MEMORANDUM OF INTERVIEW.
Date 12th March, 1940. Reference AC/DT/720.
Time 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Present Senores J. Lizaso, A. de Gondra, Mr. H.V. Tewson (Ass. Sec), A.E.Carthy (Int. Dept).
Mr. Tewson said that he had asked Señores Lizaso and de Gondra to come along because it had come to our notice that there was a reluctance on the part of certain of the Spanish seamen to accept employment at sea. In a case which had just come to his notice, a man had signed articles as Chief Engineer on a neutral boat at £85 a month. He did not know the tonnage of the boat but he compared this with the British rates for this class of officer, varying from £23.15.0d. (plus £5 war risk bonus) per month to £30.5.0d, (plus £5 war bonus) per month. The latter was for very big passenger liners of 12,000 tons and over. He went on to say that the man in question had actually refused work at £60 per month. Of the £85 which he was to receive, he was allotting £75 per month to his sister, whom, with himself and his daughter, we had been maintaining at Sunderland, he did not want to dictate rules to the men, but it did appear that, if jobs of this kind were common, there should be some co-operative effort on the part of the men to help the Fund with its problem.
He had been compelled to write to the Trades Council dealing with the men at West Hartlepool about 7 cases of refusing to take employment. It was difficult for the T.U.C. because of the difference in nationality, to press home to the men their responsibility to make themselves independent of the fund, and be asked whether the Basque Delegation could assist.
Mr. De Gondra said that the men had now come to disregard circular letters sent out by the Delegation, because that body was not paying the cost of maintenance. They realised that assistance might come to an end, but were confident the end would not come soon. He suggested that letters might be sent by the T.U.C. and the Delegation, timed to arrive simultaneously, to announce the early end of assistance. Then it could be suggested to the officers and captains that they should ship as ordinary sailors, for which they would get from £60 to £70 a month.
Mr. Tewson pointed out that the British organisation catering for officers recalled that in the slump British officers had put their pride in their pockets and shipped before the mast. Ha added that the T.U.C. was now taking up the question of the employment of Spanish officers on British boats. They were not "enemy aliens" but were not classed as "friendly aliens". There were three Government Departments concerned, and steps had been taken to clarify the position. Employment would not be available on boats accompanying Admiralty craft.
He wanted to strengthen the Delegation's hands, in view of what Mr. de Gondra had said.
Mr. Lizaso recalled the approaches which were made for the emigration of the men, affirmed that funds were available in several Spanish committees which could be called