We recently came across an article in one of our most esteemed contemporaries, remarks the Sanitary Plumber, in which, under the above title, the writer had sought to illustrate the difference between the honest employe, whose interests were identical with those of his employer, and the indifferent mechanic who seems to have no care or thought beyond the fact that he is paid for his time, and that as long as he puts in the requisite number of hours and maintains a show, of doing something, he is furnishing a fair equivalent for his wages.
Unfortunately, the remarks offered by the writer are only too true. There are plenty of such workmen in the market, but the question is, are the employers not to a certain extent to blame for their existence? Let us explain. One of these unsatisfactory mechanics finds his way into a shop and it does not take long to discover his presence. The proper thing for the employer to do, after giving him due warning, is to lay him off. He is an unprofitable servant, and no one is bound to keep him.
Stern necessity will compel him very soon either to mend his ways or he will go to the wall—that is, if he does not bring up in some snug harbor where his employer is as slack as himself. “It is the opportunity that makes the thief,” is an old and well proved proverb, and it is the fact that they find employers willing to put up with them that is responsible for the existence of so many of these circulating nuisances.
It may seem strange that employers should be so blind to their own interests as to tolerate such an unprofitable servant. Sometimes carelessness is the cause of their indifference, sometimes they are ignorant of the failings of their men for obvious reasons, or they may have good cause for keeping such men on their books. This much is certain, if the employer knew his duty and did it, these makeshift mechanics would be compelled to give place to better men.
Another fruitful source of the careless workman is the shop were everything is done in a slipshod manner. “Hurry up, it’s good enough;” has spoiled many a good man, and if an employer habitually crowds his men with more work than they can properly accomplish, denies them the right as it were to honestly perform their alloted tasks, he has only himself to blame if eventually they become as careless as he is.
Where such shiftlessness involves a loss to the customer it becomes culpable dishonesty, and the employer who permits this has only himself to blame if he becomes eventually the victim of his workman’s lack of rectitude.
We are weary of reading dolorous complaints and criticisms where the power to remedy the evils complained of rests with the complainer. There would be an immediate and permanent decrease in the number of lazy and negligent workmen if every employer kept up to the mark himself and had those he paid do the same thing.
—Work and Iron
Union Pacific Employes’ Magazine – June, 1892
1 thought on “Two Kinds of Workmen”
I’m really enjoying these posts. Thanks for sharing them, Jeff.
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