§ Mr. ATTLEE
(by Private Notice) asked the Postmaster-General whether he can now make any announcement in relation to the further remuneration of certain classes of less well paid Post Office employés, and if it has been possible to make any progress in the reduction of part-time labour?
§ Sir K. WOOD
Post Office employés, like other civil servants, benefited in July last by the wage consolidation scheme which was then put in operation. That scheme was of a general character. In particular, it made no special provision for certain Post Office servants 567 whose difficulties had repeatedly been pressed on my attention in this House and elsewhere. I have now had an opportunity of considering the position of the persons concerned, and I am glad to announce that I have felt justified in authorising increases in pay in the case of numbers of the individuals in question. These increases are the result of negotiations with the Union of Post Office Workers and the other staff associations of the Post Office. Those who will principally benefit are, in the main, ex-Service men who enter the Post Office at a comparatively late age as postmen or cleaners. I shall be publishing the exact details in a special Post Office Circular in the course of a few days, and I will arrange for copies of the Circular to be available in the Library.
In addition, I have, I am glad to say, been able to arrange, with the co-operation of the Union of Post Office Workers, for the abolition so far as London is concerned within the space of about three years of the class of auxiliary postmen. No less than 2,000 such posts will be extinguished. Auxiliary postmanships have already been abolished at the largest provincial offices, and special study is being made of the situation with a view to their abolition or their reduction in number at other large offices. These measures, taken together, will substantially ease the problem of part-time employment in the Post Office.
It is right I should inform the House what the total financial effects of these and other additions to Post Office wages will be. The Government's consolidation scheme will have resulted, when the "cuts" are fully restored, in an increase of £1,400,000 per annum in the Post Office wages bill. The improvements in pay to which I have referred here this afternoon will involve an additional cost of approximately £275,000 in the first year, rising after a few years to £500,000 per annum. Wage negotiations are still proceeding as regards certain other classes, e.g., engineering workmen, and I hope that in their case also a mutually acceptable settlement will be reached.
§ Mr. ATTLEE
While congratulating the Postmaster-General warmly on what has been done, in which I am sure the whole House will join, may I ask if he 568 can say on what date these increases will commence?
§ Mr. GRAHAM WHITE
Arising out of the very satisfactory and encouraging statement of the Postmaster-General, can he give any indication as to the number of part-time or auxiliary posts which will be abolished, and whether relative progress is being made in the provinces as well as in the Metropolitan area?
§ Sir J. NALL
May I ask whether the case of auxiliary postmen who get 35s. per week is being considered?
§ Mr. PALING
May I ask whether the negotiations which are taking place will include the 800 people who were mentioned in a question last week, adult full-time workers who are receiving 35s. per week?
§ Sir K. WOOD
I am much obliged for the statements which have been made. So far as the date as to when these increases will be made is concerned, I have gone carefully into the matter, and I think I would be justified in coming to the decision that they shall take effect as from the 1st November last. As to the number of auxiliary postmen, I hope it will be possible, so far as London is concerned, to deal with about 2,000 of these cases. So far as the provinces are concerned, as I stated in my reply, we hope to be able to pursue our inquiries and come to a satisfactory conclusion in that connection also. My hon. Friend who asked for exact details of the individual classes of Post Office employés who will benefit, I would refer to the Circular which I hope to place in the Library at a very early date.