Ashburton Guardian Magna est Veritas et Prævalebit. MONDAY, FEBRUARY 16, 1914. DECLINE OF EFFICIENCY.
That was a remarkable complaint which the Chairman of the Great Eastern , ( Railway Comp?lKy (Lord Claud ' Hamilton) voiced at a meeting of the con> ; pany on Friday last, as announced 'by cable on Saturday, that there was a dearth of young men in England competent to fill the position of General Manager of the company, and that a qualified man had to be imported from America. There was not the same excuse for this apparent lack of specialised talent as was said to be the case when the NewZealand' Government needed a manager, for it's railways, for in Great Britain .there are a number of very important ! railway companies/offering opportunities for thousands of men to learn the alpha and omega of the business; while in New Zealand there is only the State railway, with very ' limited scope for those aspiring to, the few. plums of the, service.; That is ,not to say that there were: not at least one or two' officials in the New Zealand Railway Department capable of carrying out the duties of General Manager.. But it seemed to be accepted as a fact that none were competent, and that the. Department was badly in need of the new methods that an imported man ,^p\ild. b§ ableyto introau.ee. Fur these new ideas the Government is paying a very big price; but if they materialise, to the benefit of the travelling and business, public the_ experiment in high salaries will have been worth while. The question, however, that is raised by the facts recorded above is : Is a the duty of the State to its employees fulfilled when it hands out to them their pay-envelopes at the end of each month.? Not so many years ago—before the advent of the Arbitration Court effected a divorce in the 'community of interest: that existed between employer and employee, and the obligations imposed on both parties to an apprenticeship contract were something more than a mere business arrangement—private employers took their responsibilities more seriously than is permitted them to do to-day. There was then, in addition to the written contract, an unwritten law enjoining on the employer the mutual advantage of a sympathetic interest in the progress of his employees, y Nowadays the Unions have taken upon themselves the responsibility of watching over the interests of the ( workers, but, beyond seeing that a minimum number of hours are worked for a, maximum amount, of pay, the f:i;liange of supervision Ms | not . been beneficial, in tiiey best j sense of the word,.for either the masters or the men. iTo a great extent, that seems to,..be tlie.j reason why the proportion of those ,who excel in, all departments of, their avocation —who become the "experts" that the world, will-always find a place for —is considerably less , to-dajy taking ,into. consideration the increased number of workers in every kind of business, than it was a quarter of a century ago. Of course, the extraordinary talent that is capable of reaching out to the whole field of knowledge, and oi' drawing it and utilising it from all quarters, does not need special attention, or what old-fashioned people will term the "coddling " supervision of employers. That kind of intellect and talent will always be able to take care of itself. But the interest and help thai enables the good, all-round workman to climb to the top of his business is necessary for the average employee, and nearly everyone comes within that classification. In these clays, with the vast extension of human knowledge, there is more information available than anybody can absorb. It would therefore seem to be the
business of the State, especially, to give its employees something more than its blessing when they enter its employ, and to # make a point of seeing" that it is somebody's business in every department of the Public Service to give them a sound training in their special department Otherwise there will come either the necessity oi instituting; a general scheme of importing foreigngrown experts to teach us how to run Departments of State, or .of continuing their administration by officials obviously not. fully qualified to do so.