Cape Breton's Magazine

> Issue 49 > Page 82 - Part One of a Two-Part Story: We Worked for General Instruments

Page 82 - Part One of a Two-Part Story: We Worked for General Instruments

Published by Ronald Caplan on 1988/8/1 (150 reads)

(What do we mean by secondary industry?) Well, you have your primary industries, such as your mining and your steel company and your forestry. Okay. In those particu? lar areas, your rate of pay is greater than a small-type manufacturing thing can af? ford. Most of our business was all going to the automotive companies. And, let's say, an automobile tuner that we made at the rate of, say, on some lines, 3500 a day-- those things were selling to the automobile manufacturer for approximately 2 dollars. So you can see that the labour increment in that product wasn't very great. Because there were 35 people involved in that par? ticular process. If you were to go and buy that component at an automotive store, it would cost you approximately 18 or 19 dol? lars. So, from the manufacturing stand? point, between that and the distributor, who was the automobile manufacturer, it was a great, great increase in price, from our finished product area to a consumer, if he was buying a part. (Although actual labour was important to that part.) Yes, labour was important to it. But I think it might have figured out to something like, the la? bour may have been--what?--15 cents. Do you know what I mean? (Which gives us an idea of the worth of labour.) And at that amount of labour being into a product--yes. (Would you say it was more the relative low pay, or monotony of the job, that made it both a secondary industry and--that made it a job women were able to get?) Well, most manufacturing jobs are really secondary- industry jobs. Because you're picking up parts from a variety of suppliers and so on like that. And what you're doing is assem? bling them. (Oh, I see. It's secondary, not in status, but in step.) In step, yeah. (Well, then, was it the relatively modest pay that made it more of a women's job?) Yes, yes. And all the plants that'we did have, the majority of our workers were women. And we were able to--I'11 say a point--it's a good point for the people in this area. We had more female foreladies in this par? ticular plant than they had in the other 27 plants that the company operated in North America. There was always--I don't know-- male macho syndrome--but the lady would be an assistant-to-foreman. Here we had ladies who were foreladies in their own right. They ran that particular assembly line. Darlene Hareguy (Regarding training--did they have classes or anything like that?) No, you were trained right on the line. Like if a new girl came in--if I was going to be putting coils on--I would sit here, and this girl would be putting the coils on, showing me how to do it. And I would sit alongside of her for about a week. And she'd give me a coil every now and then. "Now, you try." And she'd check it, and she'd put it up. And then in the end, the two of you would be doing it. And she'd check every one you did for a week. After the week was over, you'd be on your own. We were trained that way. It was always one worker training the other worker. (What about speed? How did they decide how fast everybody would work, or what was ac? ceptable?) They had it down to a pat, you know. Like, you should be able to put out so many tuners an hour. And you had a little counter by your desk. And every time you did a tuner, you flicked your counter-- you put it up and flicked your counter. At the end of every hour they came around and they marked down how many you did. And they kept a track of it. You know, when they had a new girl, they would say to her, "Okay, ~ 40 YEARS OF SERVICE TO CAPE BRETON • ?tfe (Htftl&rcn;'a Atii 'octrtu of CHapc Ureton jj INTAKE HOME STUDIES PROTECTION FOSTER HOMES ADOPTION problem Identificatfon; referral support services; crisis intervention all ages, in permanent homes CHILDREN IN CARE I Suite 7, Provincial Building, 360 Prince Street, Sydney, Nova Scotia B1P 5L1 (562-5506) I SINGLE MOTHERS counseHIng; support |jhe community's responsibility is to protect our children! counselling; support ? "A UNfTED WAY SERVICE AGENCY"
Cape Breton's Magazine
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