To aid the release of men for service in the armed forces, a UK Government scheme permits the employment of enemy prisoners of war for agricultural work. After discussions, the States have decided to not take advantage the nearly 2,000 German POWs presently held in St Ouen’s Bay. As a result, it seems likely that the prisoners will return to the UK for work there.
The late Lieutenant Governor, General Rochfort, offered POW labour to the Agricultural Committee for use on local farms some weeks back. The Attorney General has now confirmed to Rochfort’s successor, General Wilson, that the States do not wish to take up the offer. The sticking point is a matter of pay. Under the terms of The Hague Convention, prisoners of war must be paid for any work they are made to do, at a rate comparable to that given to existing workers. The response of Jersey farmers was to request a reduced rate – something the UK Government refused to accept. The position of the States is that it has no money available to pay for POW labour, although that situation may change in the future.
A/E/5 contains correspondence from 1916 and 1917 relating to the employment of POW labour in Jersey.