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Great Britain. Court of inquiry
concerning the engineering
trades dispute, 19S2.
Industrial courts act, 1919,

Report,



Bii




4r






INDUSTRIAL COURTS ACT, 1919.



REPORT

BY

A COURT OF INQUIRY

CONCERNING

The Engineering Trades
Dispute, 1922.

Presented to Parliament by Command of His Majesty.



^/^




LONDON :

FEINTED & PUBLISHED BY HIS MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE

To be purchased through any Bookseller or directly from H.M, STATIONERY OFFICE

at the following addresses : Imperial House, Kingsway, London, W.C.2, and

28 Abingdon Street, London, S.W.I; 37 Peter Street, Manchester;

1 St. Andrew's Crescent, Cardiff; and 23 Forth Street,

Edinburgh; or from EASON & SON, Limited,

40 & 41 Lower Sackville Street, Dublin.

1922

Price 6d. net.
Cmd. 1653.



APPOINTMENT OF COURT OF INQUIRY AND
RULES OF PROCEDURE.



ENGINEERING DISPUTE.



Whereas by the Industrial Courts Act, 1919, the Minister of
Labour has power to appoint a Court of Inquiry to inquire into
the causes and circumstances of any existing or apprehended
trade dispute, and any matters appearing to him to be connected
with or relevant to the dispute , and to make rules regulating the
procedure of any such Court ;

And whereas a dispute has arisen between the Engineering and
the National Employers' Federations and the Amalgamated
Engineering Union in relation to the Memorandum of 17th and
18th November (Schedule I. attached hereto), and between the
Engineering and National Employers' Federations and the Trade
Unions specified in Schedule II. attached hereto in relation to
Clauses 1, 2 and 3 of the aforesaid Memorandum.

Now, therefore, the Minister of Labour by virtue of the powers
vested in him by the said Act, and all other powers enabling him
in that behalf, appoints Sir William W. Mackenzie, K.B.E.,
K.C., to be a Court of Inquiry, and directs him to inquire into
and report upon the causes and circumstances of the dispute ;

And the Minister of Labour directs that the following rules
regarding the procedure of the Court shall have effect, that is
to say : —

(1) (i) Any person may, by notice in writing signed b,y the

said Sir William W. Mackenzie, be requested to
attend as a witness and give evidence before the Court,
or to attend and produce any documents relevant to the
subject-matter of inquiry, or to furnish, in writing or
otherwise as the Court may direct, such particulars
in relation to the subject-matter of the inquiry as the
Court naay require,
(u) The Court may require any witness to give evidence
on oath, and may administer an oath for that purpose.

(2) The report of the Court or any interim report shall be

made to the Minister in writing.

(3) Subject to these Rules the Court may regulate its own

procedure as it thinks fit.

(4) In these Rules the expression " Act " means the In-

dustrial Courts Act, 1919 ; the expression " Minister "
means the Minister of Labour ; and the expression
' ' Court ' ' means the Court of Inquiry appointed above
by the Minister under the Act.
And the Minister further appoints Mr. G. H. Ince to be
Secretary to the Court.

Dated this 27th day of April, 1922.

Given under the Official Seal of the Minister of Labour.

H, J. Wilson,
Secretary, Ministry of Labour.






SCHEDULE I.



Memorandum of Conference between The Engineering and
The National Employers' Federations and The Amal-
gamated Engineering Union, held at Broadway House,
Tothill Street, Westminster, London, S.W.I, on 17th and
18th November, 1921.

I. — General.

1. The Trade Union shall not interfere with the right of the
Employers to exercise managerial functions in their establish-
ments and the Federations shall not interfere with the proper
functions of the Trade Union.

2. In the exercise of these functions, the parties shall have
regard to the Provisions for Avoiding Disputes of 17th April,
1914, which are amplified by the Shop Stewards and Works Com-
mittee Agreement of 20th May, 1919, and to the terms of other
National and Local Agreements between the parties.

3. Instructions of the Management shall be observed pending
any question in connection therewith being discussed in accord-
ance with the provisions referred to.

II. — Overtime.

It is agreed that in terms of the Overtime and Nightshift
Agreement of 29th and 30th September, 1920, the Employers
have the right to decide when overtime is necessary, the work-
people or their representatives being entitled to bring forward
under the provision referred to any cases of overtime they desire
discussed. Meantime the overtime required shall be proceeded
with.

Signed on behalf of : —

The Engineering and the The Amalgamated Engineering

National Employers' Federa- Union :

tions : J. T. Brownlie,

Allan M. Smith, Chairman.

Chairman. A. H. Smethurst,

Jambs Brown, Secretary.
Secretary.



37457 A 2

28Ji098



SCHEDULE II.



(1) The Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades
comprising the following Unions : —

Amalgamated Society of Brassworkers.

Amalgamated Society of Farriers and Blacksmiths.

Amalgamated Society of Wheelwrights, Smiths and Motor
Body Makers.

Amalgamated Society of Woodcutting Machinists.

Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers.

Amalgamated Union of Upholsterers.

Associated Blacksmiths' and Ironworkers' Society.

Birmingham Operative Tinplate and Sheet Metal Workers'
Society.

Boilermakers and Iron and Steel Shipbuilders' Society.

Dock, Wharf, Eiverside and General Workers' Union.

Electrical Trades Union.

General Iron Fitters' Association.

Iron, Steel and Metal Dressers' Society.

London United Brass and General Metal Founders' Society.

National Amalgamated Furnishing Trades' Association.

National Amalgamated Union of Labour.

National Amalgamated Union of Enginemen, Firemen,
Mechanics, Motormen and Electrical Workers.

National Brassworkers and Metal Mechanics.

National Society of Coppersmiths, Braziers and Metal
Workers.

National Union of General Workers.

National Union of Operative Heating and Domestic
Engineers.

National Union of Sheet Metal Workers and Braziers.

National Union of Stove, Grate and General Metal Workers.

National Union of Vehicle Builders.

United Kingdom Society of Coachmakers.

Operative House and Ship Painters.

Amalgamated Society of Eailway Vehicle Builders, Wheel-
wrights, Carpenters and Mechanics.

Scottish Brass Moulders' Union.

Scottish Painters' Society.

Ship Constructors' and Shipwrights' Association.

United Operative Plumbers' Association.

United Patternmakers' Association.

West of Scotland Brass Turners, &c.

Winding and General Engineers' Society.

Northern United Enginemen's Association.



(2) The National Federation of General Workers comprising the

following Unions : —

Amalgamated Society of Gas, Municipal and General

Workers.
Dock, Whatf, Eiverside and General Workers' Union.
Municipal Employees' Association.
National Amalgamated Union of Enginemen, Firemen,

Mechanics, Motormen and Electrical Workers.
National Amalgamated Labourers' Union of Great Britain

and Ireland.
National Amalgamated Union of Labour.
National Union of General Workers.
National Union of Vehicle Workers.
Northern United Enginemen 's Association.
Public Works and Constructional Operatives' Union.
Scottish Union of Dock Labourers.
Workers' Union.

(3) The National Union of Foundry Workers.

(4) Amalgamated Moulders and Kindred Industries Trades

Union.

(6) United Operative Spindle and Flyer Makers' Trade and
Friendly Society.



REPORT.



To the Eight Hon. The Minister of Labour.

Sir,

I HAVE the honour to submit the following Keport : —

1. The Court of Inquiry constituted by the prefixed Minute
of Appointment has held five meetings at which the parties to the
dispute referred to in the Minute were present, two in camera
and three in public. The meetings were held at No. 5, Old
Palace Yard, London, on the 28th April, 3rd-, 4th, 5th and 6th
May, 1922.

2. At the enquiry Sir Allan Smith, K.B.E., M.P., represented
the Engineering and National Employers' Federation ; Mr. J. T.
Brownlie, J. P., the Amalgamated Engineering Union ; Mr. H. H.
Slesser and Mr. Arthur Henderson, Jr. (instructed by Mr. P. W.
Cole) the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades, the
National Union of Foundry Workers, the Amalgamated Moulders
and Kindred Industries Trades Union, and the United Operative
Spindle and Flyer Makers' Trade and Friendly Society ; and Mr.
J. N. Bell, J. P., Mr. Will Sherwood, Mr. G. Parker and Mr.
W". T. Kelly, the National Federation of General Workers.

3. Only two witnesses were called in the course of thg Inquiry,
Mr. W. H. Hutchinson and Mr. Peter Dickinson, who were called
on behalf of the Amalgamated Engineering Union. The above-
mentioned parties, however, put in a considerable amount of
documentary evidence.

Dispute re Overtime between the Employers and the A.E.U.

4. The immediate cause of the dispute which was the subject
of inquiry was a difference between the Engineering and the
National Employers' Federation and the Amalgamated
Engineering Union as to the interpretation of a Clause known as
Clause (j) in an agi'eement embodied in a memorandum of con-
ference held between those organisations on 29th and 30th
September, 1920, concerning the question of overtime. The
Clause in question is as follows : —

(j) The Federations and the Trade Union agree that
systematic overtime is deprecated as a method of production
and that when overtime is necessary the following pro-
visions shall apply, viz. : —

No Union workman shall be required to work more than
30 hours' overtime in any four weeks after full shop hours
have been worked, allowance being made for time lost
through sickness, absence with leave or enforced idleness.



In the following cases overtime is not to be restricted —

Breakdowns i

Repairs ( Whether for the Employers or their

Replacements ( customers.

Alterations ;

Trial trips.

Completion of work against delivery dates.
So far as repairs to ships are concerned the removal of
restriction on overtime shall not affect the operation of any
agreement made by the Union or its constituent Trade
Unions with organisations of ship repairing employers."

5. The agreement {see Appendix) from which the above-quoted
Clause is extracted was submitted to the members of the
Amalgamated Engineering Union, and on a ballot was accepted by
a majority of some 43,000 out of a total vote of some 81,000 ; and
" took effect on and from the commencement of the fourth full
pay day after acceptance by the parties," that is to say, on or
about 19th December, 1920.

6. On 28th December, 1920, a circular letter was addressed to
the District Delegates of the Amalgamated Engineering Union
by the General Secretary which contained the following
observations : —

" With regard to Section (j) of the Agreement which deals
with the maximum amount of overtime that Members are
called upon to work, it should be understood that the para-
graph implies that it is considered necessaiy by both parties.

District Committees should have due regard to the num-
bers of men unemployed, and whether such overtime will
tend to absorb members who are unemployed."

7. The Employers on becoming acquainted with the construc-
tion which had been placed by the Amalgamated Engineering
Union on the Clause in question challenged its accuracy, and the
parties met in conference to consider the matter on 7th April,
1921. Following this conference a letter was addressed on behalf
of the Employers' Federations to the President of the Amal-
gamated Engineering Union, which contains the following
passages : —

" Embargo on Overtime. — The Overtime Agreement
arrived at so recently as 29th and 30th September, 1920, and
confirmed by the vote of your members, provides that over-
time may be worked up to 30 hours in any four weeks, and
that in certain cases, specified in the Agreement, overtime
is unrestricted. Notwithstanding that the Agreement pro-
vides in this way for the working of overtime, in many
districts an embargo has been placed by your officials on the
working of overtime.

" Prior Consent to the Working of Overtime. — During
the discussion which preceded the making of the Agreement
referred to, suggestions were made by your deputation that
overtime should not be worked without the prior consent of
representatives of your Union. The employers could not



see their way to agree to this condition, and it was ultimately
departed from by your representatives.

' ' I may remind you that similar claims have been made
in practically every discussion which has taken place on over-
time and the position has been maintained that, subject to
agreed limitations from time to time, the employers are
entitled to require their workpeople to work such overtime
as may be necessary.

" Notwithstanding this, your Council has thought fit to
issue an instruction to your District Officials to the effect
that their prior consent to overtime is necessary.

" On this question you will further keep in mind that,
although the employers contended, and you by your agree-
ment accepted the contention, that overtime cannot be dis-
pensed with, both parties agreed that systematic overtime
is deprecated, and it was explained to your representatives
that, in accordance with the Provisions for Avoiding
Disputes, if any case arose where your members thought
that such advantage was being taken of the Agreement as
resulted in systematic overtime, you were entitled to raise
the question and have it discussed in local conference and
if necessary in central conference. This, as you are aware,
has always been open to your members."
The letter also refers to some cases of difficulty which had
arisen at certain firms respecting the manning of machines and
the employment of apprentices on systems of payment by results.
The letter proceeds : —

" At the conference to-day it was pointed out to your
deputation that the Federations had very seriously considered
the position arising out of the demands which had been made
and the action taken in connection with the questions above
referred to, and had come to the conclusion that the issues
involved, and the attitude of your members created a
situation in the engineering and allied industries which was,
without exaggeration, one of the utmost gravity."

8. It was stated in this communication that the employers
were prepared to resume negotiations on the basis that
the " embargo " on overtime was withdrawn, that certain
stoppages of work were terminated, that on questions of
detail respecting the manning of machines and apprentices
no action be taken by members of the Amalgamated
Engineering Union until the general question had been fully dis-
cussed and that the Union should agree that the prior consent of
the representatives of the Union was not required, the only
restriction on overtime being the qualified limitation contained in
paragraph (j) of the Overtime Agreement of 29th and 30th Sep-
tember, 1920. In this last connection the Union were reminded
that the employers had offered, in the event of the acceptance of
the contentions put forward by them respecting overtime, to
discuss further with the Union the effect of the terms of
paragraph (j).



9. The " embargo " on overtime referred to in the letter and
the matters respecting individual firms were disposed of, but not
the question of prior consent to the working of overtime.

10. A national conference of the Union was convened, in the
report of which it was stated that the Executive Council
" believing that the correct interpretation of Clause (j) was that
in all cases where overtime was required on production work, con-
sultation would take place and the necessity for overtime proved
to our local official prior to the same being worked, conveyed this
interpretation to the Districts and Organising District Delegates
in their communication dated 28th December, 1920." The
conference confirmed the Executive Council in the position they
had taken up and passed the following resolution : —

" That this National Conference wholeheartedly support
the E.C. in their interpretation of the overtime and night-
shift agreement ; further, we pledge ourselves to meet this
threat of a national lock-out by the Employers by using the
full strength of our organisation in such a manner as shall
be agreed upon by the E.C."

11. On 2nd June, 1921, an further conference between the
Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Employers' Federa-
tions took place on the subject of Clause (j) : no agreement was
reached, but it was jointly resolved, " that further consideration
of the question stand adjourned until a suitable date can be
arranged by the parties."

12. An offer had been made by the Union to submit the matter
of the interpretation of the clause to an independent arbitrator,
but this offer was refused by the employers.

Dispute re " Managerial Functions " between Employers and

A.E.U.

13. Then followed an interval during which other matters
appear to have occupied the attention of the parties and the ques-
tion of Clause (j) was not raised again until 10th November, 1921,
when the parties met in conference. The • employers, as
I was told by their representatives at the hearing, from the dis-
cussions with the Union representatives at those conferences,
came to the conclusion that the motive power behind those dis-
cussions was not so much a question of overtime or no overtime,
but as to whether or not the employers were to have the right
to exercise their functions without prior consultation with and
prior consent of the workpeople and their representatives. At
the conference of 10th November, 1921, the question which came
to be known as that of ' ' managerial functions ' ' was thereupon
raised by the employers. The conference was succeeded by
another on the subject on 17th which was continued into the
18th November, 1921. The matter having been raised it was
deemed by the employers to be advisable to have it made clear
and at the conference held on the latter date the Memorandum
which forms Schedule I of the Minute of Appointment was agreed
between the representatives of the parties. It was on the terms
of this Memorandum that the whole of the subsequent trouble
arose



10

14. The provisions of the Memorandum are as follow : —

I. — General.

1. The Trade Union shall not interfere with the right of
the Employers to exercise managerial functions in their
establishments, and the Federations shall not interfere with
the proper functions of the Trade Union.

2. In the exercise of these functions, the parties shall have
regard to the Provisions for Avoiding Disputes, 1914, which
are amphfied by the Shop Stewards and Works Com-
mittee Agreement of 20th May, 1919, and to the terms of
other National and Local Agreements between the parties.

3. Instructions of the Management shall be observed
pending any question in connection therewith being dis-
cussed in accordance with the provisions referred to.

II. — Overtime

It is agreed that in terms of the Overtime and Night-
shift Agreement of 29th and 30th September, 1920, the
Employers have the right to decide when overtime is neces-
sary, the workpeople, or their representatives, being entitled
to bring forward under the provisions referred to any cases
of overtime they desire discussed. Meantime, the overtime
required shall be proceeded with.

15. The Memorandum was subject to ratification by the mem-
bers of the Amalgamated Engineering Union according to their
constitution, and it was duly submitted to a ballot of the Amal-
gamated Engineering Union. A copy of the ballot paper and
the letter accompanying and forming part of it was put in
evidence. It appears to set out the issues fairly and clearly. It
reminded those who were to vote that the consequences of rejec-
tion would be serious, and drew attention to the fact that 90,00(>
members of the Union were at that time unemployed, that there
was a condition of industrial stagnation, and that the Union had
been and would probably for some time be subjected to severe
financial strain. It stated that the Executive Council and
National and Divisional Organisers in conference had decided by
resolution to recommend acceptanice.

The result of the ballot was communicated to the Employers'^
Federations on 27th January, 1922, and was as follows : —
In favour of accepting the proposed

Memorandum ... ... ... ... ... 35,525

Against 50,240

The total votes cast thus numbered 85,765. The total
membership of the Union at the time was about 404,000 or
405,000. Therefore only about 21 per cent, of the members
voted ; but it was stated that the smallness of this percentage
was not uruusual in ballots taken bv the Union.



11

16. At this time, when the result of the ballot was communi-
cated to the employers, certain conferences known as Composite
Conferences on matters of local concern were pending. On 28th
January, 1922, the Union were informed that in view of the result
of the ballot these Composite Conferences could not be proceeded
with. On 13th February the Employers' Federations requested a
conference with representatives of the Amalgamated Engineering
Union. The Union made it a condition that the Composite Con-
ferences should be held. On 21st February, 1922, the Secretary
of the Employers' Federations wrote to the Amalgamated
Engineering Union as follows : —

' ' Memorandum of Conference of 17th and 18th
November, 1921.

I have to advise you that your letter of 20th February,
1922, was the subject of consideration at a meeting held
to-day.

I am desired to express regret that your Executive Council
should have thought fit to attach importance to questions
of detail rather than to a question of principle of such
magnitude as is involved in the result of the adverse ballot
vote of your members.

The Federations have resolved that as from Saturday,
11th March, 1922, it is not possible for federated employers
to give employment to the members of your Union in ^dew
of the situation created by their ballot, and instructions have
been given to federated firms to post notices in their works-
accordingly.

I am desired again to impress upon your Council the
gravity of the situation which has arisen owing to your
members having thought fit to call in question a basic
principle on which industry is conducted.

The Employers feel that in view of the fundamental altera-
tion which the ballot has brought forward there is no alterna-
tive open to them but to face the situation and in the national
interest to place the industry on a sound economic basis, and
accordingly the relations between the Employers and their
workpeople, the working conditions, and the wages will
require to be brought under review."

Lock-out Notice.

17. The notice referred to in the Employers' letter was posted
on 25th February, 1922, and was as follows : —

The Engineering and the National Employers'
Federations.

The members of the Amalgamated Engineering Union
having by ballot refused to accept the Memorandum of



12

Agreement arrived at in Conference on 17th and 18th
November, 1921, which was jointly recommended by the
Federations and by the Executive Council and the National
and Divisional Organisers of the Union for acceptance by
their constituent bodies, and which Memorandum provides
for the maintenance of the right of the Employers to exercise
managerial functions in their establishments, the Federa-
tions have resolved that as from Saturday, 11th March, 1922,
it is not possible for federated employers to give employment
to members of the Union in view of the situation created by
their ballot.

By Order,

James Beown,

Secretary.
London,

25th February, 1922.

Notice is hereby given to the members of the Amalgamated
Engineering Union in accordance wdth the foregoing
Resolution.

18. The difficulty regarding the Composite Conferences was
adjusted and the parties met in conference on 28th February, 1922,
that is between the date on which the notice was posted and
that on which it took effect, but without result ; and the stoppage
of work so far as the Amalgamated Engineering Union were con-
cerned began in accordance with the notice on 11th March, 1922.

Dispute between Employers and the Unions other than

the A.E.U.

19. On 21st February, 1922, that is the date of the letter to the
Amalgamated Engineering Union referred to in paragraph 16, the
employers, through the Secretary of their Federations, sent to


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Online Library1922 Great Britain. Court of Inquiry Concerning the EngIndustrial courts act, 1919. Report by a Court of Inquiry concerning the engineering trades dispute, 1922 .. → online text (page 1 of 3)