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Rebuilding Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 167 pages of information about Rebuilding Britain.
keeps steadily at work through the normal hours.  As long as such conditions exist we shall not have the shorter hours which are necessary for healthy and happy life, and we shall have the friction and irritation which arise from too long hours of work.  A higher rate of wages during shorter hours of work, when the work is done with vigour and efficiency, and the certainty that the wage will be increased if results are favourable, are necessary conditions for industrial welfare and industrial peace.  The wage system should be so designed as to make it clear that the wage is a share in the industry’s earnings which is to advance as these earnings advance.  A “regulated slide of wages rising with the prosperity of the industry as a whole” would help to secure this without friction.  Methods of industrial remuneration giving an assurance of thus sharing the benefit of increased or more economical production are required.  A valuable work on such methods, which are already very various, was published by the late Mr. David Schloss many years ago.  New methods will, no doubt, be found.  The problem, however, is one for judicial treatment by those who have devoted special study to it.

The methods already tried include the more general adoption of piece-wage, progressive wage arranged in various ways giving a fixed rate for the hours worked plus an additional sum proportionate to the excess of output over a fixed standard, collective piece-work, contract work, co-operative work, sub-contract, profit-sharing in various forms including special bonus, product-sharing, and industrial co-operation.

Each method should be considered on its merits, in the light of the experience already gained, and having regard to its applicability to each class of industry.  The aim and the principles which must guide endeavours to achieve it are clearly stated by Mr. Schloss: 

“But while a reduction of hours of labour, say to eight hours in the day, may readily be admitted to be on grounds both economic or social highly desirable, yet it is no less desirable that during those eight hours every working man in the country shall use his best available tools and machinery, and, performing as much labour as he can perform without exerting himself to an extent prejudicial to his health or inconsistent with his reasonable comfort, produce an output as large as possible.  In the interest of the people as a whole it is expedient that the remuneration of the labour of the industrial classes shall be increased, and since this remuneration is paid out of the national income, it is a matter of great importance not only that the working classes shall succeed in obtaining for themselves a far ampler share in the national income than they at present receive, but also that the productive powers of the working classes shall be exercised in a manner calculated to secure that this income shall be of the largest possible dimensions.”

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