1920s >> 1923 >> no-232-december-1923

By the way

When we have pointed out that profit-sharing and bonus schemes introduced by so-called good employers were merely means to increase profit, effect economies, and attempts to subdue the growing unrest of the workers, we have been accused of being impossibilists, carping critics, or agitators actuated by malice. From time to time we have dealt with the boasted benevolence of the Levers’, the Cadburys, and the various co-partners, and now we have further con¬firmation of the correctness of our case from the profit-sharing proposals of Lloyds Bank, Ltd. Discussing these proposals, Mr. J. W. Beaumont Pease, the Chairman of Lloyds, said (Daily Chronicle), October 22, 1923;

“The directors firmly believed the scheme would improve relations between employer and employed and would be all for the good of the shareholders, the directors and the staff.”

To improve relations means, of course, to anticipate the stifling of future discontent, and the recent organisation of bank clerks may have helped the directors toward their latest decision. Further we read :—

“The scheme was not likely to diminish the amount of profit available for the shareholders’ dividend, and it was quite possible it would not cost the bank anything. There was, Mr. Pease added, no question of the loyalty of the staff, but the scheme would increase the zeal with which they worked for the bank, and it would materially increase the profit. It would also lead to economies by the staff keen on increasing the profit. With the large number employed, these economies in the aggregate would mean much.”

Here the plain, brutal truth is revealed. For the staff, harder work and a probable reduction in their number, while for the directors and shareholders the prospect of an “increase of profit” guaranteed through the continued docility of their employees, and, cheapest of cheap philanthropy, “to cost nothing.”

At a time when the Capitalists are incessantly crying out for “more trade,” “greater efficiency,” “reduced costs,” etc., with, of course, the illusionary bait of ”more work ” to appease the swelling numbers of the workless, it is significant to note the effect of these master class desires when put into operation :—

“There has been a saving of £55,000,000 in the wages bill of the railway companies since 1921. . . . Mr. Thomas remarked that, as there was a greater volume of traffic dealt with on the railways with a personnel of 50,000 less, that would obviously indicate more efficiency.”— (Daily Chronicle, 17/11/23.)

Nor is that by any means the final word in economy, for the amalgamated companies propose further improvements by way of automatic signalling, electrical luggage trolleys and conveyors, the elimination of the army of railway ticket punchers, examiners and other officials by improved methods for the issue and cancellation of tickets, etc. Commenting upon these inno¬vations, the same report says :—

“These will be gradually carried out. The introduction of new labour saving and safety devices will mean big reductions in the railway staffs.”—(Daily Chronicle, 24/10/23.)

Could the brutal nature of Capitalism be more plainly revealed than in these few facts.

(Socialist Standard, December 1923)

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