Whole-Time Worker's Discharge, Streatham.

Oral Answers to Questions — Civil Defence. – in the House of Commons on 25th June 1942.

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Mr. Robertson:

asked the Home Secretary whether he is aware of the treatment accorded to Mr. W. A. Pennington, of Streatham, a whole-time Civil Defence rescue worker for two and a half years, who, on the day he came out of hospital after an operation for mastoid, was discharged without notice or pay in lieu of notice, with the result he had to apply for public assistance to maintain himself, his wife and family; and whether he will review this case?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

Mr. Pennington received full pay until 20th March, 1942, on which date he completed the full authorised period of paid sick leave. He did not receive from the local authority notice of the date on which payment was due to cease, and, in view of that, he was given later a further week's pay up to 26th March in lieu of notice. Provision is made for the payment of whole-time members of the Civil Defence General Services during sick leave, not being absence due to war service injury, for a maximum of 13 weeks in any period of 52 weeks. The current arrangements in this respect were reviewed as recently as February last after consultation with the Trade Union interests concerned. My right hon. Friend does not contemplate the revision of these conditions at the present time, and he could not justify exceptional treatment of individual cases.

Mr. Robertson:

Is the hon. Lady aware that it has taken me seven weeks' effort to get this man one week's pay, and is she aware that it is very brutal to tell a man on the day he comes out of hospital—a married man with a family—that he is dismissed; and is there any authority given by this House to my right hon. Friend to act towards any employee like this?

Photo of Miss Ellen Wilkinson Miss Ellen Wilkinson , Jarrow

I quite appreciate the difficulties when a man came back and was told that he was no longer in the service, but as a matter of fact as soon as the matter was brought to our notice we communicated with the local authority concerned, and proper payment in lieu of notice was given. But, as I have stated, we did review the whole of these current arrangements last February, and the Trade Union representing the men came to an agreement with us over the improved conditions we then put forward.