South Yorkshire Times June 20, 1959
The Printing Dispute
As we go prematurely to press because of the printing industry dispute a break in publication of the “South Yorkshire Times” Series seems imminent, our own relationship with our employees remains a happy one, but the general situation points to a withdrawal of union labour, in which we be involved, this week-end. We regret very much the inconvenience and loss liable to be suffered by readers, advertisers and our own employees should this happen.
The dispute centres round the printing unions’ claim for a ten per cent, wage increase, a three and a half hours cut in the working week and other concessions.
Total effects of these will be to raise labour costs by 20 to 25%. The basic wage claim alone amounts to an extra 22 shillings to 25 shillings a week.
The employers cannot afford such claims but have offered a 2 ½ per cent wage increase and a one hour cut in the working week. To keep production cost competitive they have also asked union leaders to co-operate in removing wasteful restrictive practices and generally increasing efficiency. The unions have rejcted these offers, only conceding the spreading of their full demands over two years. They will only discuss efficiency after their claims have been settled. They have declined to use the conciliation machinery within the industry and have re-fused to allow the dispute to be submitted to arbitration, a solution to which the employers would agree.
In the face of an overtime ban and (in some instances) a policy of non-co-operation many firms gave notice to re-engage their employees on a day-to-day basis. In refusing the employment still open to them the unions have intimated that their members would be withdrawn in reply to this step. In an industry which has for years enjoyed good industrial relationships it is a thousand pities that a stoppage should arise when arbitration could he used to resolve differences. Strikes are always followed by settlements. In nine cases out of ten (and this is one) they could just as well be settled before as after, by arbitration if not by negotiation.