TRADES UNION CONGRESS, CONGRESS HOUSE, GREAT RUSSELL STREET, LONDON, WC1B 3LS
FROM THE TUC FOR THE PRESS
GENERAL SECRETARY: LIONEL MURRAY OBE PRESS OFFICER: BRIAN MURPHY
TELEPHONE: 01-636 4030 RELEASED FOR PUBLICATION
January 17 1979 IMMEDIATELY
Statement by Mr Lionel Murray, General Secretary of the TUC, on the current industrial situation:
"It should be very clear to all of us - workers, management, Government and Opposition - that the present serious disturbances in industry underline the fact that better living standards, more jobs and continuity of production can only be guaranteed by co-operation, and through thorough and realistic negotiations. It is clear that the absence of a general understanding at the present time between the TUC and Government is a significant limitation on the ability of the trade union Movement concertedly to act in a coherent way.
"So I welcome the Prime Minister's affirmation that the present industrial difficulties, great as they are, will not deflect the Government from working with the TUC to overcome the nation's deep-rooted problems. It is a great pity that, despite all the experience of recent years, the fundamental necessity of this does not appear to be understood by the Conservative Party. We are already in discussions with Ministers, and top of the agenda are prices, jobs and output.
"I also welcome the Government's acknowledgement that everybody who can help should be working hard - as are the unions - to get the current disputes settled quickly, and future conflicts avoided, by negotiations. That is going to require more flexibility all round, including more from the Government.
"But it seems clear from yesterday's debate that many Conservative MP's have learned nothing from the last ten years. Brushing aside with contempt the co-operation and sacrifices of trade unionists in recent years, they are again threatening punitive and divisive legislation which has a track record of failure. But our ability to defend basic trade union rights could itself be threatened by the actions of a small minority of strikers who are ignoring the advice and instructions of their unions. Those who flout the obligations of trade union membership are in danger of dividing the Movement, and of weakening us against those who are attacking us all.
"The way of discussion, negotiation and co-operation is no easy or soft option, but it is the way we must go."