HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1967-9W

asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the women employed in post offices throughout the Metropolitan districts are complaining of the amount of overtime which they are compelled to work; whether he is aware that these women are suffering from the continuous strain which has been imposed upon them during the whole period of the War; whether, owing to the Post Office arrangement of working hours, the normal attendance is frequently made up of long and short days, and that it frequently happens that the extra duty complained of is added to a heavy day of ten hours; whether, in many cases, the total attendances in three days amounts to as much as thirty-two hours; whether in six small offices in the North-Western district, during four weeks of July, 1,597 hours of overtime were worked; whether this is typical of the state throughout London and the provinces; whether he will state the comparative cost of this number of hours of work calculated at the normal rate of wages as compared with the extra duty rate; and whether, having regard to the severe nervous, mental and physical strain to which these overworked members of his staff have been subjected since 1914, he will take immediate steps to permanently increase the staff in accordance with the needs of the offices?


It is unfortunately the case that a considerable amount of overtime has been necessary recently, but I may say that even at the six offices re- ferred to in the North-Western district the average daily overtime per woman during the four weeks ended 27th July was not more than about one hour and this is considerably in excess of the general average. The cost of the overtime work at mean overtime rates during the period in question would be about £94, and the cost of an equal amount of work at mean wages rates would have been about £76. Special measures have been taken to increase the staff in the North-Western district, where the shortage has recently been accentuated by special circumstances, and the question of increasing the staff in other districts is under consideration. In several of the cases where as much as thirty-two hours overtime was worked in three consecutive days only twenty-two hours' duty were performed during the remaining three days of the week.


asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that the staff at the Lambeth Post Office submitted a complaint to the local postmaster over two months ago with regard to the excessive amount of overtime at that office and the unsatisfactory arrangement of the hours of attendance; whether the postmaster stated that the work did not justify the regular employment of another full-time officer, and that the Post Office staff in London was inadequate to meet all requirements, but that overtime at Lambeth would be reduced to a minimum; whether, despite this promise, permanent overtime has increased; whether on some duties as much as fourteen hours' overtime per week is compulsory; whether on a duty commencing at 8 a.m. and finishing at 8 p.m. the meal reliefs are given for dinner at 1 p.m. and tea at 3 p.m., Monday to Friday, and on Saturday at 2 p.m.; whether it is a fact that the Post Office staff in the London districts is inadequate to meet the requirements of the work; and whether, in the interests of the public and of the staff, he will take immediate steps to provide sufficient permanent staff to meet the requirements of his Department?


Arrangements have been made for the employment of an additional counter clerk and telegraphist at the office referred to, and I hope that the overtime will soon be reduced. The arrangement of the meal reliefs has not previously been brought under notice and inquiry shall be made on the subject. The shortage of staff in the London dis- tricts has been mainly due to the withdrawal of a large number of male officers for military service or for other special duties and to the difficulty of replacing them by competent substitutes, but the position is improving as these men return to duty, and other measures for relieving the situation are under consideration.