Mr. MaeINNIS: I shall try to be as brief
as possible, and I thank hon. members for permitting me to finish.
Under date of a communication dated December 29, 1941, Mr. Bruce advised the Minister of Labour that the workers concerned had accepted the proposals of the department. Then there is another telegram dated December 31 from the Minister of Labour thanking Mr. Bruce for his wire. In the meantime it appears that there had been consultation with the employers, and that the employers did not like the agreement made by the labour department. The next thing Mr. Bruce and Mr. Coyle learned about the matter was the passing of an order in council on January 26, while the house was in session, repudiating completely the agreement already agreed to by the Minister of Labour, and attaching a new scale of wages and bonuses to the order. Not only that, but the order in council placed the setting of wages in the hands of the Minister of Labour, without reserve.
Order in council P.C. 269, dated January 26, 1942, contains this paragraph:
2. The Minister of Labour is hereby authorized to adjust the basic wage rates for other classifications of employees of the aforesaid shipyards in such relationship to the basic wage rates specified for mechanics and in such amounts as in his opinion, having regard to all the circumstances, are fair and reasonable.
Mr. Bruce then replied in a telegram dated January 29, 1942. I draw the attention of hon. members to the similarity of this wire to the letter from Mr. Mosher which I placed on record. The wire is addressed to the Hon. Humphrey Mitchell, Minister of Labour at Ottawa, and is in these words:
On December 22 you requested vice-president Coyle and myself to come to Ottawa to discuss report of the board of conciliation in the Morton shipyards. After considerable discussion with Deputy Minister Stewart and director of industrial relations Crawford it was agreed, and a proposition submitted to us in writing on December 23, that was to be submitted to the men with rates of wages based on reports of the royal commission on shipyards and other provisions of the report of the board of conciliation would be accepted acting on your suggestion and as a war measure this proposition was submitted to the men with our endorsement and adopted and notification was conveyed to you by telegram from myself under date of December 29. I was considerably surprised to-day to receive word that Morton company had posted notices repudiating our agreement vice-president Coyle informs me that Deputy Minister Stewart has informed him that the department had repudiated the conditions we agreed upon. If this is so without any recognition of our rights or consultation with us is an outrageous and unwarranted violation of our agreement and a breach of faith by a department of government and will warrant the disapproval of the workers throughout the whole dominion and bring the government into disrespect for repudiating a written agreement thereby placing myself and Coyle in a very unsatisfactory position as the men accepted our endorsation in good faith. We would appreciate some explanation of the situation.
No explanation was given. Is the Prime Minister going to stand for that sort of thing in the Department of Labour? Does he agree with that kind of double-crossing by his ministers? If he does not, then he had better clean house in the Department of Labour.
As matters stand to-day, wages are regulated by order in council. The government which in 1940 put itself on record as favouring collective bargaining has virtually abolished collective bargaining. Order in council P.C. 8253 abolished the previous order in council P.C. 7440, which recognized collective bargaining. Under order in council P.C. 8253 a national war labour board was set up, with an elaborate system of regional boards. Before this system had properly begun to function, the government abolished-in this case at any rate-the manner of appeal for which they had made provision.
This is a matter that calls for the condemnation of every member of this house. Unless we are able to deal with the small matters at home, we should stop trying to bring a better world into being, because we cannot do it.
He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.
Subtopic: CONTINUATION OF DEBATE ON ADDRESS IN REPLY