Film: 5444

Industry + Work | 1970 | Sound | Colour

Synopsis:

The art of trade negotiations and productivity bargaining with Trade Unions 1970's. Dramatised.

Two executives discuss future of company. Pros and cons of productivity agreement. The worker and management and the role of the Trade Unions.
Opening scene of a factory worker working with a lathe. Two executives enter and office and proceed to discuss the problem of over production in some areas. They agree that only solution must involve the agreement of the 'shop floor workers' They decide that a productivity agreement might be in order. But the older man is more sceptical. He says they must be sure that such an agreement will be in the company's best interest. They then enter the Managing Director's office. It seems the older man is the managing director. The older man pauses to take a message from his secretary, the younger manager goes on ahead. The older man then walks into an inner office where the younger man is already waiting. The managing director tells the younger man that he is opposed to the idea. The younger man says that he thinks that they have no alternative and shows the older man a report. The older man looks at the report and agrees that the company can not go on the way it is. The older man is still resistant to the suggestion of a productivity agreement and suggests an alternative of an incentive scheme. The younger man says that such a scheme is unnecessary if his more fundamental plan is tried. His plan involves changes in working methods and possibly increased wages and fringe benefits for some workers. The young manager continues to explain his scheme. A third man enters the room and proceeds to discuss the problem with the two there. The third man suggests some new machines which would increase output. The youngest man still insists upon his more wide ranging plan. The managing director points out that in both cases it would involve consulting the union. The new participant in the conversation agrees that the union would need to be consulted but only at a later stage after the management had made it its plans. The younger man objects that this plan underestimates the industrial relations problems this would cause. The oldest man agrees that a partial productivity plan would result in wage inequality and so 'limp frogging wage chains'. The managing director asks the youngest man what he means by productivity agreement. He explains that it would involve a change of attitude in the plant. It would mean workers sharing in decisions. It represents a new way of running a business. Such an agreement is forward looking, it involves increased wages etc. for increased productivity. The exchange carries on like this. The manager decides that they must analyse the younger man's plan and then make up their mind. The action then switches to the managing director's home. We first of all see a close-up of a woman's hand writing an envelope on a red leather covered desk. The camera draws back to reveal a woman in 1970's clothes. She seals an envelope and then turns to her husband who sits in an armchair and looks worried. When his wife remarks that he looks worried he folds his fingers in front of him and smiles. His wife comes over and sits by his side and he looks up into her face. She sits at his side with her legs up an the chair and proceeds to discuss his work related problems with him. She then stands up, holding her newspaper and turns her back to him. She tells her husband that she thinks that shift work will upset the workers. She turns back towards the camera and then sits down. Cut to her husband who is sitting in his armchair. He then stands up and continues the conversation. He steps to the left of the screen where there are drinks laid out on a silver tray: A soda siphon and decanters etc. He turns around. We then see his shoulder and head in back profile and we can see his wife by looking over his right shoulder. He turns towards the camera and pours himself a drink. We can still see his wife to the right of the screen. We then see s close-up of his face and then a close-up of his hands using the soda siphon. He tells his wife he is going to consult the workers at an early stage. He press towards his wife. Behind him is a brick fire place with unlit logs in it. Close-up of his hand (he has his drink in his right hand). His wife thinks that consulting the workers is too idealistic. Her husband tells her that he thinks it could work. The conversation continues in a similar manner and in the same setting. At one point the wife helps herself to a drink. Her husband has told her that he intends to consult the shop stewards first thing in the morning. There is then a scene in the managing director's office. The managing director sits on his desk, one manager and two shop stewards (wearing white coats) sit opposite. The Director explains the problem needing to cut productivity costs. He says that there should be many solutions (new machines for instance), but he wants to consult the workers. One of the shop stewards remarks that in his last place of work the new machines were unused because the workers refused to use them because they had not been consulted. The managing director says that this is exactly his point. They proceed to debate the pros and cons of workplace participation with the junior manager together with one of the shop stewards are more sceptical about its renting. They leave the meeting resolved to give it a try. We then see a close-up of a tree. The camera zooms in and we see that we are in the senior shop stewards garden. He talks to his neighbour who is cutting his hedge. The shop steward's neighbour argues that productivity agreements ultimately lead to unemployment. The shop steward says that the union will not agree to sackings. He argues that any lay offs that there need to be can be done through natural wastage and not redundancies. His neighbour says that this is all very well, but what about those who are out of work (the young etc.) The shop steward says that he is due to discuss this problem with his 'district officer' in the morning. Then follows a scene in the district officer's' office in which he advises the two shop stewards in a positive manner. He insists that an agreement on job security is important. The scene then changes to a bar room. The junior manager that we saw earlier is there with a friend. We see a close-up of his hand above the bar as he takes a dish of nuts from the bar maid. He then walks over to his friend, before complaining about the prospects of 'productivity agreement'. He says that he thinks the management should not negate its responsibilities. The youngest of the managers walks briskly into the managing director's reception area and asks his secretary whether they have started the meeting yet. He then walks into the office. Five men and the managing director are sitting at a conference table. Despite a negative attitude on the part of the most sceptical manager the meeting proceeds in a positive manner. The managing director insists that there must be changed of attitudes on both sides. Worker and management must work together for the common good. He managing director dictates that they need to set up a consultation committee on which all will be represented. Caption: 'The Beginning'.


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