HC Deb 13 June 1898 vol 59 cc38-9
MR. P. O'BRIEN (Kilkenny)

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Treasury, as representing the Postmaster General, whether he is aware that the postal staff at Woolwich is inadequate to deal with, the work of the office during the men's holiday season; that there is no reserve staff there; that auxiliary officers are detailed to perform established men's duties; that for some time past the last night delivery was done by established men as extra duty; that for it they were only paid on the auxiliaries' scale instead of their own scale; and that their appeal to the surveyor to be allowed established rate of pay for it was successful, but that the concession was accompanied by an instruction that in future this last delivery should be performed by telegraph boys instead of by established men; is he aware that four boys named Goodman, Richmond, Bowden, and Sullivan, all under 16 years of age, are now working this last night delivery instead of established postmen, and that they do not finish it before 10 p.m.; and whether he will take steps to remedy the grievances complained of?


The established outdoor force at Woolwich—to which the honourable Member's Question seems exclusively to refer—is not adequate to deal with all the work for the eight months of the year during which the postmen's holidays extend, and there is no reserve staff of established postmen. The necessary aid for that period is ordinarily provided by delegating to auxiliaries, preferably assistant postmen, the duties of the full-time men, and by employing senior telegraph messengers on the assistant postmen's duties. The late night delivery at Woolwich was for a time performed by established men on overtime duty, and paid for at the rates paid to auxiliaries, but the error as regards payment was rectified as soon as it came to the knowledge of the surveyor. The surveyor gave the instruction referred to, as he thought the employment of the senior boys on the duty preferable to giving the established men overtime work. In consequence of an exceptional number of Vacancies and absence on sick and annual leave, the surveyor, last month, authorised the employment of four boys under 16 on the duty referred to; but the boys were exceptionally strong well-grown boys, they will all complete their sixteenth year during the present year, and the only alternative would have been, and is, the suspension of the annual leave of the established force during the most desirable period of the year. In the circumstances, the Postmaster General is not prepared to disturb the existing arrangement.