WORKING CONDITIONS IN BANKS [To the Editor of THE SPECTATOR.]
Sin,—Your interesting comment upon Lord Trent's interest in improving the conditions under which shop girls work makes me sigh for a Lord Trent in the world of banking. I wonder how many of your readers are aware of the new type of female labour which has been created through the mech- anization of our great Banks and of the terrible conditions under which those neatly printed sheets are produced which most of us now receive instead of the old-fashioned passbooks written up by hand ?
For the women who work these machines there is no eight- hour day and no weekly half-holiday. Day in, day out, from half-past eight in the morning till eight at night, they are tied to their machines like modern galley slaVes. The noise is nerve-shattering, the strain on the brain cruel. Let a girl touich the wrong lever just once and all the accumulating figures collapse like the broken mainspring of a watch and whirl back to zero, leaving her with probably an extra hour's work on her hands. These girls leave their banks after a day's work with swimming eyes and reeling brains to seek a night's rest with the clatter of these infernal machines in their ears in mocking preparation for the endless vista of crashing, smashing days which lie before them. I know of one girl who hi now in a mental home after 'a year of this, and I more than suspect that she is not the only victim who has lost her sanity. But the machines are wonderful time- and labour-saving devices, and the Big Banks' must earn big dividends . . • • What should be done? An Act should be passed making it an offence for a bank to keep any woman longer than six months on machine work, or 'to put her on to machine work within six months of having taken her off it. I sincerely hope that this letter may catch the eye of some humane reader with sufficient influence to cause some enquiry to be made into the work and conditions of these unfortunate people.—Yours