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In regard to hours the Committee are unanimous in recommending the principle of a legal maximum of normal hours per week for all employed persons. The number of hours they recommend is forty-eight, but they recognize that this number may be reduced by agreement, and that there are also exceptional cases in which it may be necessary that it should be increased.
They accordingly suggest that legal sanction should be given to trade agreements for the reduction of hours, and that under certain conditions similar sanction might be given to such agreements for the augmentation of hours. They propose that if there be a desire for variation expressed by one party only, a conference should be summoned, whose decision should under ordinary circumstances receive legal sanction.
They have not deemed it possible within the time at their disposal, nor did they feel competent to draw up a list of proposed exemptions, but they consider that an interval should elapse after the passing of the Act in which applications for exemptions should be made and that inquiry should then take place into each case, and the application of the Act should, if necessary, be postponed in any particular case until the completion of such inquiry.
Thus some occupations may be altogether exempted from the Act, while in others the maximum may be varied in either direction by agreement between the parties.
The Committee's detailed recommendations under this head are as follows:
Maximum to be Specified in Act
1. That the maximum working hours per week should be forty-eight, and this maximum should be established by Act of Parliament.
Act to be of General Application
2. That the Act shall apply generally to all employed persons, but that provision shall be made for exemption from or variation of the hours of the Act to be granted in proper cases, as follows:
Agreement to Substitute Lower Maximum
3. That where an agreement has been arrived at between representative organizations of employers and employed in any trade and by such agreement provision is made that the number of working hours per week for that trade shall be lower than the maximum established under the Act, the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister shall, if he has no reason to deem it contrary to the public interest, make an Order prescribing the lower number of hours as the maximum for that trade.
Agreement to Substitute Higher Maximum
4. That where an agreement has been arrived at between representative organizations of employers and employed in any trade and by such agreement provision is made that the number of working hours per week for that trade shall be higher than the maximum established under the Act, the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister shall, if he has no reason to deem it contrary to the public interest, make an order prescribing for the trade the number of hours specified in the place of the maximum established under the Act.
Application by One Party Only for Variation of Maximum
5. That where in any trade representative organizations of either employers or employed are desirous that the hours established under the Act or an Order should be varied (either by way of decrease or increase), and no joint representation has been made in accordance with the two preceding paragraphs, the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister shall, on a request in writing of the representative organizations of either the employers or the employed concerned, summon a Conference of representatives of such organizations to consider the advisability of the provisions of the Act being varied in order to meet the requirements of the particular trade in respect of which the request is made, and in the event of a substantial agreement being reached as the result of such conference an Order may be made by the Minister in accordance with the provisions of the two preceding paragraphs.
Provision for Variation or Exemption by Order
6. That where in special trades an application is made for variation of the number of hours established by the Act and no agreement is arrived at in the trade, or where an application is made for total or partial exemption from the Act, provision should be made under the Act whereby, after consultation with the National Industrial Council, a competent authority shall inquire into the application and, where special necessity is proved, the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister may by order grant the application: provided, that (a) where such variation or exemption is granted the competent authority may attach conditions thereto, and (6) variation under this clause shall be granted only where no agreement has been arrived at under paragraphs 4 to 5.
Provision Respecting Orders Varying the Number
7. That Orders substituting in any trade a number of hours beyond that established under the Act shall not be made unless and until the appropriate authority is satisfied either that the rate of wages payable in the trade is fixed on such a basis as to take into account, for payment at an enhanced rate, any extra hours worked, or that provision is made for the payment, as overtime, of all hours worked over forty-eight in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 10 below.
Provision for Publication of Orders
8. Before any Order becomes operative it shall be published for a period of (say) one month to allow of objections being made by either side. In default of such objections the Order shall become operative on the date named. If substantial objection is made, the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister shall not make the Order until he has caused public inquiry to be made.
Reference to Trade Boards
9. In any trade for which a Trade Board has been established any proposal to vary the maximum hours shall be brought before the Trade Board for report.
10. Overtime, especially systematic overtime, should be discouraged, but it is recognized that in certain circumstances overtime is unavoidable. The extent of overtime to be allowed in any trade, and the conditions under which it may be worked, shall be determined under the procedure laid down in the preceding clauses for variation or exemption from the terms of the Act, either (a) by the representatives of the Trade, or (6) in the less organized trades by the Trade Board or, in default of either, by the Secretary of State or other appropriate Minister, in accordance with general principles laid down by the Minister on the advice of the National Industrial Council.
Overtime, when worked, shall be computed and paid for in accordance with the custom of each particular trade or industry in the several districts concerned, provided that overtime shall in no case be paid for at less than time and a quarter. Subject to agreement and Orders made under the provisions of Clauses 4, 5, and 6, no person shall be required to work more than fortyeight hours without overtime payment.
Night Shift and Holiday Work
11. The Committee are of opinion that in any arrangement as to hours and overtime pay, the question of night shift and Sunday and holiday work should receive special consideration by the National Industrial Council.
Date of Act Coming into Operation
12. That the Act should not come into operation until the expiry of six months from its date, and that in respect to a particular trade, where an inquiry under Clause 6 is pending or is in progress, the appropriate Minister shall have power by Order to suspend the operation of the Act for a further period not exceeding three months.
The Committee have agreed that minimum time-rates of wages should be established by legal enactment, and that they ought to be of universal applicability. The Committee took full cognizance both of the difficulties of determining on particular rates and of dealing with exceptional cases. Having these considerations in mind, they made the following recommendations:
1. Minimum time-rates of wages should be established by legal enactment and should be universally applicable.
2. A Commission should be appointed immediately upon the passing of the Act to report within three months as to what these rates should be, and by what methods and what successive steps they should be brought into operation. The Commission should advise on the means of carrying out the necessary administrative work.
3. In the meantime Trade Boards should be established forthwith in the various less organized trades where they do not already exist.
4. The Commission should review the Trade Boards Acts, especially with the object of facilitating and expediting as far as possible the procedure in fixing and applying minimum rates.
5. The Minister of Labor, on the recommendation of the proposed National Industrial Council, shall appoint the Commission, which shall consist of an equal number of representatives of Employers Associations, and Trade Unions, with a Chairman nominated by the Government.
6. The Commission shall give adequate public notice of its proposed findings and shall hear representatives of any trade that may desire to be heard.
7. Where an agreement is arrived at between representative organizations of Employers and Trade Unions in any trade laying down a minimum rate of wages, the Minister of Labor shall have power, after investigation, to apply such minimum rate, with such modification as he may think fit, to all employers engaged in the trade falling within the scope of the agreement.
Note. The expression "trade" used in the above proposals relating to maximum hours and minimum wages includes industry, branch of trade or industry, occupation, or special class of workers, whether for the whole country or a special area.
METHODS OF DEALING WITH WAR ADVANCES
In regard to the methods of dealing with war advances, the Committee recommend:
1. That the Wages (Temporary Regulation) Act, 1918, should be continued in force for a further period of six months from May
2. That the Interim Court of Arbitration constituted under that Act should hold an inquiry—sitting as a special court for the purpose—as to the war advances which have been granted and the manner in which they have been granted, whether by way of increase of time rates or piece-work prices, or by way of war bonus or otherwise, and as to the effect of the 12% per cent, bonus to time-workers, and the 7}4 per cent, to piece-workers, and should determine finally how these advances should be dealt with, and in particular whether they should be added to