asked the Postmaster-General (1) what steps have been taken to cope with the extra work causing overtime at the Money Order Department; which of these steps were taken on the initiative of the controlling officers of the Department, and which on the suggestion of the Association of Post Office Women Clerks; whether it was foreseen that the work arising from the repayment of National Savings Certificates would considerably increase from 1926 when the first certificates matured; and, if so, why adequate steps to increase the staff were not taken at a much earlier date;
(2) At what date compulsory overtime began to be worked by the women clerks in the Money Order Department; what is 687W the longest period without overtime since that date; and when all compulsory overtime, is expected to cease;
(3) For how many weeks the staff of the Money Order Department has been compelled to forgo the weekly half-holiday on Saturday afternoons during the years 1926 and 1927; and whether he has considered that, although it is laid down in the Reorganisation Report that the Saturday half-holiday should not be granted where the state of business renders it impracticable, the intention was that normally such a holiday should only be withheld in times of exceptional pressure?
§ Sir W. MITCHELL-THOMSON
It was foreseen that the repayment and conversion of Savings Certificates would entail a considerable amount of additional work, but it was impossible to calculate in advance either its extent or the period which it would cover. Steps were taken to cope with the additional work by increasing the authorised establishment, by employing temporary force, and by borrowing staff from other Departments, but the circumstances were such that recourse to a considerable amount of overtime could not have been avoided. I am not aware that any suggestions were made by the Association referred to which are not ordinarily adopted by the Department to meet emergency pressure. It is not possible to give the dates on which compulsory overtime was in operation as they varied in the different branches of the Money Order Department, but, generally speaking, overtime began to reach substantial proportions in July, 1926, and after an interval between November, 1926, and February, 1927, the pressure recurred. I anticipate that compulsory extra duty will be discontinued immediately after Whitsuntide. The staff have not been compelled to forgo their Saturday half-holiday during the years 1926 and 1927. Overtime has been required only on the first five days of the week.