The SUBSTITUTE-MINISTER FOR LABOUR moved the adoption of the Report. He emphasised the fact that the success of the work before the Dáil, and in particular the success of the scheme for the establishment of Conciliation Boards, depended to a great extent on the attitude of Labour to the Dáil. He detailed the result of the intervention of the Ministry in Labour disputes.
Mr. D. KENT (Cork, East) seconded the adoption of the Report and urged that a fair scale of wages should be fixed.
Mr. E.J. DUGGAN (Meath, South) reported on the dispute in Co. Meath. The labourers were prepared to accept mediation, but the Farmers' Union refused it. The Secretary of the All-Ireland Farmers' Union intimated to him that if mediation were now offered it would be accepted. The local branch of the Farmers' Union was dominated by ex-officers of the English Army and Unionists.
Dispute was between Meath Farmers Union, MF, ITGWU and Meath Labour Union, MLU. MFU offered agricultural labourers 30s a week in pay while ITGWU demanded 37s per week and eight-hour day. Strike started in June and lasted several weeks with blockades of railway stations preventing livestock from being transported to stock markets in Dublin and harvests affected. Large numbers of RIC and soldiers were sent to area.
Mr. R.C. BARTON (Wicklow, West) suggested that the Sinn Fein farmers should join the Farmers' Union, and make their influence felt in the Union.
ART O CONCHUBHAIR (Kildare South) observed that the suggestion was not a practical one as regards Co. Kildare. The Sinn Fein farmers there were leaving the Union, and in fact some of them had been blackballed out of it. The Co. Kildare Executive of the Farmers' Union was elected in June and held office for twelve months; so that nothing could be done for the present.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT stated that the important thing to do was to get in before the strike really started. Where the Farmers' Union refuse to accept arbitration then the Sinn Fein farmers should be got together to endeavour to adjust the questions in dispute. They were entitled where one party to a dispute refuses the offer of mediation—to throw their force in on the side of the party that accepts the offer.
SEAN ETCHINGHAM (Wicklow, East) believed that political motives were actuating the Farmers' Union to a great extent.
CONCHUBHAR O COILEAIN (Limerick, West) inquired as to the attitude of official labour towards the returned soldiers of the English Army.
The SUBSTITUTE-MINISTER FOR LABOUR, in the course of his reply, stated that the Dáil Ministry should be careful in intervening in those disputes, lest they might meet with a rebuff. There should be a central Conciliation Board to which matters in dispute could be referred, and efforts should be made to have this Board recognised throughout the country. As to demobilised soldiers the position was a difficult one. They were entitled to consideration by their Unions as long as they remained members.
The ACTING-PRESIDENT suggested amending the portion of the Report of the National Arbitration Courts Committee relative to setting up Conciliation Boards by inserting the words "or threaten to arise" after the word "arise" in the second line and by deleting the words "and it be his duty to intervene" in the third line, and the words "that it be his duty" in the fourth line.
The amendment was agreed to, and the recommendation, which as amended reads as follows, was put and carried:—
"That where and whenever disputes between employers and employees arise, or threaten to arise, as to the question of wages, hours and conditions of employment, the Labour Minister be empowered to consult with both parties, to invite them to a conference of representatives, and to appoint a person to act as umpire with power to call in assessors where the need exists."
The Report of the Labour Committee was adopted, as was also the following motion which was moved by the SUBSTITUTE-MINISTER FOR LABOUR:—
"That with a view to securing that the scheme of Conciliation Boards to deal with local Labour disputes shall be effective, it is the duty of each Teachta to furnish to the Ministry of Labour immediate information regarding the outbreak of local Labour disputes and strikes which may take place in his area."