« PředchozíPokračovat »
all three cases the opposition comes mainly from the Labour organisations; and the reasons for their opposition deserve the most careful study. They will bring us to the consideration of what is really the fundamental problem in all industrial matters—the relations between employers and employed. In all three cases the worker's grounds of opposition are twofold. There is the material aspect, which relates mainly to rates of pay; and there is the human aspect the status of the worker.
The first and most obvious objection to the introduction of labour-saving machinery arises from the worker's belief, unhappily founded on experience, that its immediate effect is to lower his wages or deprive him of his job. While the ultimate effect may be to lower the price of the article produced and thereby to increase the demand, it remains true in the main that, when a craftsman's job passes to the machine, the value of that special skill which is his sole stock-in-trade is destroyed. Similarly, the abolition of task demarcations (which is the general issue of which Dilution of Labour is a particular instance) is resisted because it tends to destroy the virtual monopoly of the skilled workman and to diminish his bargaining power. The more enlightened skilled workmen recognise that, in view of what the war has taught us with respect to the possibilities of production, craft monopolies can no longer be logically defended, but they ask, not without reason, why they should be expected to forgo the advantages of their present position without receiving adequate compensation for the sacrifice involved. Finally, in regard to scientific management, while it is admitted that very high wages can be paid as a result of job analysis, with time and motion study and the expert control of routine, it is contended that the employer, while paying higher wages, takes care that a much more than proportionate increase is effected in his own profits, so that the ratio of distribution becomes less favourable to Labour.";
In each case, however, the fundamental objection by which the worker is actuated is one which is concerned with something other than wages. It arises from a deep-rooted feeling that the conditions of modern industry have tended to exclude him from all true participation in the purposes of production and all share of
control over its processes. The worker feels that he has become a mere labour unit, to be hired when needed and discharged when no longer wanted, and that his working life represents nothing higher than an item in the cost of production. The opposition to labour-saving machinery is based upon a profound dislike of seeing handicraft replaced by the machine and the craftsman relegated to the position of a machine-minder. The average operator to-day has very little knowledge of the relation of his job to the process of which it is a part; and it is apt to become unbearably meaningless and monotonous. His work becomes something external to himself, a disagreeable necessity in which he finds no opportunity for self-expression or the development of his personal life. The result is not merely lack of interest and slackness in the performance of his job but a very serious impoverishment of the national life. The objection to scientific management is very similar. It is felt that the ultimate result of this minute prescription and supervision of every detail of routine is to reduce the worker to a mindless automaton, performing without variation a cycle of mechanical movements which have little meaning for him and do not lead to increased general efficiency or open the way to a better class of employment.
In both cases there is an undercurrent of resentment and suspicion, arising from the fact that an innovation profoundly affecting his whole working life can be introduced by the employer without consulting his desires and without even explaining to him the reasons for its adoption. In the case of dilution of labour especially, it is felt that an attempt is being made to deprive the worker of any share in the control of his working conditions, and to break up the organisations which he has created for his own defence.
It was as an attempt to obtain for Labour some measure of control over its working life that the Trade Unions were built up. It was largely in reply to the Trade Unions that the great Associations of Employers came into being. We have here two groups of highly organised and powerful bodies, representing the two great parties to Industry (for capital and management may for this purpose be regarded as identical). Their united strength
should render them, in combination, an almost irresistible force in securing whatever measures may be needed to promote the prosperity of the industries which they represent. Their united knowledge of both sides of the industrial process should enable them to solve without much difficulty the internal problems presented by the successive developments of industry. Unfortunately both sides have shown an unhappy readiness to accept the view that the interests of employers and employed are necessarily and essentially hostile. The effect has been felt not merely in the loss caused by strikes and labour disputes, but in the far greater logs caused by continual latent friction and abstention from active cooperation.
This theory of the antagonism between the interests of employers and employed is to a great extent fallacious. While both are naturally desirous of securing as large a share as possible of the wealth produced, they are equally dependent upon the general prosperity of industry as the source of wealth. Every general improvement in the standard of working-class living implies both an increase in productive efficiency and an extended market for the products of industry. Every improvement in the processes of manufacture and distribution which raises the quality or decreases the cost of common commodities is a direct benefit to the working-class consumer. | The interests which both parties have in common are wider and more fundamental than those upon which they are opposed.
This community of interests will be strongly emphasised by the situation after the war. The difficulties of readjustment and the urgent necessity of increased efficiency of production are matters in which employers and employed are alike vitally concerned, both as parties to industry and as members of the community. It is essential, from the point of view of national well-being, that increased efficiency should be sought rather by means of improved organisation and methods and by the elimination of waste and friction, than by adding to the strain on the workers. This result will be impossible without the active cooperation of all parties. If employers and employed can rise to the conception of Industry as a vital element in the national life, for the prosperity of which they are jointly responsible, we Vol. 226.–No. 449,
shall not only solve the problems presented by the postbellum situation, but lay the foundation of a new era in the life of this country.
This conception implies close and continuous cooperation between the organisations representing employers and employed, for carrying into execution a broad constructive policy. In the past they have come together, generally speaking, only when one side had a demand to make of the other, or when a conflict was imminent. They have met, not as members of the industrial community for the consideration of matters affecting its general welfare, but as representatives of opposed interests, prepared to discuss a compromise of competing claims. The result has been not only that they have missed their opportunities of combined action, but that the great powers of organisation and leadership displayed on both sides have been largely diverted from constructive work to the sterile field of controversy.
While the actual conduct of negotiations has often been sympathetic and reasonable, there has been little effort made by either side to appreciate the standpoint of the other, or even to make clear their own. The negotiations have taken the form rather of bargaining than of exchange of views. The workers have made little effort to understand the problems of management ---capital risks, working expenses, establishment and depreciation charges, market conditions, processes of manufacture—and employers have seldom cared to explain to those employed in a business these essential features of its working. On the other hand, employers as a class have a very imperfect understanding of the workers' point of view, the conditions under which they live, and the effect of particular processes and methods of working upon their life and character. Any attempt to make themselves acquainted with these things has too frequently been regarded with suspicion. The result of this imperfect sympathy is seen in innumerable disputes, in which each side feels itself compelled, for the sake of principle and prestige, to put forth efforts altogether disproportionate to the real issues involved. It is seen still more clearly in the sectional outlook and the divorce between industrial and social life which have so gravely retarded our national development.
If the readjustments incidental to demobilisation are to be carried through without friction, if the problem of increasing industrial efficiency to meet our future needs is to be satisfactorily solved, it will be necessary for both employers and employed to recognise the organic unity of Industry. There must be an end both to secrecy and detachment. Proposals put forward by either side, for increasing production, for bettering the condition of the workers, or for improving the status of the industry, must be accompanied by such explanations of the object and effects as one partner in a business' would, as a matter of course, make to another. Proposals so put forward would no longer be met by a deadweight of resistance, but by a frank discussion of their merits or demerits from the standpoint of all concerned, and of modifications or alternatives by which the desired end could be reached without undue sacrifice on either side. Employers must realise that both their own interests and the obligations of citizenship require them to be concerned in every measure for improving the housing, education, social conditions and standard of life of those who work with them. Labour must learn to feel itself directly concerned in the improvement of industrial processes, the elimination of waste, the organisation of industry upon the best possible lines, from the point of view of social progress as well as of productive power. Above all, both employers and employed must learn to regard themselves not as detached or even hostile groups, but as members one with another of that great industrial community which is itself only a phase, though an essential phase, of the national life.
While the basis of common action must be found in agreement between the Trade Unions and the Employers' Federations, it is obvious that some further machinery will be required, to render possible such continuous constructive cooperation as has been suggested. It is unlikely that any one scheme could be devised which would be applicable to all industries. The utmost elasticity, whether in present application or in future development, is necessary to any system of industrial organisation, in order that it may respond to the continually changing needs and circumstances of industry itself. Should the