D. CRYAN tells of an
experiment at Tallaght
ECAUSE of the anguish o f seething industrial unrest, one comes with all the greater gladness -on instances of Christian fraternity in industry. In the factory of C. & R. Barnes in the windswept district of Tallaght, Co. Dublin, 160 workers go about their daily tasks in conditions of tranquil industrial harmony.
Until 1950 there was little to distinguish this factory engaged in the manufacture of Orchid ladies' underwear and Glen Abbey men's knitwear from any other factory of its type. Then, at a meeting in the factory on May 17 of that year the workers were told of what was in effect a new deal in industry. They were invited to become "co-partners in industry." The brother-owners-Rory and Colm Barnes-having given much thought to the co-partnership scheme practised in England by Messrs. Taylors, of Batley, had decided to apply similar principles to their factory at Tallaght.
Due to workers FROM the workers' point of view, the new scheme had much to recommend it-not the least, of course, being the profit-sharing principle.
After the setting up of a workers' council for the settlement of all matters of employeremployee relationship, the details of the profit-sharing w ere announced.
Prior to this, however, the
owner-brothers stressed that the profit-sharing did not represent alnis-giving, did not represent paternalism, did not represent a cover-up for inadequate wages. It represented something due to the workers as employees in industry over and above their weekly wage. It amounted, in the mind of the brothers, almost to a right-a right in social justice. And in this factory in Tallaght that May evening, was put into effect the wish of Pope Pius XI when he said: "We deem it advisable that the wages contract should be modified somewhat by a contract of profit-sharing . . . In this way, wage earners and other employees participate in the ownership or the management, or in some way share in the profits." Distributed amongst the workers that first year was the sum of f1,350, of which each worker received a sum in accordance with his or her earnings for the year. For every year an employee was with the firm, an additional 2+ per cent. was added to his earnings, the greatest that could be added being 25 per cent.
Shares and cash AT that meeting too the workers were given the opportunity of investing in the firm at the very attractive interest rate of 6 per cent. This could be done by taking one's portion of 11111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111111 The exalted and the humble THE dinner of the Civil Service Catholic Guild in London on Saturday was a very impressive affair. Sitting myself at the high table, as a guest of the Grand Master, Sir Desmond Morton, K.C.B., my eyes (unaccustomed to such dignities) kept roving to members, some of them very highly placed indeed in the country's administration, sitting in the many lower-placed seats. It was not so much a case of the Gospel moral of "the humble being exalted and ,the exalted being humbled," as of the humility of the exalted and the wonder of the ordinary citizen finding himself raised to a status to which he could have no claim. The chief guest was Mgr. David Cashman, Secretary to the Apostolic Delegation, and he too confessed that he was much more accustomed to hearing speeches from the exalted than to speaking himself. But the general mix-up of normal precedences lent a most happy Catholic atmosphere to the occasion for we were there as fellow Christians, not as potential criminals in the face of directors of public prosecutions, or taxpayers in the face of Treasury officials.
Sir Desmond Morton THE meeting, however, had its sorrowful aspect in the news of the retirement of Sir Desmond Morton as Grand Master. Sir Desmond who was Personal Assistant to the Prime Minister during the war and who has held many other very high posts at home and abroad (apart from having been a Treasury Under Secretary) now devotes much of his time to what might be called valuable help behind the scenes to Catholic and other enterprises. There is a limit to what time will allow of such jobs, and the Grand Mastership lies open to some distinguished successor. The Guild is a strong body, with about 2,500 members and over 20 branches through the country, and as speakers noted during the speeches there is a certain parallel between the dedication of the Clergy to the things of God and the dedication of Catholic Civil Servants to the things of Cesar within the law of God. Keeping the wheels turning sweetly, whether in Church or State, is not always a thankful job, but it is a very necessary one, demanding rare qualities of absolute dedication, incorruptibility and refusing to ride one's own ideological and political hobby-horses and saving the people from the errors of those who more easily get into the headlines.
the share-out in the form of workers' shares, or one could have part cash, part shares.
Lately, however, the system has undergone the slight alteration of requiring the worker to invest half of his profit-share due in the business, at unchanged rate of interest.
After taxation and salaries had been taken care of, the remainder -reserve and profit-share allocation-was divided into 60 per cent. reserves and 40 per cent. profitshare. The owners claimed in support of this allocation that a reasonably large apportion to the reserve fund was a necessity, for it bore losses and provided for expansion.
The sales rose
AFTER the first year under the changed scheme it was found that sales had risen by 48.7 per cent. and that the number employed had also risen.
Graphs showing the progressive trend made their appearance in the factory's departments. The jump in profits bore out eloquently the contention of the Barnes's that "co-partnership is a powerful incentive to workers. Output goes up and production benefits."
Here in this fine factory, the workers have been given the opportunity to share in the prosperity that they are in part instrumental in creating; an opportunity to know more of the affairs of the company, and a partnership with capital and management. All of which confer on the worker an adequate sense of the dignity of his position in industry.
HE question is asked: T
"What is the position when there is no profit on the year's trading or when there is an actual loss?"
The answer is that the reserve fund is there to sustain losses. The history of co-partnership is one of gain rather than loss. No employer
Mr. Rory Barnes has a tale to tell of a scheme of co-partnership similar to that in operation in his own factory, and it is an encouraging one. The employees, faced with the prospects of a certain loss on the year's trading, decided to work overtime for as long as circumstances demanded-but without pay.
This is a fine example of the spirit that prevails in places where the ideals of co-partnership are faithfully adhered to on both sides -for "Capital and Labour are necessary to each other."
The attitude of the brothers towards trade unions is, as one might expect, one of close co-operation. All the workers in the factory are urged to join a union and are encouraged to become loyal and steadfast members.
'Family personality ACRUCIFIX in every department of the factory adds wonderfully to the general atmosphere of fraternalism under Christian inspiration. The workers sing at their jobs.
During Mary's Year, special homage is being paid to Our Lady. An altar has been erected in the factory to her who is the Mother of Workers. On Church holy days the factory is closed.
Ireland has no more fervent advocates of the "co-partnership in industry" ideal than these two brothers. They recommend it to all employers and proclaim its merits in articles and lectures.
They know the problems of the scheme, too, and are full of sympathy for those employers who, though aware of the worth of the scheme, are full of misgivings. The aim of the Barnes brothers is to give to the worker the sense of "belongiri; in the firm." They have askfd: "Is it too much to expect that a family personality be given to a commercial or industrial group?"
"This family concept of the group," they say, "would confer on the worker a sense of security and breathe a certain warmth of human feeling which is not contrary to the maintenance of discipline but rather a recognising of the dignity of the individual."