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Postmen's Wages

Volume 180: debated on Thursday 15 August 1907

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I beg to ask the Postmaster-General, with reference to the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages, which recommends that London postmen's wages should range from £49 to £91 a year, whether he is now aware that the Berlin postmen's wages range from £63 to £93 a year; and whether, in view of the fact that German wages generally are lower than British wages, he will level up British postmen's wages to a proper standard. I beg also to ask the Postmaster-General if his attention has been directed to the fact that, although the London postal porters maximum wages of 30s. per week have not been increased since 1882, or during a period of rather more than 25 years, the Report of the Select Committee on Post Office Wages does not recommend that an increase in that maximum should now be made, while it states that its recommendations are sufficient for a considerable period; and whether, in view of the increased cost of living and the consequent real decrease in wages sustained by the postal porters, he can see his way to increase the maximum to at least £100 a year.

I will answer these two Questions together. I have already informed my hon. friend that the Report as a whole is receiving my most careful consideration; and I do not think it would be advantageous to enter upon a discussion of particular points in regard to it. But, as he makes a specific comparison between Berlin and London it may be well, in order to avoid misapprehension, to point out that the comparison is inaccurate, and the figures are therefore misleading. Before a Berlin postman can reach the minimum to which my hon. friend refers, he has, I understand, to perform nine or ten years' unestablished service on much lower pay. After a similar length of service the London postman would have arrived at or near the top of his scale. Moreover, the London postman, in addition to the maximum, is eligible for stripe allowances, up to an amount of 6s. a week. Thus the maximum remuneration recommended by the Committee is 41s. a week or about £107 per annum in the case of the Central London postman. In addition there are pension rights, uniforms, boot allowance, sick pay, &c. The hours of the London postman are forty-eight a week; those of the Berlin postman are, I understand, considerably longer.