§ Major MORGAN
asked the Postmaster-General whether he is aware that an assistant was employed at the Tylorstown sub-office for 13 months without payment, and that the hours worked were from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. or 9 p.m.; whether in September, 1919, the sub-postmaster informed the assistant in question that he proposed to grant her a salary of 10s. per month, payable on the 1st of each month, in order that she might replace a counter clerk who had left; whether, as a result of an interview between the mother of the assistant and the sub-postmaster, he was graciously pleased to increase the salary to £l per month; whether, in consequence of her dissatisfaction with the salary proposed, the mother complained to the Postmaster-General, with the result that the girl was dismissed in the month of January of this year; whether he has been informed that the dismissed assistant has been replaced by another girl employed under similar circumstances, and presumably no return for the same absence of remuneration; and whether he will state the policy of his department in such cases, and if it is considered to be necessary to the efficiency of his department that it should be subsidised by this form of unpaid labour?
§ Mr. PEASE
Enquiry has been made in this case and the results show that my hon. and gallant Friend has not been fully informed. The hours of duty are understood to have been nine daily, the assistant did not replace a counter clerk, and the reason for dismissal is stated to have been that she showed no promise74W of becoming competent in counter duties. I am further informed that the sub-postmaster agreed in the first place to engage her as an apprentice at the special request of her mother, though he was not in need of another assistant. The standard applied by the Department in such cases is that the conditions of service shall not be inferior to those of shop assistants in the service of good employers in the same locality; and the local practice in the neighbourhood in question is understood to recognise an initial training of two years' unpaid employment. The assistant now employed was paid after the first month, but she is stated also to be in excess of the requirements of the work.