HL Deb 13 May 1980 vol 409 cc97-8

2.40 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.


My Lords, strikes represent a waste of resources that should have gone into production and are of overall benefit, therefore, to the living standards and job security of overseas rather than our own employees. They are futile in that most strikers do not recover their lost wages even if they achieve a sizable pay increase. The Government are taking every opportunity to make this known and there are indications that the message is coming to be increasingly understood.


My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister of State for Employment for his Answer, but may I draw his attention to one fact which is illustrative of my Question? Would he concede that in the case of Fords, the year 1979 saw them virtually free of strikes and industrial unrest—an important factor in the all-time record pre-tax profit of that firm for the year 1979? Does not this underline the desirability of avoiding strike action on all occasions except as a very last resort? Perhaps this example might be brought to the attention of those trade union leaders who have responsibility for trade union matters.

The Earl of GOWRIE

My Lords, I should have thought that most people working in or anywhere near a Ford's factory would be well aware that the dramatic decline in the number of days output lost through strike action at Ford last year and the consequent improvement in continuity of production made a significant contribution to overall performance and also to the wealth of the districts involved. I am delighted to underline that point to which my noble friend has drawn attention.


My Lords, is the Minister aware that labour relations are much better in Ford than they are in Leyland? Does he not think that he ought to address his remarks to the people who control Leyland, and let us have better labour relations with the trade unions?

The Earl of GOWRIE

My Lords, I am entirely in favour of improved labour relations, wherever they should take place. I think that there are some encouraging signs in Leyland as well.