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Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Paper Mills Dispute.

Wednesday, 15 June 1966

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 223 No. 4

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21.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce if he is aware of a report that there are fears that two of the nation's three paper mills may go out of production permanently; and what steps he intends to take in the matter, bearing in mind the effect on employment and the economy if these mills were to shut down.

22.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne asked the Minister for Industry and Commerce the present position in relation to the paper mills dispute.

Minister for Industry and Commerce (Dr. Hillery): Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery With your permission, a Cheann Comhairle, I propose to take Questions Nos. 21 and 22 together.

Discussions, involving the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the employers, the workers and the conciliation service of the Labour Court, have been in progress over the past few days and I am hopeful that they will lead to a settlement of this dispute.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I, too, am hopeful of a settlement but that is not the answer to my question. I asked was it stated by the employers that if the workers would not accept conditions laid down by them, they would close a national industry. Is the Minister aware of that?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery I am not aware of any such statement.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne Assuming I produce proof of it, what will the Minister do about it? Nothing?

Mr. Coughlan: Information on Stephen Coughlan Zoom on Stephen Coughlan No prompting.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne We all wish to see this settled.

[534]Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery I assume the Deputy means the dispute is causing a situation which may lead to unemployment? At the moment discussions are in progress under the machinery available.

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne The employers have said: “Unless you accept our conditions, there will be no paper made in this country any more.”

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery As the Deputy is aware, there was some difficulty about the mechanics of putting down this question which made it appear unexpectedly on the Order Paper today. If he wants a full assessment of the possibilities of survival of a mill and the effect of this dispute on it, I would be prepared to give him that if he puts down another question. If the Deputy is looking for information as distinct from information regarding the discussions——

Mr. Kyne: Information on Thomas Anthony Kyne Zoom on Thomas Anthony Kyne I am not looking for information about the discussions; I am concerned for the future of the industry.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery If the Deputy gives me advance notice of the question, I will get a full account for him in regard to the possible effects of the dispute.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne In view of the fact that this dispute directly affects some 1,500 workers in three mills, two in Dublin and one in Waterford, and in view of the fact that its ramifications can be said to be endless, will the Minister keep a close eye on the situation so that the negotiations which are now under way will continue? Will he do whatever he can, if the opportunity presents itself, to push the negotiations to a satisfactory conclusion?

Mr. Corish: Information on Brendan Corish Zoom on Brendan Corish The Minister is aware of the repercussions of this dispute on allied industries and would he be prepared to investigate the allegation or inference that there has been a threat by the employers that if a certain award is not accepted, the paper mills will be closed down? There is a suggestion, and the Minister will know more about that than [535] I do, that at least one of these factories has been assisted to some considerable extent by way of grants or loans, or both.

Mr. Clinton: Information on Mark A. Clinton Zoom on Mark A. Clinton Are discussions taking place today?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery There are discussions in progress and the Deputy will appreciate my reluctance to discuss——

Mr. James Tully: Information on James Tully Zoom on James Tully Oh, the Government would never interfere while discussions are taking place between workers and employers. We know that from last week.

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery I do not think the Parties would like any interference with the progress of free negotiations when they are taking place. Deputy Kyne could table his question next week.

Mr. Treacy: Information on Seán Treacy Zoom on Seán Treacy Could the Minister say what are the controlling interests in this particular company in so far as it is alleged to be a semi-State company, as many shareholders are absentees completely divorced from the dispute?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery I was not aware of the allegation that this was a semi-State company.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne I want to remind the Minister that I asked him if he would keep a close eye on the situation because of its seriousness. Will he keep in mind all the time the responsibility which naturally devolves upon him to push wherever the opportunity presents itself for a solution which will be satisfactory to the employees, who, after all, are the main consideration in this industry?

Dr. Hillery: Information on Patrick John Hillery Zoom on Patrick John Hillery The Deputy will be aware that free negotiations may solve this dispute and intervention by the State may not be welcomed.

Mr. S. Dunne: Information on Seán Dunne Zoom on Seán Dunne At this stage, I agree.


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