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Wednesday, 29 April 1942

Tt may be assumed that the basic reason for industries being declared " protected " industries is to ensure, as far as possible, that the essential product or service, should be efficiently and expeditiously supplied for defence purposes, up to the maximum capacity limits of the factory producing them. It seems, however, that the achievement of this primary purpose is being seriously impaired by the impracticable and hampering conditions imposed on factory management by the regulations and the interpretations placed on them, in the control and direction of the labour engaged in the industry.

In a recent case where an employee refused to carry out a customary portion of his work, his employment was suspended and it took over three weeks before it was determined, under Regulation 16a, that he should not have been suspended and, therefore, had to be paid back money amounting to over £30 for three weeks of idleness.

In addition, time was taken up in supplying the department with the statement of the reasons for the suspension.

Then an investigation was made at the factory by two departmental officers and eventually a decision given by the department that the employee's refusal did not constitute " serious misconduct " and therefore did not warrant suspension.

In another case an employee twice by carelessness, if not deliberately, caused considerable loss and waste of material in process and was advised that as he was unsuitable he would he transferred to another section of the establishment and was instructed by his foreman to report to the factory manager.

This he failed to do and instead of transferring, as instructed, he left the works and reported to the department that his employer had disrated him.

The employer was advised by the department that, firstly, there could be no suspension without permission; secondly, that the regulations did not permit such changes of status without giving the employee a week's notice terminating his employment in one grade before he could be paid the rate in the new grade and then only with the department's approval.

Obviously such are impossible conditions for the efficient working of a body of men numbering 1,000 or more whose services in an emergency must be, through breakdown, sickness, or absences to that extent, interchangeable.

The third example furnished by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures is as follows: -

These facts illustrate the cumbersome nature of the regulations and the procedure which had to be adopted by employer " C " before suspending an employee.

In regard to this employee, the employer alleges: - "This man has been a source of trouble since his employment with us, which commenced on the 30th March, 1942.

He has repeatedly demanded his clearance from us, and has as often been advised of the correct procedure.

Although a reasonably good welder, his efforts and remarks suggest an almost sinister meaning.

From reports, he has also aroused the tempers of the other welders by his statements and actions.

He claims that " while we were prepared to keep him here and pay him, he was quite satisfied to sit down all day ".

Another serious complaint we have to make was his faulty workmanship, which he claimed was the best he could do, and that " if we were not satisfied we knew what to do ".

We are quite satisfied that this bad workmanship was intentional.

After completion of a job he claimed that he was free from duty until the next job was brought to him, and that it was for his foreman to report to him, not him to his foreman.

The foregoing may be summed upas follows: -

General insubordination.

Unauthorized absenteeism.

Refusal to carry out instructions.

Persistent interference with other men at work.

Faulty workmanship.

Threats of formulating a strike, &c.

This is what the employer did: - 6th April, 1942. - Wrote to Local National Service Officer and asked for inspector to come out and look into the case. 7th April, 1942. - Inspector called and interviewed employee, who worked reasonably well for a while. 15th April, 1942. - Telephoned National Service Officer re this employee's continued unsatisfactory conduct. Telephone call followed up by letter setting out the facts. 16th April, 1942. - Employee finally suspended and facts placed before Deputy Director of Man-power by letter. 20th April, 1942. - Received letter from Deputy Director confirming suspension.

I repeat that these cases are given as merely typical of the general experiences of employers at present.

Mr.Ward. - In those cases the employer himself was mostly responsible for the delay, because he did not use his power of suspension.

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