I beg to ask the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that 84 of the 85 men employed in the fuze department of the Laboratory of the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, refused to take out their pay lines last week on the score that the rates were unsatisfactory; whether the men have frequently complained to the foreman about their pay without obtaining redress; and whether he will cause inquiry to be made into the circumstances with a view to removing any grounds for dissatisfaction with the rates of pay which may exist?
§ THE FINANCIAL SECRETARY TO THE WAR OFFICE (Mr. WOODALL,) Hanley
(who replied) said: Seventy-six men out of 150 employed on fuze work refused their pay tickets last week, but made no complaints as to their rates of pay or gave any ex- 376 planation of their action either to their foreman or other authorities. The average rate of pay of these laborers since the introduction of the 48 hour system has been 27s. 8d. per week On this occasion, owing to slackness of work, the pay fell to 25s. 8d. It will this week again rise to or above the average. Slackness of work must either be met by suspension of men or by their earning less wages.
I would ask the hon. Gentleman if it is not the fact that these men went over a month ago to the foreman to complain of the rate of wages, and got no satisfactory reply, in consequence of which they determined to have attention called to the matter?
§ MR. WOODALL
I am not aware whether that is the fact. I am inquiring into the whole matter, and, of course, if there is any reasonable ground to lead to the belief that there is a grievance, it will receive attention. The figures I have quoted show, at any rate, that the men in the department in question have no substantial ground of complaint.