HC Deb 25 July 1940 vol 363 cc949-50
1. Rear-Admiral Sir Murray Sueter

asked the Minister of Labour whether he has been furnished with reports as to the extent of absenteeism in munition factories since the introduction of week-end and other forms of overtime working?

The Minister of Labour (Mr. Ernest Bevin)

I have no statistics on this matter. It is evident, however, that undue exhaustion, which is one of the causes of absenteeism, must be prevented if production is to be maintained at the maximum, and in order to secure this I am issuing immediately some notes for guidance on "Hours of Work and Maximum Production" to give an indication of the kind of adjustment in the hours of work that should be made. I will have copies placed in the Vote Office as soon as they are available.

Mr. Robert Gibson

Is it clear that there is not as much absenteeism as among landlords and plural farmers?

Mr. Levy

Is my right hon. Friend aware that when these men are away it is generally on a Tuesday or Wednesday, and that they work double-time over the week-end?

Mr. Kirkwood

Did you ever work in a factory in your life?

Mr. Bevin

I would make this appeal to the hon. Member for Elland (Mr. Levy), that I think it is doing untold harm to the country to keep singling out exceptions, especially having regard to the fact that in all the air raids, in all that is going on, the men are sticking it as they are.

Mr. Levy

Is it not in the national interest that if a man wants to take a day off, it should be on a Saturday or Sunday and not on a Wednesday, when the rate of pay is single-time?

Mr. Bevin

I would remind the hon. Member that very often, if men took the Saturday or Sunday off, they might, by that very act, hold up the delivery of aircraft or other things which were needed for the Forces the very next day. The question of when and how they take their time off is one for the management and the union concerned.

Mr. Lawson

Is not the hon. Member showing remarkable ignorance of working conditions?