Royal Ordnance Factories.

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons on 5th August 1942.

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Photo of Mr Edward Dunn Mr Edward Dunn , Rother Valley

They were doing highly skilled work with a special steel alloy in this small factory. In order that there should be no misunderstanding about it, I took the Minister to this small factory. It is not a Royal Ordnance factory in the usual sense; it was in existence before the war. In efficiency and management, the small factories make as important a contribution to the war effort as the big factories about which there is so much talk. In my view some of the big factories are far too large. The point is that this small factory is now producing at least 1,450 per cent. higher than it was asked to do.

The conditions prevailing in the administration departments of the Royal Ordnance factories are not quite fair and reasonable. It is true that, in the main, the women are now working eight-hour shifts and in many factories are working three successive shifts, but, on the administration side, girls and women are working very long hours indeed, while their pay is far too small. I say that from personal knowledge. When the Minister of Labour made an appeal for women, my own girl answered the call and went into the administration side of a Royal Ordnance factory. The hours are from nine in the morning till seven at night, on Saturday morning from nine until 12, and on Sunday from nine until five. Such hours are too long. The age of the girls is from 17 to 21. Were it not for the excessive overtime they work, and did they not live at home, the girls could riot maintain themselves in decency and comfort on the wages they receive.