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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 2, Issue 2 (June 1, 1927)

Production Engineering. — (Part XI.) — Premium Bonus and “Thinking for Ourselves.”

Production Engineering.
(Part XI.)
Premium Bonus and “Thinking for Ourselves.”

Looking over what I have said in past issues of our Magazine I see that I have explained:—

  • 1. What you get out of Premium Bonus—Increased pay without a possibility of decreased pay.

  • 2. What the Railway gets out of it—Decreased costs, only if it operates satisfactorily.

  • 3. How premium rates are set.

  • 4. How the work is recorded and paid for.

Incidentally, I gave you in our January issue, the viewpoint of the President of the American Federation of Labour, which has a great bearing on the subject—even if we do choose to neglect it.

The American's message summed up was, “We think for ourselves.”

While in Australia recently, I found that two railways out of three visited had “payment by results” systems in operation. The evidence showed that the men so employed were satisfied with it, because the management behind the system in each case was “playing fair.”

They are quite evidently “Thinking for themselves.”

In Canada the Canadian Pacific retains the “Payment by results” system, but the Canadian National Railway abandons it, in a detailed sense, in favour of a Co-operative Committee plan, by means of which the Railway gets the same result, by paying the bonus in a different way.

Obviously also they “Think for themselves.”

Now from England comes some sound support—from a Trades Unionist viewpoint too. I am going to extract from the paper before me:—

Direct or indirect advantages to the worker of a system of payment by results are discussed by Mr. W. F. Watson in the “English Review.” Mr. Watson writes from the standpoint of an engineering trades unionist. Engineers have always opposed competitive piecework, but on the advice of their leaders and Mr. Sidney Webb, the Amalgamated Society of Engineers has in England accepted a system of “premium bonus” whereby the fastest worker received the benefit of his extra skill and application.

Mr. Watson quotes Mr. Sidney Webb, the recent Labour President of the Board of Trade, who, in commending this system, roundly condemned both competitive piece—work and payment by the hour. Of payment by time he said “The crude and primitive device of payment by the hour has many drawbacks. It is, when you come to think of it, essentially the method of the slave owner. It is no way secures equal effort, but only equal pay for equal time, a very different thing. It always leads to suspicion, even when not to actual cheating. The employer is never quite sure that he is getting from all the men in the shop a fair amount of energy in return for his wages.

Speaking of the premium bonus agreement, Mr. Webb says, “The Amalgamated Society of Engineers may, in my humble opinion, safely agree with it. The standard time—work rate is fully protected. The danger of future cutting of rates is well guarded against. And, what to my mind is a great advantage to trade unionism in the engineering trade, the system makes a distinct advance in rendering more accurate and scientific the working of the standard rate itself, the securing of equal pay for equal effort.” Mr. Sidney Webb points out the fallacy of the usual objection to any improvement in Labour methods. “The only objection to the Premium Bonus System that I have heard,” he said, “is that it will lead to more work being done in a given time, with the result, as is imagined, of throwing some men out of work. But this is really a gross fallacy. If every member of the A. S. E. turned out 25 per cent. more work and were duly paid for it, this would be to the advantage of all the men, as well as to that of the employers and the whole community. There is no fixed quantity of engineering work to be shared. The demand for machinery of every kind is indefinitely expansible, and grows with every lowering of the price.”

The above speaks for itself. The Englishman is also “Thinking for himself.”

The one outstanding point from the evidence to be seen on all hands, is that modern methods must come, and that no one can expect to get anywhere on ancient ideas, and that to-day we, in New Zealand, must also “Think for ourselves.

Tell the world that you deliver the goods, and you will.

—Sir Charles Higham.

page 39

Unishear Machine.

The value of modern equipment and appliances is graphically shown in the attached photographs depicting the cutting out of a pair of shoulders for boiler fronts on the new “Unishear” machine in comparison with the same operation being done by the old method, using hand shears. This machine is the latest addition to the sheet metal working equipment in the tinsmith's Shop at Hillside.

The “Unishear” is operated by a ¼ h. p. motor having a speed of 1,425 revolutions per minute. The machine is fitted with a miniature pair of blades 1¼ in. long, similar in shape to those on a boilermaker's shearing machine and having the same shearing action. The very high rate of speed at which the machine is driven forces the blade through material up to 14 wire gauge in thickness, in an amazingly short time. Sheet metal can be quickly and easily cut in straight lines, circles or to any desired shape, an outstanding advantage being that the metal is not twisted or buckled in the process and a clean cut edge is obtained.

One photograph shows the old laborious method of cutting out these shoulders with the hand shears and the other photograph shows the same operation being done on the “Unishear” in less than half the time, with little or no effort on the part of the operator.

This machine has also proved most useful in cutting lagging bands, eight fast mild steel sheets being used for this purpose. These are cut into strips of the required width and spot welded together to the required length, the lugs then being spot welded to the ends. This is a considerable advance over the old method of cutting the strips in the Boiler Shop shearing machine, brazing strips together and rivetting lugs to the ends.

Altogether this machine is a valuable modern adjunct to the shop equipment and a wonderful time saver.

The Old and The New.

Using Hand Shears.

Using Hand Shears.

The New “Unishear” Machine.

The New “Unishear” Machine.

Among the Sports.
Railway Hostel Boys have a Good Week.

We came across the following sports programme for one week arranged by the boys of the Railway Hostel. As a sample of an average week's engagements, it shows that in the course of their study of railway business, physical development is receiving among the cadets a full measure of attention. One cadet remarked recently that there was so much “doing” all the time at the Hostel that he found no time to spend his pay! Presumably it is to meet some such difficulty as this that Friday has been left a blank.

Monday: Wrestling.
Tuesday: Harriers.
Wednesday: Boxing finals, 10 points for
Champion. Social evening to follow.
Thursday: Hop, Step and Jump and Putting the Shot.
Friday:
Saturday: A sports meeting will be held at Izard Park, Wadestown, commencing at 2.30 p. m. The following events will be run:—100 yards flat; Relay (teams of four) 400 yards; and 440 yards flat.
page 40