§ MR. E. KNATCHBULL - HUGESSEN (Rochester)
I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether the writers of the Expense Account Department in Chatham Dockyard have been continuously employed on extra time (without pay) for the past five weeks; and, if so, for how long they are likely to be so employed; whether these 1600 writers are being constantly placed on extra time without pay during the year; and, if the staff is not sufficient to perform the work during the regular office hours, whether he will take steps to increase the staff; and, whether he will also cause inquiry to be made as to the accuracy of the weekly returns supplied as to "Hours Extra Employed"?
§ THE SECRETARY TO THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. FORWOOD,) Lancashire, Ormskirk
About two-thirds of the writers employed in the Expense Accounts Office at Chatham have, during the past five weeks, been employed on an average four hours per week longer than they are usually required to work. Even with this additional number of hours, they have attended less than the Dockyard hours which they can be called upon regularly to work. The extra attendance has been in part due to changes incident to the recent increases in dockyard pay, and to a want of energy in some few members of the staff. Under the terms of their agreements writers can be required to give attendance beyond the ordinary working hours of the dockyard, without extra compensation, but the Admiralty take care not to strain the proviso, and endeavour to confine it to cases of pressure, such as during preparation of the Estimates and Annual Accounts, when increased labour is thrown on all members of the staff, and is, as a rule, cheerfully rendered. No complaints on the subject of overtime have reached the Admiralty from the writers at Chatham, and it is essential for the maintenance of proper discipline and for good administration, that representations from persons aggrieved should be made direct through the ordinary official channels. I have inquired into the accuracy of the weekly returns and am satisfied they properly represent the number of extra hours ordered to be worked to meet pressure. Extra hours worked up to make up arrears due to business are, however, not included.