NEW KHAKI CONTRACTS.
CRITICISM OF GOVERNMENT ARRANGEMENT.
The terms upon which the Government have let the new khaki contracts were the subject of protest at a meeting of Leeds Trades Council last night.
Miss Quinn, on behalf of the Shop Stewards, said that during the boom last year the Government offered all contracts on a flat rate, and it was said at the time that that arrangement paid the Government thousands of pounds. The recent contracts, however, had been let by tender. The result was that women workers were being sweated. Wages had dropped by one-half. A tunic for which 1s. 6d. was paid a year ago was now down at 1s., and in some cases 10d. Regulation trousers had changed from 7s. to 4s. 6d. It was nothing short of a public scandal. The contracts were certainly covered by a fair wages clause, but the only clause existing was a minimum of 3½d. per hour, which no one could say was a fair wage to-day.
Miss Holmes quoted a case where the wages had dropped 75 per cent., but here the women refused to continue work, and they got all the rates advanced to the old prices in one section. She did not blame the Government altogether. There was a basis below which the Government would not go, and the contracts were not so low as such manufacturers would have the workers believe. The Trade Board rate of 3½d. was not a living wage, and some employers were paying even less than that.
A resolution of protest was carried unanimously.
[Again, this shows that women workers did not always earn higher wages during the war that they had done previously - an earlier post said that some women munitions workers were also badly paid.]