asked the Secretary of State for Air why members of the R.O.C., who enrolled for full-time duties on a 48-hour week basis for the duration of war, have had this condition varied to a 60-hour week; whether those members of the R.O.C. who have refused to sign the new undertaking are debarred from the increases in basic pay and the higher rate of service pay; and the reasons for refusing to pay such increases to Mr. G. Wright, of Peterborough.
In June, 1944, higher rates of basic and service pay were awarded to members of the Royal Observer Corps on condition that they undertook to work up to 60 hours a week, if necessary, without overtime payment. The object of this requirement was to equate conditions of service throughout the Corps and members were fully aware that there was no intention of increasing the normal working week of 48 hours. The member to whom my hon. Friend refers declined to give the necessary undertaking and is thus ineligible for the higher rates.
Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the correspondence on this subject; and is he not aware that these men have fulfilled their contracts of 48 hours a week since the beginning of the war, but are having to refuse an increase because they will not agree to a variation which has never been negotiated by anybody?
I have looked at the correspondence, and I feel convinced that this arrangement is fair. Those who stand on the letter of their bargain, and refuse to work for more than 48 hours per week, will continue to receive the rate of pay for which they contracted to work. Those who wish to receive an increase which will bring them into line with Civil Defence workers—who are under an obligation to work up to 72 hours per week and normally work more than 48 hours—can receive that increase, if they will undertake the obligation to work up to 60 hours. This arrangement has commended itself to nearly 95 per cent. of the men who have signed the undertaking.