Payment of Wages through the Bank.
The Chairman (Councillor Appleby) and the General Manager had an interview on the 24th January 1924 with Messrs. Cadbury Brothers Ltd., and subsequently attended a meeting of their Works Council to consider this question. A visit has also been paid to Fort Sunlight to look into the system in operation at the works of Messrs. Lever Brothers.
It was understood that a scheme should be drafted and laid before the Works Council for further consideration, and this has been done. A copy of such scheme is attached to this Report.
The Works Council considered this scheme on the 26th September last, and a resolution was carried that the scheme should be tried for a period of six months on certain conditions set forth below; and a Sub-Committee of the Works Council was appointed to go further into details. The Sub-Committee met and the following decisions were arrived at:-
1 That the scheme be tried for six months.
2 That it be a voluntary scheme, and any employee be at liberty to take part in it or not, as they pleased.
3 That any employee agreeing to take part in the scheme should be at liberty to revert to the present practice of paying wages at the end of the six months' period, or any time within such period of six months.
4 That the scheme be applicable to all the employees, and not to any particular department.
5 That it be understood that those taking part in the scheme should not be at any disadvantage financially with those who receive additional interest from the Firm in the Bournville Works Branch.
6 That the scheme should be applicable to all Branches of the Municipal Bank, and not to a selected number only.
7 That as the bulk of employees would use the Stirchley, Selly Oak, or Bournville Works Branches, these three Branches should open for this purpose every Friday from 12.30pm to 8pm.
The Chairman gave particulars of the proposals and explained that under the Scheme any workman who so desired could have his wages paid to his credit at any Branch of the Municipal Bank, which would in many cases be a convenience and an encouragement to thrift.
The Chairman stated that, in his opinion, the Scheme was one which should be given a trial and submitted a letter from the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain giving his views on the matter and supporting the proposed scheme.
After discussion of the proposals it was –
RESOLVED That the matter be referred to the General Purposes Sub-Committee to further consider the proposed scheme and the possibility of its adoption under the existing powers of the Bank.
The General Manager reported to the meeting that formal application had now been received from the Bournville Works Council, who had intimated that they were desirous of the scheme being adopted by the Joint Stock Banks in the City, in addition to the branches of the Municipal Bank. The Sub-Committee decided to hold a special meeting a few days later to consider the question of the proposed scheme being adopted.
That Special Meeting of the General Purposes Sub-Committee was held on December 12th 1924, and the minutes recorded that:
The Sub-Committee proceeded to again consider the proposed Scheme in connection with the Bournville Works for the payment of wages into the Bank.
The Town Clerk stated that he had now had an opportunity of giving a considered opinion on the question of whether the existing powers of the Bank would be sufficient to enable a Scheme in the nature proposed to be adopted, and he stated that in view of the fact that under the Scheme an employee would voluntarily sign an authority for his wages to be paid into the bank and would virtually become an ordinary depositor in the Bank, the proposals would seem to be within the scope of the regulations. It would, therefore, appear to be a matter of policy for the Committee to decide as to whether the scheme should be adopted.
The General Manager submitted the following communication which he had received from the Bournville Works Council relating to the matter:-
Bournville Works Mens’ and Womens’ Councils.
4th November 1924
Mr J P Hilton,
Birmingham Municipal Bank,
Dear Mr. Hilton,
Payment of Wages through Banks.
Kindly note that the Men's and Women's Councils have been authorised by our Board to take the necessary steps to arrange with the Wages Office for payment of wages for a period of one year through banks in the case of employees who desire to avail themselves of this arrangement. The Firm extend in the case of all accounts of employees (other than Management Staff) with any bank to which accounts wages are paid direct by the Firm, the scheme for supplementing interest on deposits up to a certain amount as at present exists in the case of the Saving Scheme for deposits at the Bournville Works Branch of the Municipal Bank.
As you know, the discussions which have been taking place up to the present had only in mind an arrangement with the Birmingham Municipal Bank, but you will notice that the effect of the Board's decision is to extend the scope of the idea to other banks.
We thought you would like to know of this decision and to be aware that we are approaching other Birmingham banks with a view to the scheme being put into operation.
For The Bournville Works Men's & Women's Councils.
(Signed) C. N. Harris. A. Bradbeer.
On discussion of the proposals, the Chairman submitted a letter from the Right Hon. Neville Chamberlain containing his views on the question, and generally supporting the scheme.
After careful consideration the Sub-Committee came to the conclusion that it would be desirable to give the Scheme a trial for a period of twelve months, on the understanding that not more than 2,000 accounts were dealt with, and that the scheme should apply to all Daily Branches.
It was, therefore –
RESOLVED:- That the General Committee be recommended to authorise this Sub-Committee to settle with the Bournville Works Councils the details of the Scheme for the payment of wages into the Bank on the lines above indicated and to make the necessary arrangements.
The members of the General Committee were divided as to whether the scheme should be authorised. When the General Purposes Sub-Committee met on January 12th 1925, they received the following communication from the General Committee:
On discussion of the question of the scheme for the payment of wages into the Bank, it was, with five dissentients -
RESOLVED:- That the General Purposes Sub-Committee be authorised to settle with the Bournville Works Council the details of the scheme for the payment of wages into the Bank, on the lines indicated in the foregoing report; also to make the necessary arrangements for carrying the scheme into effect for a period of 12 months.
The General Purposes Sub-Committee therefore proceeded to make the necessary arrangements, and at their meeting on February 9th 1925 the General Manager reported that:
he had received a communication from the Bournville Works Council suggesting that they should be authorised to say, in placing the scheme before their workers, that the Bournville Works, Selly Oak and Stirchley Branches should be opened on Fridays from 12-30 to 8pm.
The Sub-Committee gave careful consideration to the matter, and considered that a trial might be given to opening Selly Oak and Stirchley Branches on Fridays from 5-0pm to 7-30pm, in addition to the present fixed hours of opening. The hours of business of the Bournville Works Branch were a matter for the firms. They were of opinion that the experiment would, in addition to the assistance given in carrying out the Bournville scheme, be of value to ascertaining whether Friday evening was more suitable to depositors than Saturday or Monday evenings.
RESOLVED:- That the General Committee be recommended to authorise the General Manager to inform the Bournville Works Council of the proposal to open the three branches, as indicated, and if such additional hours of opening are ultimately agreed, the General Manager be instructed to inform the depositors at the Selly Oak and Stirchley branches accordingly.
At the General Purposes Sub-Committee held on April 6th 1925 the General Manager was able to inform the meeting that the Bournville Works Council had intimated that they had now prepared a leaflet explaining the proposals, for distribution to their workpeople, but the result of such distribution was not yet known. At the same meeting the Sub-Committee also considered the concurrent subject of the Bank's Hours of Business; the two topics being linked due to the possibility of amending the opening hours at Selly Oak and Stirchley branches to accommodate the Bournville Works Scheme.
However, the number of Cadbury employees wishing to participate in the scheme was low - by late 1925 only 109 workers had agreed to have their wages paid into accounts at Bournville Works branch. In view of this small response to the scheme it was decided not to arrange for special openings on Friday evenings at Selly Oak and Stirchley branches.
After a six-month trial period the General Manager submitted the following report to the General Purposes Sub-Committee on July 12th 1926:
Payment of Wages through the Bank.
Messrs Cadbury Bros.
The Scheme which was sanctioned in December 1924 as an experiment, came into operation in January last. It was understood that the experiment should be tried for six months.
Messrs Cadbury Bros. circularised the Scheme amongst their employees, who number over 10,000, but it was only taken up by 103 people, of whom 50 are non-manuals and 53 manuals. Of these 103 cases 81 have been dealt with at the Bournville Works Branch, and 22 at 8 of our ordinary Branches.
An analysis of the 22 accounts has been made which shows that after the 18th June there had been 305 deposits and 303 withdrawals, and that the balance of the depositors accounts in these particular cases shows an increase of £91. 16. -d in the six months. Some of the accounts indicate the enormous amount of work for no return, as for example, in one case a balance of 2/2d is turned into £1. 2. 3d after 40 transactions, and in another case a balance of 1/-d is turned into £1. 12. 8d after 36 transactions.
The Scheme is not one which can be recommended to be dealt with at ordinary branches of the Bank, it interferes with the ordinary method of deposit and withdrawal, and inconveniences the depositors, while it is more costly to work than the usual system.
With regard to the Scheme at Bournville Works Branch, the Firm have prepared a Statement up to the 23rd April, showing that the balance had increased to the extent of £500. 15. 3d. The actual advantage to the depositors and the Bank in this matter is extremely difficult to assess because the employees at the Bournville Works Branch have a habit of making large withdrawals at certain periods, which do not appear to come during the period under review, so that in the short space of three months which the figures cover, it is rather difficult to find out the position. The General Manager understands that the Firm would be sorry if the Scheme were discontinued, particularly as regards the Bournville Works Branch, but there can be little, if any, justification for allowing the Scheme to apply to outside Branches. It is therefore suggested that so far as the 22 cases are concerned the Scheme should cease, and that these depositors, if they desire to continue the Scheme, should do so through the Bournville Works Branch. As regards the Bournville Works Branch, it is further suggested that at the end of that time a report should be presented to the Committee so that they may decide whether or not the Scheme shall continue.
It was decided to discontinue operating the scheme through the ordinary branches of the Bank, but that the arrangements at Bournville Works branch should continue on a trial basis to the end of the year. Consequently, the General Manager submitted the following report to the Finance Sub-Committee on December 12th 1927:
Payment of Wages through the Bank.
In July 1926 the Committee decided to sanction the Bournville Works Branch being used by employee-depositors for the purpose of having their wages paid direct into their accounts, such sanction to run to the end of the year.
At the time the matter was considered the returns were available for the year ended 31st March 1926, and showed that 81 employees were taking up the scheme. The amount deposited totalled £168,425. 15. 6d., and the amount withdrawn £157,437. -. 3d., leaving a net gain of £500. 15. 3d. There had been 73,544 deposits and 20,701 withdrawals. In 14 cases the detailed list showed that the account at the end of the period was lower than at the beginning.
Details have now been furnished by Messrs. Cadbury Brothers, showing that 61 men and 27 women (total 88) are now in the scheme, and that the increases in the balances of the individual accounts up to the 9th October 1927 total £696. 6. 9d.
Mr Jones of Cadbury Brothers, and Mr King, in charge of the Bournville Works Branch, recommend the continuance of the scheme, the former stating the business can be dealt with quite easily, and that they would not like to revert to direct payment of wages in these cases, and the latter stating that the employees concerned appreciate the privilege.
Although the experiment has proved our views that the scheme would never be popular, I see no reason why it should not be continued so long as it is confined to Bournville Works Branch.
The General Manager's recommendation being accepted, the payment of wages direct to the accounts of Cadbury employees (at Bournville Works branch only) continued and was the precursor to what was to eventually become the common method for the payment of salaries and wages.