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Five-Day Week

Volume 436: debated on Thursday 24 April 1947

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asked the Minister of Fuel and Power why the introduction of the five-day week in coalmines has necessitated a 16 per cent. addition to piecework wage rates.

The agreement as to the terms on which the five-day week will operate was a voluntary agreement negotiated by the National Coal Board and the National Union of Mineworkers, but I am informed that the five-day week has not "necessitated a 16 per cent. addition to piecework wage rates." The rates remain the same, and the men who work less than five full shifts in future will get no more than they did in the past. What has been done is to give a bonus of 16 per cent. of their earnings to pieceworkers who work five full shifts.

Is it not the fact that this figure approximates to the amount the Government expected the country to lose in output from the 40-hour week, which is, in fact, a form of compensation?

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is not very objectionable to have a rise in wages if there is a corresponding rise in the output of coal? Can he give any guarantee that this method will increase the output of coal?

Of course, I cannot give any guarantee that there will be an increase in the output of coal as a result of this arrangement, but I hope it will have that effect.