The “Hustling” Process

“The prime purpose of bonus systems as applied to factories is to speed up production.”

The above is an outstanding sentence from an article in a back number of “The Organiser,” a magazine which is published with the object of introducing the most up-to-date methods of exploiting the workers. These methods, needless to say, are shaped to win the approval of workers directly concerned, consequently ensuring a greater measure of success from the capitalist point of view.

The article indicates clearly that the theory of the bonus system is much the same as that of the “high wages” system. It is that it is more economical, and therefore more profitable, to employ highly skilled, intensive labour at a comparatively high rate of wages than slack, low-skilled labour at a comparatively low rate. Therefore it is essential that the bonus system should have a “voluntary” foundation.

The worker can try for the bonus or not, just as he pleases. If he is unwilling or unable to earn the extra money that is his affair, though “the manager would, no doubt, try to weed out such men as occasion offered, in favour of more energetic workers.”

Mark it well, although the system is voluntary, if you do not go for that bonus, which is placed so temptingly before you, you will be “weeded out.”

The intention of the employers is that the worker shall try for the bonus, otherwise the system is a failure from his point of view.

When dealing with the Bethleham Steel Co., U.S.A., the writer mentions that with the increased output due to the greater efficiency that has resulted from the introduction of the bonus system, the market is more easily flooded, and eventually the bonus-hunting worker has to seek fresh fields in which to pursue the elusive “bonus.” In other words, he has to look for another job. Thus we see that this system, worked on an extensive scale, can only result in swelling the ranks of the unemployed—which, in turn, would have a tendency to depreciate wages—in which, after all, bonuses are included.

“The foreman received a bonus on each bonus-earning man in his shop, and a considerably increased bonus (half as much again) if all the men were receiving bonuses—a clever device which ensured that the foreman should interest himself in educating up the less skillful men to a high standard, so that there should be no slackers … so that they worked with a will without wasting time.”

It is evident from the foregoing quotations that the employer is not giving something for nothing. If your wages are increased by from one to five per cent. by the bonus system, you may depend upon it that it is conditional upon you increasing your output considerably beyond that point.

Fellow workers, we call upon you to seriously consider your position and avoid the blind alleys into which the capitalists and their henchmen would turn you. We ask you to study the principles advocated by the Socialist Party, and (if you agree with them) to join us, so that the workers, thus organised, will be able to take control, through their political power, of the means by which they live, and relegate the queer and useless pastime of bonus-hunting to the limbo of the past.

A. J. G.

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