2 OCTOBER 1942, Page 2

Absenteeism in Collieries

So much guess-work has been indulged in regarding the causes of coal shortage, that it is a relief to be brought down to the harxl ground of guaranteed statistics, as we are by the figures now made public by the Kent Coal Owners' Association. There is no reason to suppose that the habits of its workers differ materially from those of other coal areas. The figures show that, taking coal-getters only, more than two-thirds of the time lost is due to purely voluntary absenteeism, the percentage lost through it being no less- than r6.5 of the whole workable time. They show further, that of all the coal-getters employed, 48.7 per cent. work full time, if not prevented by sickness or accident, and 51.3 do not ; the latter figure being made up of 30.1 per cent, who lose one shift a week, 13.4 per cent. who lose two, and no less than 7.8 per cent. who lose three or more. The nature of this absenteeism is plainly indicated by the days of the week on which it occurs: Monday shows the largest figure (more than double Wednesday's), with Saturday's second and Friday's third. Lastly, analysis by age-groups shows that the highest rate of absenteeism is for men under thirty, and the lowest for men over ao ; it is the wantonness of youth, not the infirmity of age, that keeps most absentees away. The completeness of the whole picture leaves no room for doubt as to what is the immediate cause of coal-shortage. But how are you to deal with it? The worst offenders are young- men, passing through a phase of high-spirited selfishness. Exactly the same phenomenon occurred in the last war ; the higher wages rose in the pits, the more absenteeism rose with them. The remedy then applied was to bring back men from the Forces ; and that is still probably the best way (indeed, almost the only one) to solve the immediate shortage.