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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 9 (February 25, 1927)

The Prime Minister's Return. — Greetings To His Railway Staff

page 66

The Prime Minister's Return.
Greetings To His Railway Staff.

The Rt. Hon. J. G. Coates, Prime Minister and Minister of Railways, following his return from the Imperial Conference, has kindly supplied, for publication in this magazine, a personal message to the Staff of the New Zealand Railways.

After five months absence, during which, as representatives of the Dominion, we gratefully acknowledge having been treated with the most endearing hospitality and open-hearted kindliness in Britain, France, the United States, and Canada, I must say that I am glad to be back with you in this, the most blessed of all countries.

Although Imperial Affairs chiefly occupied my attention in the Homeland, I took the opportunity presented both there and in America for studying railway questions, and return with the benefit which personal insight gives into the methods and services of other systems. The personal knowledge gained I hope to be able to use for the advancement of the railways here.

One result of what I have seen of the whole-hearted co-operation and camaraderie amongst the staffs employed by some of the most successful railways, has been more than ever to convince me that Trades Unionism in the Railways of New Zealand, if it is to continue to do good for the men in whose interests it has been adopted, must encourage, and assist in the introduction of the latest successful methods of management and production. No good has ever resulted from obstructive criticism.

This is the get-together age. The practice of sweet reasonableness effects, and will continue to effect, far more all-round good than could possibly be accomplished if the management were continually subjected to a barrage of objections from the representatives of the men employed to carry out instructions. In any competitive enterprise, if there is disagreement in one firm between the men and the management, the competitors get the trade.

In a State business there is a chance that the Unions, having in mind the possibility of political reprisals, may attempt to wield undue power. This can prove only detrimental to the men whom it is intended to benefit. Political action cannot raise real wages. More and better production per man can and will.

Observation overseas has strongly confirmed my belief that neither parties, nor bounties, neither tariffs nor doles, can bring prosperity. This comes from one thing only—the application of brains and industry to all productive operations. By such means alone can the Railways achieve success against competition. The rule applies equally to private business as to a State concern. No industrial gain can follow from long-distance sniping between the men and the management. It is better to ground arms, and come together in goodwill, determined to produce better results by consultation and co-operative action.

Method, system, arrangement; the elimination of waste in effort and material; these do not make work harder, but they do make it pleasanter and more remunerative. It is in effecting improvements in these directions that the co-operation of the Staff—in their own interests as well as in those of the country—is confidently anticipated.

Following the experience gained whilst holding the portfolio of Railways during the past four years, the first-hand information now obtained overseas has, I must confess, broadened my own outlook, and I trust by the judicious introduction of reforms in various directions, that this may prove of benefit both to the men who work, and the public who use, our national transport system.

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