Hon. HUMPHREY MITCHELL (Minister of Labour):
Mr. Speaker, I desire to bring hon. members up to date on developments in the strike affecting the Ford Motor Company of Canada plant at Windsor.
Since reporting to the house on Tuesday of this week, I had a conference in my office with representatives of the Canadian Congress of Labour and the United Automobile Workers of America. At that meeting I was pleased to discern a more conciliatory attitude on. the part of the union representatives, and it resulted in the union representatives agreeing to recommend to its members a change of
Ford Motor Plant Strike
policy with respect to the provision of power house services and access to the company's offices.
The union delegation left immediately for Windsor and placed their proposals before the membership.
Early this morning I received a telegram from the union conveying the text of a telegram sent by the union to the company, which reads as follows:
At a well attended meeting of the membership of local 200 UAW-CIO held in the city market building 3 p.m. Thursday November 15th, the following action was decided upon by a substantial majority of the membership present: (1) that employees whose normal function is the operation of the power plant of the Ford Motor Company of Canada are free to resume their regular duties; (2) that the union has no objection to the accredited executive officers of the Ford Motor Company and their personal secretaries from having free ingress to and egress from the plant premises. The union believes that the aforesaid action constitutes a demonstration of good faith that should be of help in assisting to reopen negotiations for a collective agreement with your company. We are therefore requesting on behalf of our union that negotiations be reopened forthwith and to the end that a mutually satisfactory contract be consummated between your company and our organization. Trusting you for your favourable consideration and hoping for an early reply, a letter confirming this wire is being forwarded.
Upon receipt of this, I sent a telegram, to Mr. D. B. Greig, treasurer of the Ford Motor Company of Canada, which reads as follows:
Have just received from Mr. George Burt, Director of Region No. 7, U.A.W.-C.I.O., the text of the communication addressed to you by him conveying the decision of membership local 200 U.A.W.-C.I.O., to man the power house of the company and relax picketing, so that company officials would have access to their offices; also requesting a- conference with company management with a view to the negotiation of a mutually satisfactory contract. I desire to urge upon you and your associates favourable consideration of the union's request in order that way may be opened to a full resumption of company operations at the earliest possible date.
Just before noon a teletype message was received from Mr. Greig addressed to myself and to the Hon. Leslie Blackwell, Attorney General of Ontario, repeating the text of a communication addressed to the union which is as follows:
' Receipt is acknowledged at approximately 1 a.m. this morning of your telegram to Mr. W. FI. Clark, personnel manager of this company.
The company has considered your commuui-oation and is prepared to negotiate with union representatives upon the following conditions;
1. The union, before negotiation proceedings open, to discontinue all picketing of the company's premises, and at once to cooperate with the company in putting power house back in permanent operation.
2. The company, as quickly as possible, to prepare its plant for resumption of work.
3. The company to return its employees to work as quickly as possible and without discrimination.
4. The company and union, before negotiation proceedings open, to agree upon a reasonable limit of time during which negotiations shall take place; the company suggests ten days.
5. The company and the union to submit points remaining in dispute between them concerning a new collective bargaining agreement to an arbitrator to be appointed by the Minister of Labour for Canada from among the judges of the Supreme Court of Ontario whose decisions upon the points in dispute and with respect to the wording in any particular of the agreement to be negotiated to be final and binding; save that all matter over which the regional war labour board for Ontario or the national war labour board has jurisdiction shall not be decided by or before said arbitrator.
C. Pending the conclusion of the new agreement to be negotiated as -above provided, the collective bargaining arrangements pertaining to the company's Windsor plants to be the same as those in effect on September 12, 1945.
In agreeing to negotiate with the union under the conditions set forth above, Ford Motor Company of Canada, Limited, emphasizes that its action is motivated by a desire to remove the possibility of bloodshed inherent in the prolonged strike situation; by the need for again making jobs and wages available to' Ford workers, and by the necessity for providing new cars and trucks for home and export markets.
Last Friday and again last Tuesday, the company through Hon. Humphrey Mitchell, Minister of Labour for Canada, offered to submit all issues between the parties to arbitration. The company suggested arbitration instead of direct negotiation with the union because negotiations with the union had been proceeding for seventeen months prior to the calling of the strike on September 12 last. The issues debated during" those seventeen months are the issues to-day. The long-drawn period of fruitless negotiation between company and union has proven that the views of the two parties upon some points have been irreconcilable. In these circumstances, the company has adopted the realistic view that upon some issues negotiation is unlikely to succeed. For that reason, the company has suggested arbitration. Because seventeen months of debate ended in failure to agree, the company now suggests that the two parties should accept a time limit for negotiation prior to arbitration.
With a sincere desire to provide jobs and wages once more for its employees, and to resume work on civilian production, the company has, for the second time within a week, changed the policy it has formerly felt obliged to adopt toward strike mediation proposals.
, On October 27 the company, like the union, rejected an arbitration proposal.
I would like to say, Mr. Speaker, that the arbitration proposal was my suggestion.
Last Friday the company conceded arbitration; in doing so it sacrificed the principle that an employer should not be expected suffer anyone outside of his business dictating the terms upon which he shall deal with his own employees. Now the company concedes negotiation with the union as a preliminary to
Ford Motor Plant Strike
arbitration, feeling that negotiation unassisted by arbitration cannot lead to a complete agreement.
The company still believes that immediate arbitration is the short-cut to achieving a new collective bargaining agreement; still believes that negotiation prior to the invitable arbitration will only consume precious time; still believes that, whle the new agreement is being written through negotiation and arbitration, Ford workers should not be deprived of their jobs and wages.
We sincerely trust that upon consideration of the above the union will share with the company the feeling that the entire situation is capable of speedy and satisfactory solution and that we may receive from you an early approval of the basis outlined.
It will be noted from the above that the company is not of the opinion that collective bargaining negotiations will be productive of any satisfactory result, and consequently, it repeats its previous offer to refer all matters in dispute to arbitration under a justice of the Supreme Court of Ontario appointed by myself. The only difference in the present offer of the company and that conveyed to me in Windsor last Friday is that collective bargaining negotiations over a period of ten days will be entered into after all employees return to work.
It is my opinion that the suggestions made by the men's organization are fair and reasonable and offer the basis of a settlement, and I would urge the company and the men's representatives to get together at the earliest possible moment in order that work may be resumed. In saying this, I feel sure that I am voicing the views of every member of this House of Commons.
The basis of our way of life is reason and the ability to give and take, leading to sound contractional relations. Both company and union have shown evidence of this during the past few days and for the sake of the city of Windsor and industrial peace generally, they should close the gap between them at once.
I would like to think that the company and the union are about to shake hands, but they have not reached out yet.
Subtopic: STRIKE AT FORD MOTOR PLANT, WINDSOR