MEMORANDUM OF INTERVIEW.
7th February, 1940.
Time 11 a.m. to
Present Messrs. A. de Gondra, M. Arenaza, H.V. Tewson (Assistant Secretary), A.E. Carthy (International Dept).
Mr. Tewson said that the original funds which were raised for the maintenance of the seamen had long since been exhausted, and he was, therefore, specially interested in any proposal made for giving these men employment. Mr. Arenaza's scheme had been the subject of careful consideration, and a point which had arisen was where they thought it was possible, to get a selection of men similar to that in his lists by taking the whole of the men from one port.
Another question raising in this connection, namely that the cost of accommodation varied from port to port, and it would be an advantage, where choice existed, for the men to be taken from a port where their accommodation was a heavier charge on the fund. It was agreed to begin with the transfer of say a dozen men to London, and to the future transfer other men (as members of the original group secured employment) to keep a "pool" of this number in London, the experience gained in placing to be the guide for the selection of trades.
The question of fares was difficult, because from certain centres they would constitute a large item of expenditure. Perhaps this could be advanced either by ourselves or by the Basque Delegation.
Mr. A. de Gondra, said that Mr. Arenaza himself was possibly leaving on the boat for New York shortly, and would be able to take with him a crew of 30 men. In that case another Captain, Antonio Bilbao, a reliable man would take his place in London. He would make enquiries about payment of fares.
Further discussion then ensued, after which, on Mr. Tewson's proposal, it was decided to bring to London up to a dozen men by clearing Liverpool and Barry, and by drawing as far as possible from Grimsby. It was also agreed to explore the possibilities of arranging for the port of signing in the articles to be signed by the men to be the port of origin in the U.K. (Liverpool, Barry, Grimsby, etc), and not London, to avoid storing up a great problem for London in the future.
Mr. A. de Gondra offered to write to his contact men that the T.U.C. was very concerned about the state of the fund, and that it had made a request that as many people as possible should be found employment at an early date. i In many centres there was no early prospect of employment being found on land. He thought that this might have the effect in encouraging some of the men who had grown rather slack in taking up employment at sea.
Mr. Tewson said that what had been decided appeared to be a good beginning, and as the work progressed it might be necessary to consider at a later stage concentrating the remaining seamen at fewer centres.
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