|From the ALKALI NEWS, November 1948
(75th Anniversary Issue)
|Included in a retrospective of Industrial Relations within the company that became ICI:-
On 2nd February 1927, addressing a meeting of the Works Committee (now the Alkali Division Council) the first Lord Melchett outlined the policy which the newly formed ICI would pursue in its relations with its employees.
"We intend," he stated, "and I say so with the utmost emphasis, that far from our policy being one of regression as far as those employed in our Works are concerned, we intend to make ICI an example of progress to the industrial world....I hope to create a great Imperial Chemical Industry spirit in which all the thousands employed will feel that they are a great brotherhood and a great partnership."
Hours of Work and Wages
In 1874, when production of alkali started, the shiftmen worked an 84-hour week, made up of six shifts per week averaging 12 hours each and one shift every other week of 24 hours. The pay was 4/-d. a 12 hour shift with nothing extra for Saturday and Sunday shifts. The day labourer worked 56 1/2 hours a week, for which he received pay at the rate of 3/4d. a day or £1 a week. A fitter (there were only two of them) was paid on an hourly basis at the rate of 8d. and hour, or 37s./8d. a week.
In 1889, the shift hours were reduced from 12 to 8, with a 56-hour working week, and in 1895, the working week for daymen came down to 49 1/4 and later to 48 hours.
In 1919, the day-worker's week was further reduced tp 47 hours, at which it stood until last year  when the reduction to 44 hours on a five day week basis took place. The dayman on base rate today is paid £4 18s. 1s. a week.
The shift hours remained at 56 until 1935 when they came down to 48, but shortage of labour compelled a reversion to 56 soon after the start of the last war. they again came down to 48 in 1945, and were finally reduced last year to 42 hours. The present base rate for the lowest paid shift job is 19s./10d. a shift, the weekly pay being £6 5s. 2d.
Holidays With Pay
As early as 1884, Dr Mond and Sir John Brunner realised that their men could not work indefinitely the long hours referred to above, and in that year and subsequently, a week's holdiay with pay was granted to every man who during the preceeding year had lost fewer than ten days or shifts (absence through sickness or on leave not being counted).
In 1902 the then unprecedented step was taken of making a gift of a sum equivalent to a week's pay to each man qualifying for the holiday in the hope that he would use it to go away for a change of air. It was not until 1948, the present year, that any further fundamental change took place.
The principle of a fortnight's holiday with pay has now been accepted by the Company, and if the employees do not in fact receive the second week's holiday, they receive a week's pay in lieu. At the same time, the old practice of making a gift of a week's pay has been discontinued, those affected having been compensated by a lump sum payment equivalent to three years' purchase.
Works Council Scheme
The idea of joint consultation was first out into practice during the 1914/18 war when a Works Committee, covering all the Cheshire Works, was set up, very much on the lines of our present Division Council. A year or two later, the Committees were established for the individual Works. The scheme was enthusiastically taken up by ICI and in the Spring of 1929 the present three-tier structure of Works Council, Division Council and Central Council was founded. The first meeting of the Central Council took place in London on 18th April, 1929.
Staff Grade Scheme
This is a scheme which did not exist in pre-ICI days, though something of the kind was under consideration in the early nineteen twenties. The staff-grade scheme, the essence of which is the maintainance of a weekly wage during periods of sick absence and a month's notice of termination of employment, was introduced in 1928, when the maximum permissible percentage was 25% of those eligible. the percentage was increased to 35 in 1930 and to 50 in 1943.
The ICI Savings bank dates from the 1st February 1929. A similar, though less formal, scheme had been in operation at Winnington since the earliest days. A statement of the savings fund accounts as at 1st January, 1881, reveals the interesting fact that the total standing to the credit of depositors was then £26. At 30th June, 1948, the corresponding figure was £907,937.
Long Service Bonus
The first scheme was introduced by Brunner, Mond, in 1907, and provided for the retention of the bonus by the Company until the employee concerned left the employ or died. The arrangement was replaced in 1913 by a scheme very similar to the present one, put into force throughout ICI in 1930. From time to time the scheme has been amended in detail in favour of the employee.
Long Service Awards
It would take almost a book to describe the changes which have occurred in this scheme since its inauguration by Brunner, Mond in 1918. It is perhaps enough to say that the scheme was applied generally throughout ICI in 1930.
Workers' Pension Fund
This is another instance of a benefit introduced by ICI itself. At the time of the merger the draft of a contributory pension scheme for Brunner, Mond employees had been prepared, but it had not been adopted. On 17th February, 1930, ICI offered payroll employees the opportunity of taking part in a voluntary pension fund, but this particular scheme met with little support, and was superseded on 4th January, 1937, by the present Workers' Pension Fund.
A scheme embodying the basic principles of the present one was introduced at Winnington in February, 1926, a few months before the merger. It was adopted and improved upon by ICI, being formally launced on 27th July, 1929.
Readers will scarcely need to be reminded of other later developments, such as the alternative work scheme for men meeting with works accidents, job appraisement introduced as recently as this summer, Benefit B, started at the beginning of the war and still in force, the greatly enlarged scope of the Works Medical Service and the introduction of the Dental and Ophthalmic Services.
Mention should, however, be made of the development of the principle of collective bargainingto which from the start Dr Mond and Sir John Brunner attached so much importance. As long ago as 1889, we find Sir John addressing a mass meeting of Winnington employees and urging them with all the power of his eloquence to join a Trade Union.
Similarly, in 1927, we find the first Lord Melchett setting up a series of conferences between employers and the Trade Unions, know as the Melchett/Turner Conferences, the forerunners of the well-known National Joint Advisory Council which exists today.
The seal was set upon the happy relationship between the Company and the Trade Unions representing the employees when an agreement relating to negotiating procedure was signed on the 5th May, 1947. Under this agreement the Company undertook that although Union membership was not a condition of employment it would, nevertheless, bring to the notice of its workers its view that they should be members of an appropriate Union. A code of negotiating procedure was also laid down providing, amongst other things, for the recognition of Shop Stewards by the Company. The Unions for their part formally recognised the Works Council Scheme.
Such are some of the developments which have taken place on the pay-roll side since Lord Melchett spoke in 1927. An impartial observer, surveying the whole sweep of these momentous seventy-five years, would surely agree that despite the changed conditions brought about by the formation of ICI the old spirit of friendliness, co-operation and progress which characterised the relations between Brunner, Mond and its employees has not only been maintained since 1927, but has been refreshed and strengthened.
Alkali News, 1948
|Ludwig Mond with his son, ICI's first chairman, and, Lord Melchett.|