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Industrial Councils

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INDUSTRIAL COUNCILS. In the principal British in dustries working conditions in the widest sense—including wages, hours of labour and terms of employment generally—are normally settled or adjusted by some form of direct negotiation between employers organised in associations and workpeople organised in trade unions. As between these organisations there has been built up, in many industries, more especially those engaged in the export trade, stable and definite machinery for discussion often comprising elaborate local and national arrangements for con ciliation and for arbitration in the last resort. Thus the half cen tury prior to the World War witnessed, side by side with the growth of representative associations formed for contest, the joint development by these organisations of conciliation or arbi tration machinery for avoiding disputes or settling them if they arose. A Royal Commission appointed in 1891 drew attention to the existence and spread of these voluntary conciliation boards and urged their extension and encouragement. In 191 i an attempt was made by the State to strengthen the machinery of conciliation by the establishment of an Industrial Council of a national char acter, comprised of 13 representatives of employers and a corre sponding number of workpeople and presided over by a nominated independent chairman, "for the purpose of considering and en quiring into matters referred to them affecting trade disputes, and especially of taking suitable action in regard to any dispute re ferred to them affecting the principal trades of the country as likely to cause disagreement involving ancillary trades, if the parties before or after the breaking out of a dispute are them selves unable to settle." The Industrial Council of 1911 func tioned for a time, but in the special circumstances created by the war it fell into abeyance. Since the war the extensive voluntary machinery for direct discussion between organised employers and workpeople has been supplemented by the creation of Joint In dustrial Councils formed in accordance with the recommendations of the Whitley committee of 1917.

See

also the articles INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, ARBITRATION and STRIKES AND LOCKOUTS. (J. H.)

machinery, workpeople and organised