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A Re-View of "Full Employment"

on Tuesday, 01 November 1955. Posted in Societal debates, Statistics

"Sir — A recent visit to Devonport led me to recall how in the nineties I served as 'mate' to an elderly shipwright. Then I learned that a warship was simply built by the two of us, plus a labour squad with drillers, rivetters and caulkers and with the use of simple machines.

"Later in life my work for merchant ships helped me to realize that some 34 trades were engaged, and that to prevent 'poaching' a large book of rules, needing a lifetime of study, was laid down as rigidly as the Iron Curtain. This 'demarcation', meant to keep certain jobs for certain men, adds approximately 50 per cent to the cost of a ship."

— From a letter by Sir Westcott Abel in The Sunday Times (England).

*  *  *

"A number of years ago the founders of the Lincoln Electric Company — today the largest manufacturer of arc welding equipment in the world — devised a plan for compensating their employees... Fearing unionization of the plant, the company's founders divided yearly earnings into three parts... The third part was divided among all the workers on the basis of what each had individually contributed to increasing efficiency in that plant.

"Instead of traditional union rules which held back the man who wanted to work and use his head, the Lincoln Company offered a reward at the end of each year for every employee who had improved his work output or who had originated some new plan for cutting red tape or making the plant's operations more productive. Hours of work were strictly limited to a humane day's work, but within this framework (which included stimulative vacations) every worker was encouraged to put forth the best effort he could as an individual. The result was that Lincoln Electric workers earned such high pay that no union could get even a foothold in the company's plants.

"... the productivity of the Lincoln Electric Company's workers is nearly four times the normal rate for the arc welding industry as a whole."

— Human Events, Washington, D.C.

*  *  *

"The American Sugar Refining Company reduced their labour force 50 per cent by installing automatic packing and handling plant.

"A Steel plant reduced the number of men loading pig-iron from 128 to 2. — 1936.

- "In the Austin Motor works the ratio of labour required per car manufactured in 1922 compared with 1934 was 55 to 8!

"Automobile production in 1933 increased 32 per cent over the previous year, while employment in motor vehicle factories decreased 16 per cent.

"Naturally the manufacture of all this automatic machinery now in use, gave employment while it was being turned out in large quantities. When made, however, it lasts far too long to give much permanent employment in its replacement production.

"It is only people ignorant of what machinery can do who suggest that machines create more human labour than they remove."

"Prior to 1948: Four thousand men, equipped with modern machinery, can produce the wheat that America eats.

"Five hundred men, with an ultra-modern boot plant, can provide England's footwear.

"The 'Daily Express' described an invention which enables a shoe firm to manufacture 10,000 pairs of shoes a week with only four men and one or two operators for odd jobs."

-The Social Crediter (England).

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