A common practice amongst engineering firms was for workers to be paid according to the work they produced, a system known as "piece work." Below is a copy of a booklet produced by local crane maker Joseph Booth explaning the introduction of the piece work system to its workforce. As can be seen, the system introduces a great deal of bureaucracy but helps to keep up productivity.
PIECE WORK RULES
1. The method of operating the scheme will be as follows:-
A time allowance will be given for each job either in the form of a certain number of hours or, for small articles, a number off per hour. Certain jobs may be grouped together and time allowance made for the group. The time taken to complete the job will be paid for at the piece-worker's rates; in addition the value of the amount of time saved will be calculated out at the worker's base rate, this amount will be paid as piece work bonus for the job.
2. No operator will be put on to piece work until he or she has proved that he or she is efficient and capable of carrying out the work accurately.
3. In certain cases where it is not possible for an operator to work on direct piece work he will be paid a lieu rate in the form of reflective bonus on the average earnings of the piece workers in his department. Reflective bonus is to be limited to the permanent staff of workmen in the production department concerned whose earnings cannot be based on a straight piece work system but whose output is controlled by the output of piece workers in the shop which they are serving. this wil also apply to the Tool Room operators whose reflective bonus will follow the earnings of the Machine Shop.
4. The basis for fixing the time allowance the piece work shall be that a workman of average abiiity shall be able to earn at least 27 1\2 % piece work balance on his or her base rate. All discussions on the appropriateness or otherwise of piece allowances will be made in relation to this basis.
5. In the event of it not being possible to come to an agreement on the time allowance for a job the operator agrees to undertake the work at time work rates.
6. Rates once fixed and agreed upon will not be changed except for the following reasons:-
(a) A mistake in the calculations on either. side.
(b) The material, means, or method of production, or the quantities are changed.
(c) A mutual arrangement has been come to between the employer and the worker in the same way as a new time is arranged.
Note.-In effect paragraph (b) means that- The managernent reserve the right to re-time an operation and re-fix the time allowance in the event of a change in the design, material, the method of carrying out the work. a change in the tooling or, in the case of machine work, a change in the speed and feed or in the event of the work being transferred to a different department or machine or where conditions are changed. These conditions are not intended to prevent a workman from obtaining higher earnings due to time savings made by his own initiative.
7. In general, different time allowances will be made for man, woman and boy labour if on the same work.
8. Bonus will not be paid on time saved in producing faulty work. Faulty work must be rectified (where possible) by the operator concemed at plain time rates. No additionai time allowance will be made for scrap due to a workman's error, but an additional time allowance will be made for rectifications which are due to faulty material, modifications or other causes outside the reasonable control of the operator.
9. Before any piece work is started a job card must be obtained authorising work to commence and on production of this card at the ratefixing office the starting time must be stamped on the piece ticket and the job card.
On completion of a job the time finished must be clock-stamped on the piece ticket and the job card, and the ticket handed in to the rate fixing office. The job card may be retained by the workman.
No bonus will be paid for tickets which have the times entered thereon in an unorthodox manner.
In the event of the time booked on piece tickets not corresponding to the time booked on the daily clock cards the management reserve the right to make an adjustment. When necessary the workman will be consulted so that his explanation for the discrepancy can be obtained.
10. Operators on piece work must clock on tickets the whole of their working hours even though part of this time may be payable at time rate.
Deductions in time for all meal periods will be made, except in cases where a written note from the foreman is handed in to the effect that an operator has been working through a meal-time.
11. Whether on piece or day work workmen must work the full shift, i.e., from the recognised starting to the finishing time.
12. Machines and tools must be kept clean, lubricated and properly cared for. The time taken for cleaning down etc., will be allowed for when fixing time allowances.
The amount aliowed to be 10 minutes per day machine men and 5 minutes per day other men.
13. No allowance for standing time will be made, except with the written consent of the Works Manager or Shop Foreman, and in the event of a breakdown or stoppage of a job for any cause whatever workmen must be prepared to take up other work when instructed to do so.
14. The management reserve the right to stop work on a job when necessary. In this event the job will either be considered closed and an allowance made in relation to the proportion of work done, a new time allowance being arranged for the completion of the job when work is resumed thereon or, alternatively, the job will be held in suspense for completion later. When an operator has lost time due to the stoppage under the alternative arrangement an additional time allowance will be made to compensate the loss, always provided the stoppage has not been caused by neglect or bad work of the workman.
15. In making up pay each week's wage will include the bonuses earned on all jobs completed in that week. In the case of an unfinished job being carried over from one week to another the bonus will be carried over and paid in the week in which the job is finished. (In the case of large jobs extending over a period of two weeks or more a portion of any bonus due will be paid on account at the workman's request).
16. In the case of more than one worker being concerned the amount of bonus earned will be shared in proportion to the number of hours which each worker has had on the job and pro rata to their respective base rates. This rule applies also to the case of operators on shifts where the time to complete a job extends from one shift to another.
17. In the case of a group of men being on the same job each man must have his name entered on the piece ticket as an assistant, the assistants must each have cards but they need only be filled in insofar as job number, rates and times of clocking on and off are concerned. The person who is handed the master card will be responsible for seeing that the correct clocking is made on the assistants' cards.
18. From time to time there will be making-up days on which date all piece tickets representing work in progress will be withdrawn, the number of hours worked credited to each operator and new tickets will be issued showing the balance of time available for the completion of the work.
Final Note. The above piece work rules have been drawn up and agreed to by a committee consisting of Management and Workpeople's Representatives. It is appreciated that with the experience gained in running the scheme it may be necessary to add to, modify or amend these rules and the rules will be subject to review from time to time by this committee with a view to the piece work being run on a basis which is mutually satisfactory to ail parties concerned.
For Clyde, Crane & Booth Ltd.
(Joseph Booth & Bros.)
JOHN BAKER, Managing Director.
This article was produced by Kris Ward. With thanks for Michael Woodhouse for providing original Joseph Booth material and Wellman Booth, successors to that company.