Observer, Volume XL, Issue 30, 27 March 1920, Page 3
IF it is true that 1,300,000 British Trade Unionists are anxious to be paid by results, it is the beginning of a distinctly new phase of industrial life. Hitherto the whole body of unionists have been willing to concede that an inefficient worker shall be paid at the same rate as the efficient worker, and have defended this principle when employers have "sacked" an inefficient by "stop-work"—in other wiords, by striking. * » • If the enlightened one million three hundred thousand workers have at last come to the conclusion that they can't carry the loafer, the inefficient, and the "agitator" on their backs, several things will happen, but the most important thing of all will be that the loafer will have to "get a wriggle on," and do his job efficiently, if he wants to make a living wage. * « ■ Payment by results is the only just and equitable method. You pay the grocer by results ; — you don't hand him up the price of two pounds of rice for one pound of rice. To standardise wages so that the worst worker is paid equally with the best is economic confusion, resulting in large numbers of cases in the efficient man becoming inefficient. He justly reasons that his best Work produces only the minimum wage on pay-day—so why produce the best results? * • . • The narrow-minded may see in this proposition to pay the best workers handsomely, and the poor workers poorly," a sinister lattempt to reduce all wages but the great body of unified labour will itself be the judge of the skill and quantity of the individual's output. It is the cry of the* efficient against inefficiency. * * * Payment by results connotes a new era of enterprise of emulation. The man who by sheer cleverness and skill is able to earn double the wages of a man with no cleverness and skill will induce envy, and therefore skill in the lesser paid man. * • * '- • The war has generated the new idea (it is, in effect, the old idea) of payment by results.
Most Government war. work was "piece-work." The expert and industrious made large wages; the inexpert and loafing made poor wages.
The expert and industrious, now the'war is over, will not consent to be classified with the loafer, and to earn a loafer's pay. It means, in effect, that a. tradesman must do his job well, or be paid ill, at the ruling of his own class. He will be no longer a "passenger." The bulk of wages paid on "payment by results"-will be much larger, because the output will be larger; the stimulus of increased money for increased production being the reason.
The payment by results idea will eliminate much friction, stimulate skill and enterprise from both sides —capitalist and he on whom the capitalist depends. If it is successful it is the funeral and burial of the "get as much as you can for as little as you can give" unionism, and the birth of "get more than you ever had by being paid for all you do."
The idea may even spread to Conservative Zealand, which more than anything needs the stimxilus of competition, not only among employers, but among employees.