Wage Increases and the Future.
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THE INABILITY of the engineers to establish their claim for yet another increase in wages is perhaps the first sign. of a turn in the tide. One sympathises with men who base their claim for wages increases on the fact that the cost of living has gone up, but it is evident enough that, if this fact only be considered, there can never be an end to the perpetual rises in the cost of living.
There are, of course, many members of the community who have been compelled to recognize long ago that they cannot successfully ask for increases in ,pay equivalent to increases in the cost of living. Were such, rises in wages always obtainable, it would be tantamount to a guarantee that, whatever the condition of trade, nobody shall suffer financially. As a matter of fact, we know that, if trade is bad, the nation, as a whole, must be more or less impoverished, therefore it is necessary, despite the increased cost of living, to set some limit on the increases of wages.
If our manufactured goods cannot be sold at competitive prices, we shall find no market for them at all; without Markets, no profits can be made anti, without profits, no wages can be paid, and this would remain true even if the whole of the profit went to the manual worker. It is, then, a question of whether people will consent to rub along under difficulties for a time despite the high coat of living, or whether they will refuse to do this and involve themselves in certain unemployment in the future.
fligh Wages and Economical Production.
RILE THERE IS a general feeling throughout the engineering industry 'that wages, relatively to the outputrnf the individual, have reached—even if they have not already passed —a point at which the existence of all industry is imperilled, it must be admitted that abnormal labour costs have focussed attention on the economic aspects of production, in a way which nothing else could possibly have done.
It is not to the ultimate advantage of a manufacturing nation that its labour shall be so cheap as to permit inefficiently conducted concerns to achieve competitive success.
High wages stimulate research in the direction of quicker and more efficient production methods, and, in this way, the period of abnormal wage output ratio may prove not to have been entirely disadvantageous. Th,,-; ease of Belgium is instructive in this respect, where, before. the war, wages and the cost of living were remarkably low. In consequence, labour costs caused little anxiety to the manufacturers in that country, and there was no powerful incentive either to install labour-saving machinery of the latest type or "to scrap machines of out-of-date construction. It was thus possible, in certain cases, to compete internationally with products which were manufactured by methods which were not nearly so efficient as they should have been. In Belgium, as in this country, wages have now risen very considerably to meet-the increased cost of living and, consequently, scientific management and the efficient uSe of up-todate machinery are now receiving much more attention than before the war. .
Thus, the efficiency-producing effect of high wages is not confined to this country alone, and the period of abnormal labour costs can only be of advantage to those manufacturers who appreciate its lessons, and devote the maximum expert investigation to the perfecting of labour-saving devices and organization. _
Co-operation among Motor Coach Proprietors.
THERE ARE MANY Ways in which motor coach proprietors, in any district, may benefit by free collaboration with one another and, in many case!., it would, probably, be found worth while to form a sort of standing committee to facilitate co-operation.
It would benefit all 'concerned if the draft programme of every proprietor were laid before such a committee, and 'a joint statement prepared showing the whole of the tours and services proposed. It would then' be seen whether certain attractive tours were overdone -and others, by comparison, neglected, whether clashing had been avoided as far as peasible, and whether the times of ,starting and returning differed sufficiently in respect of various trips on the same day. Evidently, if, on one day, half a dozen trips are being run, the convenience of various members of the publicewill be beat served. if the trips start at different times and run to different places.
It is certainly bad to have a number of competing vehicles starting for the same trip, at approximately the same time and from the same place. This is:sure to lead, sooner or later, to an undignified scramble for custom. In some places, the local authorities themselves prevent this from happening by allocating certain poi„itions of the vehicles of certain proprietors at certain times. Where thelocal authority does not regulate in this way, it would, prebably, be a good plan for the coach proprietors to do so on their own account. No clonbt, some starting times are more popular than others, 'and, by co-operation, the best times and beg trips could be properly shared out among the various proprietors.
Another result of co-operation might be the, preparation of an illustrated booklet, which could be distributed to clubs, britels, and boarding houses, and so on. The various trips would be attraotively described and illustrated, and all the aervices offered -1.-)y the co-operating proprietors would be set out,
With clear indications as to the starting points and other details. •
Co-operation of this kind would not entail sinking one's identity. The joint time table would indicate to which proprietor the vehicle. in each case belonged and the 'distinctive colour or other marks of the vehicles of each fleet. Tinfa, healthy competition • 'would be maintained, because,, evidently, the proprietor offering the most comfortable and attractive . service would get the cream of the business: 14
• some canes, en-operation might extend some distance afield, and a certain numberof linking-up services be arranged with proprietors in other centres.