Steam-wagon Works and the Training of Additional Drivers.
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The shortage of steam-wagon drivers is likely to continue for some months to come, unless arrangements ue made for training new men at the various works which produce this type of vehicle. The position has arisen, as we have previously pointed out, through the calling of Reservists and other men to the Colours. These transfers of labour, in conjunction with the non-use for military purposes, °then than by hire through contractors, of steam wagons in connection with the present international war, have
upset all earlier calculations. Numbers of steamwagon drivers have been taken, although without reference to the employment which they were following, without a corresponding drain of vehicles. That is the simple explanation.
We hope that steam-wagon makers will realize the siteation. The existence of a special plan, on the part of one member of the industry, is already notified to us, but not without a reservation in respect of
publicity. We are none the less permitted to announce that a certain number of men have been " told off "for training, in order that this maker's customers may not find themselves incommoded when delivery dates come round. We believe that the intention in this case is to rely solely upon local men, and to some extent upon men who are already employed about the works, but not every maker may be in the position to fiuel enough men that way for training. They may have to draw upon other sources of supply. If any such training scheme, which may not, have to extend to a period longer than ore month, begins to fail because of a lack of men offering locally, we have no doubt that suitable announcements in connection with our " Employment Exchange" will bring about a sufficiency of applications.
We strongly commend the idea of the regularized training of fresh drivers to all steam wagon makers in the country, having regard to the extra demand for that type of machine to which we confidently heck ferward. Orders in hand at the moment will cause furthei difficulties, and will accentuate the shortage which we have already noted. Makers might with advantage to themselves take steps to maintain a minimum number of men going through such train
ing as they may judge to apply to respective output. If that course does notsuit particillar arrangements, or is contrary to any maker's own views of the situation, we urge the expediency of sending rotational intimations to customers, at least a month. ahead of the likely delivery date, drawing attention to .the fact that a dearth of drivers has for the time being arisen, and suggesting to the customer that he should find and send a man to be trained.
Mid-week Slackness of Laundry Vans.
One of the many common incidents of the pas, which have to-day become invested with an unusual degree of importance, is the slackness of oecupatioa for certain trade matorvans on certain days of the week. We may take the particular case of motocvans which are owned and worked by laundries. Numbers of these vehicles have little or nothing to do on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and a very considerable waste of potential value is the cons:.quance. Prompted by the publicity which has been given to the working of our " Freight Exchange " since it was established on the 8th inst., several laundry proprietors have appreciated the alternatives which are now available ; no longer do their motorvans stand practically idle on Wednesdays and Thursdays. A typical letter, from a well-known laundry in Kent, includes the following :--" We shall be glad to endeavour to assist anyone inquiring in this neigi.bourlaiod on Wednesday or Thursday of any week. We have four vans at present running, of a capacity of four tons, two tons, two tons, ad one ton, respectively, and they are all fitted with box-van bodies. We have offered our services to firms in the neighbourhood, whilst we are also carrying fruit and Inal'ket produce to market for the farmers bete." We believe that those who are responsible for the conduct of certain laundry businesses, and with whom we have exchanged correspondence on this subject, are by no means alone in their preparedness both to help other members of the trading community, and incidentally to make a reasonable profit, whilst at tha same time keeping their men and plant more fulle occupied. We believe, too, that the laundry trade ;5; only typical of others, although the particular days of the week upon which activity or slackness is the rule may not he the same as in that trade.
The fuller utilization of such facilities avowedly in some cases due to the existence of our "Freight Exchange," might very well be extended, in numerous centres and districts, by direct communication between likely parties. We hope, DOW that the germ of the idea is sown to practical effect, there will be a multiplication of personal efforts to reduce wastage of capacity, and to improve the transport position of those traders who happen to be baAlly placed by reason of the war. For sonic reason or other, be it by happy coincidence or deeper cause, owners in the laundry trade do not appear to have suffered much by impressment of their motor vehicles, although many of them have suffered very heavily through the less of horses. The laundryman who is left with hi motorvan will not wish to help a competitor in hi own industry, apart from the fact that the busy day of both fall together. It is for other trades to loop to their 'interests by having recourse to that help.