10.1 "Why manufacturing?" repeated the factory manager.
10.2 "This question is often raised. The reason is manufactured commodities - anything that can be exported from cars to canned fruit - are still the basis of the world’s economy. Commodity production is still the heartbeat of industry and for the foreseeable future will be the place where the mass of the people will spend their working lives. Admittedly there are countries, or pockets in countries, where this general statement doesn’t apply: like mineral rich countries that keep selling off their minerals to live. But these are the exceptions. The majority of people in the world who are working productively are in factories producing commodities. The partners know and identify with these people. You will find that The Partnership has a strong bias to manufacturing for these reasons and that occupations such as accounting, finance and administration are purposefully kept peripheral and never allowed to dominate. In the outside society, there is a marked difference in attitudes between employers and employees. Most people are educated to be employees and there is an employee mentality abroad. There is also a less obvious employing class who know and act upon different principles to the employee class. We have learned about, understood and reconciled these two classes within The Partnership and, after deep consideration, believe that the employer/employee relationship is inherently unstable, that it can never be harmonious because the two classes have essentially different interests and goals, and that the best that can be hoped for in it is some kind of antagonistic stalemate. The partners are in a unique position: they exist simultaneously in both classes - they are at once workers, owners and managers and they are aware that they are responsible for the successes and failures of their business. They can see both sides of the disputes that afflict outside industry, whereas the protagonists see only one side because of their particular mental set. Outsiders often acknowledge this capacity in the partners by requesting them to arbitrate in their employer/employee disputes."
10.3 "We take it then," I said, "that the partners do not have the feeling of helplessness that afflicts the mass of the people when matters of a political or economic nature are involved?"
10.4 "No," he replied. "The partners do not feel helpless because they are not helpless. With time we have become experts in the dynamics and use of the pressure group and it is always gratifying to see how a relatively small amount of resources of the right type, injected at the right time, can achieve large and lasting results. We have political pressure groups, one of which is condoned by The Partnership and therefore receives Partnership funding, religious pressure groups and industrial pressure groups that have the will and resources to sustain long-term pressure on government and other bodies to achieve approved goals. It is surprising to add up how little time and money was required to achieve a goal: sometimes it’s merely postage stamps, a few telephone calls, and one or two timely interviews spread over a few years to achieve quite significant results out of proportion to the input."
10.5 "These areas seem rather remote from work-a-day industrial life," I commented. "How do the partners keep abreast of developments in these fields?"
10.6 "We have training courses, and when we need additional expertise, outside specialists are invited to provide the specific needs," said the factory manager. "The partners are interested, and perhaps that’s the key. The Partnership invariably assists partners to pursue their interests. It does seem, now that you mention it, that we do have more than our share of people who are recognised authorities in their fields of interest."
10.7 "Without The Partnership, most of us would be poor and without the necessary power to influence the decisions that affect our lives. The Partnership has given us the necessary power to change our environment, provide the necessities of life and some of the luxuries, and to develop our potential."
10.8 "Contrast our position with propertyless employees who are forced to compete on a crowded labour market by getting more and more education to get jobs increasingly removed from producing the necessities of life and increasingly directed to satisfying the wants of a few - all drawing people away from a simple life-style that many would prefer."
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From The Partnership, by Graeme Doel.
Converted to HTML by Simon Grant, 2003.