August 21, 1946

?

An hon. MEMBER:

No.

Industrial Relations

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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LIB

James Horace King (Speaker of the Senate)

Liberal

Mr. SPEAKER:

The hon. member has not unanimous consent.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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IND

Herbert Wilfred Herridge

Independent C.C.F.

Mr. H. W. HERRIDGE (Kootenay West):

I have listened with a great deal of interest to the debate, this afternoon. Many things have been said with which I can agree. Some things have been said which I had intended to say, but I shall not take up the time of the house to repeat what has already been mentioned in the debate. I think I can safely say that the country as a whole, and labour, will be disappointed with this report. The country as a whole was expecting that the report would deal with some definite solution, particularly of the steel strike. I am sure that labour in the country will be dissatisfied with the ambiguous language and general terms of the report. In that connection I wish to read a section of the statement of the wage coordinating committee of the Canadian Congress of Labour on this matter. Referring to the report of the committee on industrial relations, the Canadian Congress of Labour wage committee said:

Not only has the house committee failed to do anything to settle current strikes but it has for a period of four weeks created the illusion and the impression in the minds of the public, management and workers that the members of the house committee were going to settle the strikes.

I think that is a correct statement, Mr. Speaker, and I believe you will find it to be the general attitude of labour throughout the country.

Before proceeding very briefly to deal with some sections of this report, I wish to say that some hon. members have expressed the opinion that strikes in Canada are largely due to communist activity. Several hon. members of the Progressive Conservative party have made that statement. I believe these hon. gentlemen completely misunderstand the fundamental reasons for the discontent which exists among the great masses of the Canadian people. In the first place, I would say the reason for this discontent is that we have fought a bitter and difficult war, during which the people were told they should look forward to a period of peace which would inaugurate a new social order. The people of this country are expecting that new social order. Then I would say the second reason for the mass discontent which exists to-day is the desire for economic security, the desire to maintain and improve the standard of living. When hon. members blame communist activity for the discontent that is in the country I think they entirely misjudge the situation. I am a farmer. It may seem strange that two farmers in succession should speak on a labour question. I have had experience with labour

organizations only during the last five or six years, but in my experience I have found that the great mass of the people are reasonable, willing to compromise, ready in many cases to accept less than they should. But I am quite sure that at the present time there are large numbers of Canadian workers who are thoroughly dissatisfied and who have solid reasons for being dissatisfied.

Before dealing with one or two sections of the report, I wish to say that I was disappointed because the report did not contain some concrete recommendation in regard to settling this steel strike. In this respect I agree with the hon. member for Cape Breton South (Mr. Gillis), the hon. member for Rose-town-Biggar (Mr. Coldwell) and others who have spoken to the effect that the committee should have recommended the last proposals of the steel workers, which I think were very fair and realistic proposals, which were advanced with full knowledge of the situation, and which were modifications of the original proposals. I believe the committee should have recommended those proposals first to the controller, then to Mr. Brockington as the person who was to negotiate between the employers and the union, and, if that failed, I believe the committee should have recommended those proposals in its report to this house.

I am not going to go through the report, but I do want to deal with one or two sections. First, I should like to refer to section 3, which reads:

Your committee recommends that a measure of union security should follow certification.

I think that is an unsatisfactory and ambiguous statement. As a matter of fact it means little. I think-and in this respect I agree with the hon. member for Spadina (Mr. Croll)-that following the experience of the last few months with the Rand formula as it is operating in the Ford plant, the committee would have been well advised to recommend the Rand formula in this report. If only that concrete proposal had been contained in the report this committee would have recommended to parliament something worth while.

The other section with which I wish to deal briefly is section 6, which reads:

Your committee recommends that the Minister of Labour may, at the request of either party to an industrial dispute, and if he deems fit, either before or after a strike is in progress, direct that a strike vote be taken under government supervision, to determine the wishes of the men affected as to whether a strike will take place or otherwise.

I want to express my hearty disapproval of that section. On casual reading it does not sound very serious or dangerous, but it con-

51S6

Industrial Relations

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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LIB

Humphrey Mitchell (Minister of Labour)

Liberal

Mr. MITCHELL:

I do not understand what my hon. friend means.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

I shall make myself

clearer in a moment, and shall explain more fully what I have in mind. It may be said in fairness that the minister has certainly a tough assignment on his hands. I have known him a long time and I am convinced of his sincerity. But through him the government has reaped and is reaping severe criticism. The statement is often made on the street that the whole situation has got out of hand. Perhaps we may better judge the truth of that statement after the minister has reviewed what he has attempted to do; perhaps he can vindicate his position. I shall be interested to hear what he has to say in that connection.

I do not intend to deal with the several sections of the report, because that would be repetitious. It has been referred to by other hon. members who have spoken. Not only because I sat on the committee, but because of my contacts for a long time, I am convinced that the formation of labour groups, with collective bargaining, is the right of labour, so long as they do not attempt to take the law into their own hands. I believe that is conceded.

It is also apparent to all that price and wage coordination is a necessity. This is recognized by most people who are interested in the present difficulties. I believe, too, it is

an established fact that practically all labour groups attempt to be fair in their demands. At least that has been my experience respecting those with which I have come in contact. I think that was borne out largely in the deliberations of the industrial relations committee. Likewise I must say from experience that I believe it is becoming more generally conceded week after week that most employers have the interests of their employees at heart and are learning to get closer to them. That is gratifying to me. I believe many others hold the same opinion. There are those of extreme views on both sides who may not agree with what I have said, but by and large that will be found to be the general opinion.

If the industrial relations committee has done nothing else it has focused attention on the methods which have been employed recently, largely by certain individuals, to stifle production. That may be a strong statement but I fear it is true. An early meeting of federal and provincial labour heads is urgently needed. The minister has indicated to the committee that he proposes at an early day to try to bring that into effect.

I am convinced that a national labour code in Canada is essential. If there be objections to it, I think it is about time that those objections should be aired, and let us find out what they are, and if there is some remedy which can be applied. The public must be informed on this issue also, so that we may try to coordinate the interests of labour and management across this country in an endeavour to find a pattern to avoid disputes of this kind.

I now turn more particularly to the present situation at Hamilton. I am in agreement with the hon. member for Rosetown-Biggar that there is a situation obtaining there which must be rectified. Either the controller is being what is commonly called "hamstrung" by somebody to whom he is answerable, or he is certainly not rising to the occasion and meeting his responsibilities. As the hon. member has said, if that is the case, and no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming, it is about time that a change was made there. The minister should make the position in that respect very clear. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why certain labour heads, in appearing before the committee, impressed upon us that they have a lost faith in the present government and the policies it has followed, more particularly in recent months.

Much has been said about the secret ballot. I have taken the trouble to discuss this with, not one or two, but dozens of men whom I consider to be the most sane and capable

Industrial Relations

members of unions, men who have worked for industrial institutions as long as twenty years and more. I have gained much knowledge from those men; they have often discussed this matter with me. Let me say here to some of the labour heads that there is much criticism among their own ranks of the way the so-called secret ballot is conducted. Some of the best union men go so far as to charge that there has been manipulation in many cases when a strike vote is called or about to be called. That is an important point, and it has a considerable bearing on the conclusions which I have reached in the present issue. I suggest that, if labour heads desire to retain public confidence, coercion of their members will never promote their cause.

Much has been said about the influence of communism in certain labour groups. Let me say to all right-thinking members of any labour union or any other group that the type of individual whom they entrust with their leadership will in large measure gain or destroy public confidence. Of that I am convinced. If public confidence is once destroyed the cause of labour can never regain proper recognition. There is an old adage that anyone can lead a horse to water but nobody can make him drink. That adage applies in the present situation to both management and labour.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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LIB

Ian Alistair Mackenzie (Minister of Veterans Affairs; Leader of the Government in the House of Commons; Liberal Party House Leader)

Liberal

Mr. MACKENZIE:

Would my hon. friend permit me, with great regret, to interrupt him? Is he going to finish before five minutes to seven, or would he like to adjourn the debate, because there is some other business which is important.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
Permalink
PC

Norman James Macdonald Lockhart

Progressive Conservative

Mr. LOCKHART:

I can hardly finish in that time.

As I said, the influence of communism is being felt in many places. Where there is attempted coercion there is an apparent danger; to try to force either management or labour to do something which they feel they cannot do is merely provocative. I was deeply impressed by some of the remarks of the labour heads who appeared before the committee. In most of their presentations I found a great deal with which I could agree. I want, however, to refer particularly to a few things that I find I cannot agree with and with respect to which I still await answers to questions which I asked in committee. I am still at a loss to understand why there is so much insistence that the three steel plants now on strike must be considered as one unit. I am unable to find any explanation of that. I think the Minister of Reconstruction and Supply (Mr. Howe) covered the point and I shall not repeat what he said in that connection, but I am largely in agreement with

what he said on that subject. I am still convinced that much confusion and, I think, some damage have been caused by the insistence of labour that the three steel companies be considered as one unit because the interests of these companies are so diversified, their sources of raw material are so different and their costs of operation vary widely. I think those charged with the responsibility of calling the strike should reconsider that point.

I am also at a loss to understand why so many labour groups contend that every time there is a rise of one or two points in the cost of living there must be a corresponding increase in wages. It is my opinion-and I think this is borne out by what many others have said-that production will be the controlling factor or at least have very much to do with the cost of living in this country. I am optimistic enough to believe that if our production can be brought to the highest possible peak our worries about the cost of living will not be so apparent. So I ask the labour groups why it is that they are so insistent upon wage increases when, if production is only allowed to reach its peak in Canada, it will have a great deal to do with the cost of living in this country. If labour gets a five-cent increase every time there is a five-point rise in the cost of living, will labour be ready to take a corresponding decrease in wages in a business recession?

Talk to the man on the street, men earning their living in many different vocations, and you will find that they are puzzled over the insistence of labour on this point-for-point increase, an increase in wages always to accompany an increase in the cost of living, because the clerk in a store and the average wage-earner receives no such consideration. I think there should be a little more give and take amongst labour in that respect. I pointed that out in the committee and I still believe I am right.

I am also at a loss to understand why the 40-hour week was ever injected into this dispute at this time. In my opinion that demand was ill conceived. It was only last January that an attempt was made by law in the province of Ontario to regulate the hours of labour and bring about more uniformity by adopting the 48-hour wreek. But the ink was hardly dry on that law before certain labour groups across this country were demanding a 40-hour week. That is not reasonable. We must try out these changes. I say to labour groups that I think their demand for the 40-hour week was ill conceived. I may be wrong and I am open to be convinced, but that is my opinion.

Questions

Let me say to employers that they must observe the 48-hour week which is now the law in Ontario. They must give it a trial so that labour may get the benefit of it.

On motion of Mr. Lockhart, the debate was adjourned.

Topic:   INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS
Subtopic:   CONSIDERATION OF SECOND REPORT OF STANDING COMMITTEE-MOTION FOR CONCURRENCE
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RADIO BROADCASTING ACT

CORPORATION TO RECEIVE LICENCE FEES-ADVANCES ON ACCOUNT OF CAPITAL EXPENDITURES


Hon. IAN A. MACKENZIE (for the Minister of National Revenue) moved that the house go into committee to consider the following resolution: That it is expedient to present a bill to amend the Canadian Broadcasting Act, 1936, to provide (a) that the chairman shall be eligible to become a contributor and entitled to benefits under any established pension fund of the corporation; (b) for the tenure of office and reappointment of the general manager; (c) for deposit to the credit of the corporation all fees received from private receiving licences and private station broadcasting licences, without deduction of costs of collection and administration, and (d) authority to advance to the corporation sums up to two million dollars during the present fiscal year and such sums in subsequent years as may be authorized by parliament from time to time on account of capital expenditures. Motion agreed to and the house went into committee, Mr. Macdonald (Brantford City) in the chair. Resolution reported, read the second time and concurred in. Mr. Mackenzie thereupon moved for leave to introduce bill No. 391, to amend the Canadian Broadcasting Act, 1936. Motion agreed to and bill read the first time. On motion of Mr. Mackenzie the house adjourned at seven p.m. Thursday, August 22, 1946


August 21, 1946