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LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL
AUGUST 25, 1938. To the Secretary of Labor:
We have the honor to send you herewith our report on industrial relations in Great Britain, in accordance with the letter of the President of June 16, 1938.
The appendix containing the discussion of the statutory law is made a part of the report.
In accordance with the letter of the President of June 22, 1938, the report on Sweden will follow shortly.
(Signed) W. ELLISON CHALMERS.
WILLIAM H. DAVIS,
Report of the Commission on Industrial
Relations in Great Britain
[Footnotes will be found at end of report] The President's instructions in his letter of June 16, 1938, to the members of the Commission were as follows:
In view of the many comments that have come to my attention relative to industrial relations in Great Britain, I feel that there is a definite need for an impartial report which will adequately portray the real situation that prevails in British industry. I trust that, through conferring with Government officials, industrial leaders, and labor officials, you will be in a position to report to the Secretary of Labor not only on the exact status of laboremployer relations in England, but also on the evolution of the established procedures that account for the current state of industrial relations in that country.
I. THE COMMISSION'S STUDIES IN GREAT BRITAIN
1. In Great Britain employers in the major industries are generally members of industry-wide associations, which negotiate collective agreement with labor unions, or with groups or associations of unions.
2. The Commission held conferences with officials of the employers' associations and of the principal unions or associations of unions in the following industries: Engineering (which in Great Britain includes manufacturers of machinery products, such as automobiles, electrical apparatus and appliances, aircraft, radios, machine tools and so forth), iron and steel, pottery, newspaper publishing, boots and shoes, coal mining, shipping, cotton textiles, printing, some distributive trades, and transportation. The Commission also conferred with officials of the National Confederation of Employers Organizations (which deals with the broader aspects of labor relations and labor policies only) and with officials of the Trades Union Congress and the Scottish Trades Union Congress, which are general confederations of unions; as well as with officials of the Transport and General Workers Union, the National Union of General and Municipal Workers and the National Union of Distributive and Allied Workers, and with a number of individual employers in different industries, including some who have no union agreement.
3. As the report will show, a number of trade boards, composed of representatives of employers, workers, and the public, have been created under the Trade Board Acts with the power and duty of fixing minimum wages, determining normal working hours, and fixing overtime rates in trades where the wage standards are low and where organization of employers and workers is ineffectual. The Commission met with representatives expressing the point of
view of employers and workers toward the trade boards, and attended a session of one of these boards. A session of the Industrial Court, which adjudicates controversies submitted to it by the parties, was similarly attended.
4. Much documentary material was supplied to the Commission by representatives of employers' associations and trade-unions and by the Ministry of Labor.
5. The salient features of the situation that now prevail in British industry, as set forth in this report, are easily discernible. In their broader outlines they were pictured for us without substantial variation by the Ministry of Labor, by the officials of the National Confederation of Employers Organizations, and of the Trades Union Congress, and by the responsible officials of the 10 employer associations and the labor unions in the industries listed above. Our conferences with these people left no room for doubt about the existence or the nature of these salient features of employer-worker relations in Great Britain. As to their social effects, we endeavored to check the views of the persons directly engaged in them by conference with individuals less directly concerned but conversant from various points of view with current affairs; including students of government and law, publicists, prominent economists, leaders of the Labor Party, and several representatives of the dominant political party and of the left wing in politics and in labor unions. We know that laboremployer relations have ramifications as wide as society itself, and we are not unconscious of the fact that, by the very nature of the methods available to us, it was not possible to unearth, or to make any adequate cross-sectional test of, the reaction of the rank and file of workers or of the average citizen to these dominant factors in employer-worker relations. On the other hand, our investigation, within its practictable scope, has not lacked the virtue of self-criticism; nine times repeated from our different points of view.
6. As to the evolution of the established procedures in British employer-worker relations, that is a matter of historical research for which we have had to depend upon currently available studies (which are considerable in number, and authoritative in character), plus such confirmation as has come to us from the personal knowledge of those with whom we have conferred and from the factual evidence of documents such as constitutions of unions and confederations of unions and of employers associations, printed copies of collective agreements, Royal Commission reports and so on.
7. Throughout our investigations we received most helpful cooperation from the officials of the Ministry of Labor. They responded promptly and generously to every call we made upon them for information, statistical and otherwise. We take this opportunity to express to them our appreciation; and at the same time to add that we met with like generous and helpful cooperation from all of the officials of employers' associations and of unions, as well as the individual citizens, with whom we came in contact; and we here express also our appreciation of their assistance and courtesy.