By I LA AT the end of last month sonic 40-50 students from Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham. London and Birmingham attended a week-end conference at Birmingham University organised by the Union of Catholic Students to study " Industrial Relations ". The theme running through the whole conference was the necessity of recognising human dignity, of treating men as men and not as pieces of machinery.
It was pointed out that without industrialisation 50 million people could not live in Great Britain. nor could standards of living be raised appreciably in underdeveloped parts of the world. The problem was to find a way of making the type of work involved in industrialisation when large numbers of people were working with expensive inachincry in monotonous and repetitive jobs-consistent with human dignity.
WORKERS wanted certain standards of material prosperity and security. Automation was feared as something which might deprive many of their jobs, but it could also remove much of the monotony and drudgery from work by taking over jobs beneath the capacity of intelligent men. Two of the speakers, Mr. Ciano and Mr. McGlown, stressed the need of co-operation as a basis of industrial relation; Too often. Mr. isifcGlown said. in firms that people outside thought very good
to their workers, there were in fact not good relations but only " paternalism ". Some firms disapproved or their workers acquiring any more knowledge or skill beyond the minimum needed to carry out their job.
ALECTURE on the Young Christian Workers and Industrial Relations, and another on the place of the Graduate in Industry, prompted more discussion as to the necessity of workers deriving satisfaction from their work. 1 feel this is particularly relevant in view of the film that everyone seems to be seeing just now, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning ".
In this rilm Saturday night is shown as the only period when the industrial worker really comes to life, and Sunday morning as the period of hangover from this moment of living.
An interesting point that occurs to me is this: one of the great efforts made to humanise, and hence potentially to Christianise. the life of the industrial worker was by shortening his hours of work. But it seems now that a great number of workers opt to work overtone, so the advantage gained in the interest of leisure has been cancelled out for many by the desire for more money.