§ 23. Mr. Edelman
asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies what discussions he has had with the Rubber Growers' Association in connection with proposals made in the Federation of Malaya to reduce the wages of plantation workers.
§ Mr. Hopkinson
None, Sir. This is a a matter for local negotiation between employers and workers' organisations. The existing agreement in the industry provides for fresh wage negotiations if the average price of rubber over the past quarter falls below one Malayan dollar per lb.
§ Mr. Edelman
Should not the right hon. Gentleman interest himself in the proposal to reduce wages for 300,000 workers in Malaya, who received only negligible increases during the periods of boom profits and prices? Should he not take some interest in the matter, in view 1348 of the dangerous political consequences which are likely to flow and to affect still further the wages of these workers?
Has the attention of my right hon. Friend been called to a statement in a newspaper that rubber workers in Malaya have been told that their wages are going to be cut?
§ Mr. J. Griffiths
Are the Government giving attention to the very serious consequences that will ensue in Malaya in existing circumstances, if the price of rubber continues to fall and small planters go out of existence as planters, because the economic life of the country will be disintegrated? Are urgent representations being made by him and his right hon. Friend to the Government of Malaya to take early steps to prevent that serious situation arising?
§ Mr. Hopkinson
We are very concerned over the whole question of the fall in the price of rubber, and we are going into the matter with very great care.