Industry's Silent Revolution
ONE of the most remarkable, but least not iced of the changes which have taken place in the life of our industrial workers has been the growth of joint consultation and the study of human relations in industry. Such matters arc discussed, and applied, at many levels of industry today. It is a far cry from the psychology which made possible the sweat shops of the past—even though there is still room for much improvement.
For those with an interest in the subject the recently published Report of the "Human Relations in Industry Conference" (Stationery Office, 35. 6d.) contains much that is useful, although the discussions were not always as down to earth as one might have wished them to be.
But the truly revolutionary thing is that such a conference is almost taken for granted today.
The organisers were the Ministry of Labour and National Service, and some 400 delegates last March attended the conference from a wide variety of organisations, including the British Employers Federation and the T.U.C., and others which the report describes as "bodies interested in people as workers," hut who with greater meaning might really be said to be "interested in workers as people."
O employers viewed the workers as part of their factory equipment—and the most easily expandable part at that. But as a result of trade union activities and the growth -of an informed public opinion. the emphasis is increasingly on human relations.
rOMMON purpose was the key '—"note of the conference. Here are a few quotes taken more or less at random and from "both sides of industry," from the repo r te d speeches:
"We should develop a mutual confidence between employers and workpeople in British industry, and I think that joint consultation allowed to develop in a natural way can assist very materially in that purpose."
"I do not think that this question is solely one of providing financial incentives. although I think that financial incentives can play a very big part. I think there is a great deal more to be done by way of developing a pride in the individual workman in belonging to a firm which it
self is turning out good products. I think we must bend our efforts to trying to instil into people that sort of pride."
"But whcn the workers had a contribution to make, they should not be checked by being told that they were encroaching on the management's business. Joint consultation could not produce its maximum benefits without seeming to do that. The problem. therefore, was how to dovetail joint consultation into managerial responsibility."
• "The Group concluded that the spirit which should inform joint consultation should be that of reaching a sense of common purpose in the whole undertaking, and it was the responsibility and duty of all concerned to work for this."
"Both management and workpeople must sincerely and confidently believe that the successful running of an enterprise will be assisted by both parties sitting down round a table to discuss some of its problems?'
All this, of course, sounds curiously familiar to Catholics who know their social encyclicals. It is all so much what Pope Leo XIII suggested for workers and employers more than 60 years ago. We still have a long way to go, but here is Something positive on which to work.
A LSO useful for those interested rlin the subject is the recently republished book The Human Touch in Industry (Saint Catherine Press, 16s. fid.), by Francis B. Willmott, a Birmingham industrialist who, as a keen Rotarian, has carried far and with great success the practice of building on eood human relations in his own factories. The book is a record of what he has done and is full of concrete examples.
Here is one of his conclusions: "Latent ability exists in every man, and if every employer would take the trouble of finding this out among his own employees he would be truly amazed and would in consequence find joy and immeasurable reward in seeing that each man is given an opportunity to demonstrate what he can do."
The twain meet
A LONG-PELT need will, I hope, lbe met with the formation in London of a Catholic International Club, catering in particular for coloured and other overseas students.
The Cardinal has given it his approval, a provisional committee. U nder the presidency of Mgr. McClement, will administer it, and it will be launched with a grand dance on October 30 at Chelsea Town Hall. It should, in every sense of the word, be a colourful occasion. Tickets at is. are priced to suit student pockets, but non-students may "cash in" on this.
The aim of the club will be to promote friendship between Catholics of all countries through social functions, by providing, in time, a Catholic International Hostel and social centre and by helping overseas students to find accommodation.
As yet the club has no premises, and so for the time being the Legion of Mary headquarters at 62 Victoria Street, will be largely used.
Into the project has gone a great deal of hard work by the Catholic Committee for Overseas Students and a host of other organisations. Money is needed if its ambitious plans are to be realised. So is the support of London Catholics.
We think this week of the work in the Missions where tremendous sacrifices are being made by men and women who are in the front line. For a long time now an important sector of their work has been weakened by the losses in the rear— here in the university towns of Britain.
Here is a chance to convert a situation in which an important part of the missionaries' work has often been undermined, into one where it is gloriously supplemented and strengthened. The International Club will bring the world's mission fields right into the heart of London.
Tale of a diary
THE appearance of next year's Catholic Diary (price 4s. 6d.) reminds me how, late in 1947, I bought a 1948 Catholic Diary—and that was a minor milestone in my life, for the diary was both a challenge and. for me at that time, an act of faith.
For I was still on the Daily Worker (although I had almost reached breaking point), and I was trying. in my isolation, to link myself with Catholicism in any way open to me.
The diary provided one such link and I can still recapture something of what I felt each time I brought it out in the Daily Worker office.
The latest issue, as always. contains a thought for each day and that tremendously useful little directory of Catholic societies and the addresses of their secretaries.