29 JULY 1966, Page 12

Blaming the People

70 Ennran From: G. B. Napier, Ben Patterson, Father Laurence Bright, Audrey Donnithorne, Quentin de la Bedoyere, Keith Mack, Laurence Hyde, G. Wynn Hamel, George Booth, John L. Molyneaux, Ludovic Kennedy, Robert Pitman.

Sta,-1 have read the SPECTATOR regularly for thirty- five years, and I find the current discussions about our national ills to be remote and discouraging. Apparently it is wrong to 'blame the people'; we merely canvass the administrative remedies open to governments. Do your contributors live near enough to the ground to pick up the truth?

To anyone engaged in business in a small scale it is clear beyond any doubt that there are too many people not doing a day's work. Time-keeping is bad, absenteeism is on the steady increase and when at work output is low. This is particularly the case in the building trade, with which I am familiar. There are three other jobs for every man, and the organisation of the smallest job may expect to en- counter resistance to co-operate, limitation of effort and occasionally refusal. This behaviour can- not be rationalised; much of it has become un- conscious. And let me assure you that this happens with careful and thoughtful management, taking pains about the matter.

In the main, skills are low, together with care and interest. At the bottom, few want to put a first foot upon the ladder of responsibility, or undergo training. Those who do tend to give up easily. These weaknesses are to be found at all levels, including management, but in the main inversely as responsi- bility is felt, and in the main also inversely as re- sponsibility is held.

These are the 'facts' management deals with every day. It is popular to blame management because there is no one else to take the blanket accusation, and there is a partial 'guilt complex' among many employers.

Lest it be thought I am `blamine the men,' let me make clear what is also generally recognised; that inside every 'work-shy' man is another of an earlier habit who would—if he had to—quickly take over and produce the necessary increase upon which our salvation depends. He would also feel better while doing it, and other current trends might go into reverse.

It is idle to weigh in with emotive words such as 'unemployment' and to discount them in the utterance. Society must be responsible, and we must use the sanctions which we deserve. and which will work. The remedies are hard to devise. it is true; but let there be no doubt of the real disease.