HC Deb 23 January 1947 vol 432 cc67-8W
26. Mr. Rhys Davies

asked the President of the Board of Trade his reasons for urging the adoption of the two-shift system in the Lancashire cotton industry, thus violating a century-old industrial tradition; and whether, before he decided on that course, he gave full consideration to the domestic and social implications involved where so many women are employed.

Sir S. Cripps

The development of two-shift working formed an integral part of the whole scheme for strengthening the cotton industry put forward by the Government because the cost of new machinery introduced to increase output is so heavy that the industry must be prepared to use that machinery two shifts a day if it is to maintain its competitive position. Moreover, maximum output will be obtained if labour is concentrated on the new machinery. I am aware that few cotton mills have used the two-shift system in the past, but, as I have explained to the industry, we asked for a new flexibility of approach to the problems arising out of a new set of economic circumstances, and for the operatives to be ready to examine these matters without bias against them arising out of past customs or traditions. It is not, of course, expected that mills should change over to two-shift working without regard for the circumstances of their operatives or without consultation with them. I may point out that experience of shift working in other industries shows that it may offer advantages, as well as disadvantages, on the social and domestic side, to women and other workers.