A History of the Ministry of Information, 1939-46

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Section 2

The Day

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Table 8

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Table 9

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Table 10

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Table 11

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Table 12

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Table 13

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Table 14

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Table 15

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Table 16

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Table 17

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Table 18

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Table 19

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Table 20

The Day

In order to provide a background for the discussion of the feeding of young workers it was decided to ask a series of questions, 3 and numbers 7 to 17, to find out how they spent the day, in sleeping, in travelling and in working and in addition whether they did housework, worked overtime and whether they had breaks in their working day.

Hours Up

Questions 3 and 17, “At what time do you get up”? and “What time do you go to bed”? were asked and from the answers the total time up was calculated to the nearest hour. These questions were asked in relation to the last 24 hours. The time spent in bed is the balance of the 24 hours.

A comparison of the sexes by age shows an interesting difference. At age 14 the distribution of hours up is about the same for both boys and girls but in the higher age groups the proportions of boys spending more time up, - or sleeping less, is greater and this difference increases with age.

A comparison of the proportion who are up more than 16 hours shows this clearly:-

Details of each age group for boys and girls are given in Tables 8 and 9. It should be noted, however, that the proportions of the totals are not comparable as the numbers in the age groups are not the same for boys and girls.

There were marked differences in the numbers of hours spent “up” by the workers in different industries. Amongst boys, those working at the pit-head had the shortest day, those in heavy engineering the next shortest and those in light engineering the longest. This might be related to the fatigue of the work. In the case of girls, however, Cotton workers appear to have the shortest day over 60% less than 14 hours and none more than 15, whilst girls in Light Engineering had the longest:- 7.3%, 14 hours, 47.3% 15 hours, 37.6% 16 hours.

An interesting feature of this analysis is the identity of the distribution in the Clerical and Distributive industries, the length of whose day is between that of Cotton and Engineering.

Industry | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | Total | |||||
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No. | % | No. | % | No. | % | No. | % | No. | % | ||

Clerical | 4 | 1.5 | 69 | 25.3 | 151 | 55.2 | 46 | 16.9 | 3 | 1.1 | 273 |

Distributive | 7 | 2.7 | 67 | 26.2 | 141 | 54.7 | 39 | 15.2 | 3 | 1.2 | 257 |

More details of this analysis are not given as it is difficult to form a reliable estimate from them as the age distribution inside the industry groups is different.

Hours Worked

The analysis of hours worked by sex and age show interesting differences. The boys in the sample have much higher proportions working 8 and 9 hours than the girls, 45.9% and 45.7% respectively compared with 37.9% and 29.7%. The girls have a larger proportion working only 7 hours, 31.5% compared with 7.0%.

Whereas the proportion of boys working 9 hours in the day is greater in successive age groups rising from 26.3% in the 14 year old group to 56.5% in the 18 year old group no such trend is apparent in the case of the girls; the highest proportion is in the 15 year old group 34.4% and the lowest in the 14 year group, 21.1%, the 18 year old group has 27% working 9 hours. (Tables 10 and 11). It will be seen from this and the earlier results that the boys, as a group, are working longer hours and getting less sleep than the girls.

An analysis of hours worked in relation to the intensity of work shows that there is a greater proportion of Medium and Heavy jobs done by children working longer hours and this proportion increases with the length of the working day. (Table 12)

Note : the hours are taken to the nearest hour and exclude all breaks.

Overtime

A number of questions were asked concerning overtime, to find out how many children worked overtime, what hours of overtime they worked during the week and whether or not tea breaks were given where overtime was worked.

The information obtained was not entirely complete and details of the amount of overtime worked was not obtained for part of the sample.

Some 434 children were working overtime - about one fifth of the total - of these the amount of overtime worked was obtained for 389.

Table 13 shows the number of children working overtime in relation to hours worked and it will be seen that the greater proportion of the children working overtime are those who already work 8 or 9 hours in the day. In the previous section it will have been noted that in the same way the proportion of children with “medium” and “heavy” jobs is higher in these same groups. (Table 13)

A detailed analysis of the overtime worked is given in Table 14.

A considerable proportion of the children working overtime had to travel for more than half an hour each day but it is noteworthy that whilst one child in four of those travelling for half an hour worked overtime, less than one in seven of those travelling for an hour or more worked overtime.

(Table 15).

Hours Travelling | Overtime | No Overtime | Total |
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½ | 261 | 759 | 1,020 |

1 | 117 | 655 | 772 |

1½ | 37 | 232 | 269 |

2 | 20 | 145 | 165 |

2½ | 3 | 33 | 36 |

3 | 1 | 14 | 15 |

3½ | 1 | 2 | 3 |

4 | - | 5 | 5 |

TOTAL | 440 | 1,845 | 2,285 |

Tea Breaks

All the children were asked if they had a tea break when working over-time. There were 437 children answering this question of whom 167 or 38.6% had no tea break and 268 or 61.4% had a tea break.

Time spent in travelling to and from Work

From the answers to Questions 8 and 9 and 12 and 16 the time spent travelling in the morning and evening was ascertained. Time spent travelling at midday was not dealt with since the dinner hour is a fixed period. These travelling times are given to the nearest half hour.

The general picture is that over half of the children spend an hour or more during the day in travelling to work; included in these are a fifth who spend more than an hour and a half or more, and about a tenth 2 hours or more.

From the analysis by sex and age it appears that the girls in the sample did more travelling than the boys. (Tables 16 and 17).

That the time spent travelling makes a considerable addition to the working day is shown in table 18.

A defect of this analysis is that it does not show the fact that in many cases children living within 15 or 20 minutes journey of their home, rush home at dinner time, eat a hasty meal and rush back to work.

Breaks during the Day

Children were asked what official breaks they had during their working day and it was found that more than half had one or more breaks. Many of those for whom there was no official provision stated that they took a few minutes off in which to eat lunch. (Table 19)

Children having | No. | % |
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Neither Lunch nor Tea Break | 1,099 | 48.8 |

Tea Break Only | 174 | 7.7 |

Lunch Break Only | 337 | 15.0 |

Both Lunch and Tea Break | 644 | 28.5 |

TOTAL | 2,254 |

Housework

Question 7, “Do you regularly do housework” was answered positively by 939 children, 41.3% of the sample. Of these over half did housework regularly in the evenings. Table 20 gives the distribution of the numbers doing housework by hours up. The proportions in the totals, however, are not strictly comparable as the sex and age composition for each group is different. (Table 20)