is enshrined in the Trade Union Bill, that Bill is not likely to have much success.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  I hesitate to say much, because I realise that this is a very technical matter, and I have no desire to make ignorant remarks as, if I do so, my friends on the right may jump too heavily upon me. I cannot see any alternative to some property test for responsibility. I think you must realise the position has to be faced where you have these mushroom unions into which people suddenly flock when they are discontented with their previous family arrangements. I am very much in sympathy with the Minister's anxiety to ensure responsibility in connection with these negotiating bodies. No doubt Senator Tierney is aware that a property test is applied to persons who wish to enter elected assemblies. For instance, every person who stands for the Dáil has to pay a deposit, which is forfeited if that person does not get a certain number of votes.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  That does not apply to this House.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  It does not. Probably we are not quite so responsible. I am very much in sympathy with the position of these old historic craft unions. They appeal to one's historical sense. Surely the difficulty in regard to them can be got over. Surely these small unions can federate simply for the purpose of obtaining a negotiation [2517] licence. They need not lose their individuality in a case of that kind. Through that federation they can negotiate and I do not see why that federation need interfere in any way with their internal arrangements. That being so, I think they can reasonably qualify for the negotiation licence and so fulfil the requirements of the Bill.

Mr. Foran: Information on Thomas Foran  Zoom on Thomas Foran  I am afraid Senator Sir John Keane's knowledge of the trade union movement is very limited. He should think of a bricklayer joining the same union as a plasterer. I am not at all opposed to this question of making a deposit. I think it is right and proper that a deposit should be made. I suggest that Irish unions of 10 years' standing or more—that goes back beyond the period when break-aways became the fashion—should get a licence without any deposit, or with a comparatively small deposit. There is there all the security you want, because a union which has been in existence for 10 years, and which is still functioning, has proved itself in respect of its members and justified its position in the country. To ask them to pay a small deposit is only right and just, but it is not fair to ask them to pay a levy of £2 per head in order to secure a negotiation licence. I know another union which will have to deposit something in the neighbourhood of £10,000 which represents a levy of only 4/- per head on the members, so that the big union gets away with a comparatively light deposit, while the small union, which is perhaps more effective in its own way, is penalised to the extent of £2 per head. The bricklayers' union in Dublin represents all the available bricklayers in Dublin and I think the same applies to Cork, where they have a local union catering for all the bricklayers there. You have £1,000 from the Dublin bricklayers and £1,000 from the Cork bricklayers and so on. I suggest that a modification on the lines I suggest be made and that unions of 10 years' standing or more, which are native unions, should get a licence without any deposit, or with only a small deposit. To me, it is a matter of indifference. I should like to see consideration in a practical way given [2518] to these unions. You can deal with the non-native unions by the deposit method. It will not be any great hardship on them, but I think it would be more equitable if the suggestion I make were adopted.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  There is another aspect of some importance in connection with this matter. We have been speaking up to the present of the point of view of the workers, but I gather from this that a body of employers may not get a negotiation licence, unless they are registered as a trade union in this or another country. That is the first condition with which they must comply. There are important industries in this country where they may not be able to muster up the seven people necessary to form a trade union. Some of the biggest industries in the country are run by individual firms, as the Minister knows. Suppose one of these employers had to negotiate with his workers—and each employs a very large number—what would be his position? Can a firm in itself register as a trade union?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is not necessary, if they are going to negotiate only with their own employees.

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Take the case of some of our smaller industries. Let us say that there are 10 or 15 employers engaged in a particular industry. They will have to come together and put down £1,000, assuming that they are registered as a trade union. Will it not be a hardship on these people, engaged in an essential native industry, to have to find amongst them £1,000?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  Could the Senator give an example, so that the House may visualise the problem he is presenting to it?

Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  I have not any example in mind at the moment, but I can quite conceive a new industry starting here and two or three employers employing a number of workers. They could not negotiate with their workers without a negotiation licence, and they would not be in a [2519] position to put down £1,000. We have discussed this up to the present from the point of view of the workers, but I think the other side should be given some consideration.

Mrs. Concannon: Information on Helena Concannon  Zoom on Helena Concannon  I think that the use of the word “deposit” without any reference to the provisions of Section 14 gives rather an erroneous impression. If you read Section 14, “deposit” seems to resolve itself into an investment, and it is really for the safety of a union to have such investment. I think we ought to take that into consideration. If you talk of a deposit as a mere sum of money which becomes useless to the organisation, it would be a great hardship, but if you think of it in its new terms as determined by Section 14, it assumes another aspect. It really becomes an investment, a safe investment, and that is for the good of a union.

Mr. Hogan: Information on Patrick Hogan  Zoom on Patrick Hogan  I should have no objection whatever to investing money, if I had it to invest. As a matter of fact, it would be very useful to me if I could buy £20,000 worth of Guinness' shares, but what is the good of telling the Ennis United Labourers' Association that they ought to give £1,000 to the High Court, that it will be invested and that they will get the dividend that accrues? This position must be met fairly and squarely, and it must be realised that these people cannot, and never could, afford it, but yet that they have a right. I object to some of the titles given to these unions. Senator Sir John Keane referred to mushroom unions but the mushroom does not take 30 or 40 years to grow. I believe the Irish term for it is “fás an oidhche”—it grows in one night—and therefore “mushroom” is not the title to apply to these unions. To ask them for money for investment, however, is asking them to achieve the impossible.

Mr. E. Lynch: Information on Eamonn Lynch  Zoom on Eamonn Lynch  To give concrete examples of the difficulty that will arise on re-association, or something in the nature of federation between bodies unable to put down a deposit, [2520] take for instance, an organisation in this country—and when I speak of this country, I mean the whole country, North and South—the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen. There are 470 members in this country and they are a highly technical professional body, affiliated to the Trade Union Congress. That body may not agree to put down a deposit of £1,000 on behalf of a mere 470 members, and a difficulty arises immediately owing to the technical nature of the occupations of the members of this organisation. Into what fold would they ultimately go? I suggest, and I have some experience in the matter, that there is scarcely an analogous organisation in the country which would be putting down a deposit into which they could go. That is a typical example.

Mention has been made of the building trades. Each of the organisations in the building industry is an extremely old organisation. Some of them possess charters going back to the time of Charles II, and they are quite proud of these charters, which gave them their initial rights. There is the organisation mentioned by Senator Foran, representing the bricklayers, operating in the City of Dublin. He referred to a small body of similar character in Cork, and there are several other numerically small organisations in that industry, and, while, at first blush, it would seem quite easy for these bodies to federate and to fuse their organisations, while it seems that there should be no difficulty about their doing so, it must be realised that the rules of these organisations have to be completely uprooted and traversed, their benefits have to be re-associated and their officials have to be re-arranged, involving enormous difficulties for them.

Then you have small organisations in this country like the National Union of Packing Case Makers. They are a branch of an English organisation. I suggest that a body with 219 members would hardly be able to make this financial deposit. That is an organisation of a technical character also. It is difficult to see where you would get several other bodies of that character [2521] to come together so as to be sufficiently financially strong to be able to provide this deposit. There is no use in our thinking of a federation in the technical sense in which federations are usually talked of. You have to think of a complete homogeneity in regard to this new organisation, and such a task as that would be fairly formidable. These are some of the results which are bound to arise out of the working of this legislation. The method of making a deposit proposed in the Bill will act like a guillotine, chopping off heads large and semi-large. Is there no other method which might be thought of, one of a more flexible character which would take into consideration the various anomalies, difficulties and complexities, so that it might be adopted rather than the method of deposit outlined in the Bill? If the method of deposit is adhered to, the resultant difficulties will be extremely great.

Sir John Keane: Information on John Keane  Zoom on John Keane  Listening to Senator Lynch, I fail to see how some clever lawyer, and not even a very clever lawyer, could not devise some form of federation for the purpose of enabling a number of these smaller unions to get a negotiation licence. There must be a number of these smaller unions which are not troubled with rivalry of any kind. Let them federate for the purpose of negotiating. I am not at all convinced that some simple form of federation, devised by a lawyer, would not be quite feasible. In that way these smaller unions, out of their joint resources, could make the necessary deposit.

Mr. E. Lynch: Information on Eamonn Lynch  Zoom on Eamonn Lynch  The suggestion that Senator Sir John Keane has made is that these bodies might federate for the purpose of negotiating on the question of wages and conditions of employment, but that for all other purposes they should have a separate existence. I do not know that that is the purpose of the Bill. I doubt very much whether if you were to take from an organisation the principal function which brought it into existence, it would still continue to carry out its minor or subsidiary functions such as the provision of friendly benefits. I am afraid it would not, and anyhow I do not think [2522] that is what is contemplated in the Bill.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  There is nothing contrary to the Bill in the proposal which Senator Sir John Keane has mentioned. In fact, when some of these organisations have come to see me and made representations in regard to the Bill, I have indicated to them that, in my view, a way out of their difficulties would be for the craft unions in the building trade to federate for the purpose of negotiating for the fixing of wages and conditions of employment as, in fact, they do. When there is a dispute in the building trade here, all the unions are, as a rule, in it and they all negotiate as one body. I cannot see any objection, therefore, to them formally federating themselves and continuing in a permanent form of federation in that way. That indeed is one of the results which this Bill seeks to achieve.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  It is clear that there is nothing obligatory on a trade union to register. It need not register as a negotiating body, and, therefore, need not make a deposit. What I am bothered about is this: that if in a particular trade, no trade union does register, and if there is no employers' organisation and a strike occurs, how is the difficulty to be got over?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  I suggest to the Senator it will be quite time enough to bid the devil good morrow when we meet him.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I can see great dangers arising from a situation of that kind.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  It is only dangerous on the assumption that people are going to ignore the law in this country. I do not think that, as soon as this measure receives the fair and impartial consideration which it deserves, such a course is likely to be adopted, but, if it were, it would be necessary for the State to vindicate the law.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  I am not suggesting that anything unlawful would occur.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  No. But I say that because of suggestions that have been [2523] made elsewhere. It is important, in connection with the whole of this matter, to bear in mind the aspect of it to which Senator Mrs. Concannon has directed the attention of the House, and that is, that this deposit does not cease to become the property of those who make it simply by reason of the fact that it is lodged in the High Court any more than a deposit which is lodged in a bank ceases to become the property of those who make it. This deposit, by reason of the fact that it may be made in the form of approved income earning securities, is perhaps even better than a deposit which would be made in a bank, and, accordingly, the financial difficulties which have been stressed so greatly in the course of this debate immediately are minimised. If there are these old established organisations which we have been told about which, by reason of the fact that they never had to raise substantial sums of money, have not got them now, but if they are of such ancient lineage that they are worthy of all this respect in which it is stated they are held, surely there will be no difficulty in the officers of these organisations going and raising the money either from the wealthier organisations within the trade union movement which would be prepared, I am sure, to help them out in a difficulty of this sort, or else from the regular sources from which such funds can be raised.

Mr. M. Hayes: Information on Michael Hayes  Zoom on Michael Hayes  From the master builders.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  From their bankers. I imagine these organisations have banking accounts. If so, surely they have secured the confidence of their bankers, if they are the type of organisation which is being stressed in this debate.

Mr. Douglas: Information on James Green Douglas  Zoom on James Green Douglas  They will not get much from the banks on the strength of their ancient lineage.

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  We are told that they have been responsibly managed. I do not think banks would have any objection to deal with organisations [2524] of that sort, particularly when they know that their advances would be secure by this collateral which would be deposited in the High Court. The provision in the Bill does not create the hardships which, it has been alleged, it will create for these old, responsible and well managed organisations, if they are, in fact, what they are described to be. It seems to me they will have no difficulty in raising the money. Again, we have heard of the ancient craft of the bricklayer and of the ancient craft of the plasterer. We have been told that every bricklayer in Dublin is in the Bricklayers' Guild and that every plasterer in Dublin is in the Operative Plasterers' Trade Society but we have been told nothing about the financial position of these bodies. According to the latest returns to which I have had access, neither of these bodies would have the slightest difficulty in putting down £1,000. They could put that sum down many times over if they were so minded. It may be that the position has altered since these returns were submitted. If it is altered, we know that the deterioration in their financial position will probably be only of short duration. But if it is altered to any considerable extent, I have taken powers to deal with the situation under Section 8, by which I can reduce the minimum deposit to the nominal sums, in the case of these two organisations, of, probably, £250 or £500. Bearing in mind the history of these organisations, it seems to me that they would have no difficulty in raising £250 or £500 in order to make the deposit. If they had difficulty with their bankers, surely there is enough comradeship in the trade union movement, as a whole, for wealthier organisations to come along and help them out. I think we have had built up here an entirely fictitious case against this section of the Bill.

Let me revert to some of the questions put by Senator O'Connell, who changed sides in this matter. As a rule, the Senator speaks—and quite properly speaks—for the workers, but, in the debate here to-day, he made himself the champion of the masters.

[2525]Mr. O'Connell: Information on Tomas O'Connell  Zoom on Tomas O'Connell  Are they not workers too?

Mr. MacEntee: Information on Seán MacEntee  Zoom on Seán MacEntee  If the Senator would like me to be more precise, I should say that, as a rule, he speaks on behalf of the employees. This evening he has made himself the champion of the employers. He spoke of an industry in which there was only one employer and hundreds or, perhaps, thousands of employees. What, he asked, was to be the position of that employer? His position is fully covered by paragraph (a) of sub-section (3) of Section 6. There is nothing to prevent this single employer from negotiating with his hundreds or thousands of employees, or, as he would presumably do, with the authorised trade union representing these employees. He goes on to ask: “Suppose you had only two or three employers in a particular industry, what are they to do?” I have suggested that individual unions within one industry, such as the building trade, should federate for the purpose of conducting these negotiations. I think it is equally open to the three, four or five employers operating in a particular industry, as Senator O'Connell has suggested, to act similarly. I cannot see any reason why, if these employers are conducting these substantial undertakings, they should not be able to raise £1,000 between them. But if this very unlikely hypothesis be granted, what is to prevent their joining one of the federations of employers, forming a group inside that employers' association and, through the agency of that federated association, conducting those negotiations which they find it necessary to enter into with the organisation representing their employees? I do not think that the employers will be put in any more difficult position than that in which the employees will find themselves. It will be just as easy for employers to federate as it will be for the employees' organisations to federate. The main factor is that we must get some kind of impelling cause behind these two elements in industry to induce them to consider the question of rational organisation of industry. I cannot see that we can get that impelling cause in any other way than we propose to do under sub-section [2526] (7)—by imposing upon them a condition which they will have to fulfil, and which many of them may have to fulfil in co-operation with other similar organisations. I quite admit that this may be a rough-and-ready way of dealing with the matter. We could not frame legislation upon any practical basis which would deal with particular cases, or with particular trade unions, whether of employers or employees, or which would deal with every hard case. It is an old saying that “hard cases make bad law,” and the only thing we can do is to find some general rule, some norm, to which the mass of individuals in the community will have to conform. We have done that here. I do not say that it will not inflict hardship in some cases. That is, unfortunately, almost an inevitable characteristic of law.

Senator Tierney has suggested that this provision is only another example of the way the State is arrogating to itself certain functions. The State is not arrogating to itself any function in this case. The State has the duty to ensure that the general interest of the community will be protected and that the productive interests of the community, as a whole, will not be upset or jeopardised by irresponsible individuals. In my view, the State has, accordingly, the obligation of trying to devise some expedient which will prevent that sort of evil from persisting. We could perhaps, set up some sort of judicial tribunal, as Senator Tierney has suggested, which would call every organisation before it and ask it to justify its right to act on behalf of one class or the other in regard to the fixing of wages or the regulation of conditions of employment. But, surely, to set up a tribunal of that sort would be to interfere very much more and in a more objectionable way with the rights and liberties of individuals. Not only would we be interfering in a more objectionable way but it would be found, I think, that we were interfering in a way which was impractical and impossible. I suppose there would be about 150 organisations —some of them are not known to our law—of one sort and another which negotiate for the fixing of wages and [2527] the regulation of conditions of employment. Will Senators consider how long it would take a tribunal such as has been suggested to consider every one of these cases and to bring the order out of chaos which, we hope, this Bill will do something to effect? If we were to set up the tribunal, we would have all the expense—why, I think that a tribunal of that sort might quite easily cost the Ennis Labourers' Society, for whom Senator Hogan is concerned and, undoubtedly, rightly concerned, very much more than they would be able to afford: perhaps, even more than they might be called on, under this Bill, to deposit, or to raise for purposes of depositing; and they might not be any better off. They might not, at the end of it all, get their negotiation licence, and might be compelled by this tribunal to go out of existence, but in the meantime they would have lost their money trying to substantiate, before the tribunal, their right to survive. It would mean that we could have these proceedings spread out over a number of years, and what would be the position with regard to Irish industry in the meantime, when you would have all those unions, which saw themselves at one time or another having to justify their existence before the tribunal, going out and competing with each other for membership and trying to ensure that, whoever else would be refused a negotiation licence, they would not be refused, trying to ensure that their dangerous rivals and competitors would be put out of existence? Would not a tribunal, such as Senator Tierney suggested, be more likely to aggravate this industrial problem than to cure it?

And, again, what is going to happen in the meantime with all these unions, even if it did work? This is a problem which is urgent. I submit to the House that the failure of the efforts which the Irish trade union movement has made to deal with this problem is an indication that it is not the sort of problem that can be dealt with by a tribunal: that, again, it is a sort of problem with which you can deal only by imposing a general [2528] condition and saying to the trade union: “If you do not conform to that general condition, arbitrary and all as it may be, and empirically applied as it may be, you have got to consider merging your identity with other organisations, or go out of business.” I think that the history of this problem, the domestic history of this problem, in the Irish trade union movement, is an indication that it is not the sort of thing that you can solve by tribunals. Once you can secure preliminary reorganisation of the movement, in the way in which I think this deposit will compel that reorganisation to be undertaken, you can then set up a tribunal which will deal with the wider aspects of the question, which will not have to concern itself with whether an organisation is going to be allowed to exist in this town or that, but in what way the existing large organisations should be restricted to particular fields for the sake of peace in Irish industry.

Now, I think I have dealt, as reasonably as I can, with all the points that were raised. Senator Lynch mentioned the case of the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen. Well, of course, that association is not a registered trade union in this country; it is one of these English trade unions, and its problem is, perhaps, more difficult on that account, but if the organisation, to which these 450 members belong, is not prepared to put up this £1,000 for them, I presume they will have to become a trade union on their own account, registered under the laws of this country, and as these are generally people in fairly well-paid jobs, again, I do not see that they are going to have any great difficulty in raising the £1,000 and making the deposit, bearing in mind that it will be in the form of interest-bearing securities and that the income arising therefrom will go to meet any bank charges that might be incurred by the organisation raising the money. I do not wish to detain the House any longer.

Question put and agreed to.

Progress reported; Committee to sit again to-morrow.


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