§ Dr. ADDISON
asked what are the reasons for the discharge of a number of men from the post-office factory at Mount Pleasant, some of whom have worked there for many years, in one case up to thirty-nine years; and whether the Postmaster-General can say what work is to be offered to these men outside, as they state that they have been given to understand is to be the case?
EARL of RONALDSHAY
asked—(1) If, while employés in the Post Office wood workshops are being dismissed, large contracts are being given to outside firms; (2) if the majority of the employés in the Post Office wood workshops who have received notice of dismissal are men with many years' service and receiving trade-union rates of wages; and if the majority of those retained are receiving less than the recognised union rate of wages?
§ Captain NORTON
My right hon. Friend has asked me to answer Questions 1221 59, 60, and 61 together. The reason for giving notice to a number of wood-workers in the Post Office factory at Mount Pleasant was explained in his answer to the hon. Member for North Islington on the 24th of last month. The man to whom my hon. Friend the Member for Hoxton refers as having worked in the factory for thirty-nine years has, I regret to say, just died of pneumonia at the advanced ago of seventy-two. All the men under notice of discharge have been actually offered suitable work with a firm of repute at their own trade under favourable conditions. The majority of them have already accepted this work. Two only have definitely declined the offer made, and on behalf of these two further inquiries are being made. Any suggestion that the Postmaster-General is dismissing men paid at trade union rates in order to have the work performed by men paid at lower rates is, of course, without the smallest foundation, and as regards the rates of pay and conditions of employment in the Post Office factories I may remind the Noble Lord the Member for Hornsey that when the men were offered an option between agreed trade rates and conditions (recommended by the Select Committee) and the existing Post Office conditions they chose the latter. The men who are retained will, of course, continue to enjoy these conditions. The majority of the men to whom notice has been given had some length of service and are among the more highly rated of the wood-working hands. For these higher-grade men there is, as my right hon. Friend has already stated, no prospect of further employment in the Post Office. For the unskilled men who have been working in conjunction with the hands under notice employment can be found in the Post Office (though not necessarily in the factories) on work of other kinds. No contract for woodwork only has for a long time been placed with an outside firm for which the factory quotation, both as to price and rate of delivery, was at all suitable. An urgent order for distribution cases, of which the woodwork represents but a small portion of the cost, has just been placed outside after the Postmaster-General had satisfied himself that for reasons of economy and of difficulty in securing sufficiently early delivery he would not have been justified in giving it to the Post Office factories.