Industrial Problems
By G. B. Holdsworth

Mr. G.B. Holdsworth on Industrial Problems, January 1920

Mr. G.B. Holdsworth, J.P., was the lecturer on Thursday for the Halifax Textile Society in the Imperial Cafe, where there was a good and attentive audience, presided over by Mr. A. Bairstow.

The subject of the lecture was "Economic, Social and Moral Effects of Productive Efficiency," which, Mr. Holdsworth connfessed was a very wide and involved topic. Therefore he thought it advisable, at the outset, to give his idea of what productive efficiency implied. Productive efficiency required the maximum effort of the human brain and physical powers, directed by the best possible combination of capital and labour. To get the best possible results out of the latter combination the two elementary factors must be present. Workers should be encouraged to put forward their best effort by offering substantial rewards.

Unfortunately there was an impression abroad amongst workers that restriction of output would mean more employment and therefore more wages for all. As a matter of fact it was only greater output which would create greater wages. Capital and Labour were necessary to each other, and capital owed a debt to labour, and to be successful it must keep the following points to the front: good wages, comfortable conditions, and adequate reward for increased output.

One economic effect of the best productive efficiency gained in this way would be that all effort would be so organised that all put forth the best of their ability for the good of the community as a whole. Such services only contributed to the nation's wealth, money itself being of no real value, though as a measure of value made possible productive efficiency on a large scale. Money was however, in these days the first tangible result of efficiency in industry, therefore it was a stimulant.

The social effort of such efficiency was the creation of a race of specialists. The day of the "Jack of all trades" was past, success in industry being first brought about by following special lines. This specialisation in work was reflected in the private lives of those so engaged. An example of this was the collective recreations of the different classes of workers in the textile trade, all of which had their own craft unions.

Furthermore there were no greater sticklers for class than these workers, as for instance the distinctions maintained between the spinners and weavers. To get productive efficiency modern employers also encouraged healthy social programmes for their workers. The war had done a good deal in this respect, chiefly by the initiative of the Ministry of Munitions in establishing canteens and so forth. Then there was the army, wher physical fitness meant the best soldiers.

The moral was, the employers should carefully consider the welfare of their workers both at work and play. For the most part, however it was best, as far as possible, to leave the control of welfare schemes to the workers themselves, as they had the best judgement of what was required.

The moral effect of productive efficiency was distinctly good, for the worker who got the best out of industry would also get the best out of life generally. Efficiency became a habit. The higher standard of morality which now prevailed amongst operatives was largely so where improved efficiency had been started. War had left a legacy of discipline which would be valuable in industry if used aright. The integral part of the whole question was that those who took a hand in shaping this discipline were doing much to make self-disciplined men and women.
With regard to the general welfare of the workers, employers would find that on its very lowest basis - the commercial - a keen interest in such would pay.

As reported in THE HALIFAX GUARDIAN, 15 January 1920
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Editor's Note: The Imperial Cafe, located in George Square, Halifax, closed in October 1954

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