Mr. T. WILSON
asked the Postmaster-General whether meal reliefs are provided for under the Post Office regulations; whether he is aware that at the Mossley Exchange two telephonists performed eighty-two and eighty-nine and a half hours' excess time during the period February, 1914, to May, 1915, owing to the failure on the part of the responsible official to comply with the published regulations; that the efforts of the girls to secure payment for the overtime worked have been resisted; if so, if he will state the reason for this state of affairs; whether he is aware that at the wireless station at Murcar no provision was made for meal reliefs between the opening of the station and 2nd September, 1917; that 1310W it has been found impossible to provide reliefs except at an expense which the Department refuse to sanction; and that as an alternative, authority has been given for the meal period to be paid for as overtime; whether he will explain why the claims for the time worked in excess during the previous months has been disallowed; whether he is aware that between April, 1916, and October, 1917, the postmaster failed to provide meal reliefs at Lerwick on Sundays, and that requests for payment have been repeatedly refused on the ground that the loss of meal reliefs has been no real hardship; and whether, seeing that in each case the overtime worked was due to the failure of responsible officials to carry out the explicit regulations, he will allow these claims, or, alternatively, allow them to be submitted to arbitration?
§ Mr. PEASE
It has long been the rule that monetary payments cannot be made in respect of the loss of meal reliefs, and I am not prepared to set the rule aside in these cases. The normal weekly wage covers an attendance of forty-eight hours, and, although in ordinary course the normal hours of actual work are reduced below this limit by the concession of meal reliefs, I cannot regard this as a sufficient reason for waiving the principle in exceptional cases such as those mentioned.