HC Deb 22 February 1916 vol 80 cc571-2

asked the Minister of Munitions whether his attention has been drawn to the case brought before the Manchester Munitions Tribunal on 3rd February in which a woman, employed as a driller by a firm of electrical engineers, applied for a certificate enabling her to leave her employment on the ground that she was not being paid a reasonable wage; whether he is aware that the woman affirmed that her wage never exceeded 12s. 4d. a week, though she worked a normal week of 50½ hours with 8¾ hours overtime in addition; whether he is aware that the leaving certificate was refused; and whether he will issue instructions making it easy for workers to obtain leaving certificates in all cases where there is gross underpayment, or enforcing a general minimum wage for all women munition workers?


My right hon. Friend agrees that the wages paid in this case are inadequate and he proposes as soon as possible after advice from the tribunal to be set up under the Munitions of War Amendment Act, to issue directions to deal with such cases. With regard to the particular facts to which my hon. Friend draws attention, I am informed that the woman's original application to the firm for a certificate was made, not on the ground of wages, but on her being required for work at home; and that the munitions tribunal refused a certificate on the firm offering to consider the question of increase of wages after one week if she returned to her work and showed proficiency. As regards the last part of the question, I would refer to Section 5 (5) of the Munitions of War Amendment Act, which will come into force on Monday next, and under which munitions tribunals in dealing with certificates will be required to consider whether the conditions of the Fair-Wages Clause have been observed.