Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 18. 26th July 1973
Heavy Machinery And Mad Tsetung Thought
Heavy Machinery And Mad Tsetung Thought
The industrial progress in [unclear: Liaoningovince] since liberation in 1949 is typified by the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory. Built in 1937 by a group of Japanese capitalists, it was poorly equipped and its mam products were the rims of locomotive wheels and driving rods. From 1945 to 1948 the factory was run by Kuominting and was severly damaged. After liberation the mam task was restore and rebuild the factory.
Today the factory's 11,000 workers produce three main categories of machinery: forging mache is, rolling machines of different kinds [unclear: andmimng] equipment. The level of production has increased enormously, especially since the Cultural Revolution.
In 1969 output increased 11% compared with that of 1966. In 1970 output increased 54% compared with 1969, and in 1971 output increased 23% compared with 1970.
A good [unclear: dea] the work being done in this factory [unclear: win] producing machinery unlike any thing made in New Zealand. For example we saw a big forging hammer made in the plant in 1962, which had a pressure of 3000 tons across its face, pounding iron ingots into shape. The factory owned an even bigger hammer which had a pressure of 6000 tons. We also saw a huge gear wheel being lathed and machined down from a large piece of steel.
While the main emphasis at the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory was on production of machinery, the factory was an outstanding example of the operation of the principle of self-reliance.
The plant had its own power system which produced gas and electricity, and its own transportation system which included 13 kilometres of rail track. 40 railway carriages and two locomotives. It had a farm which had 100 acres in rice for training cadres in productive labour.
The welfare services were extremely impressive. In the last two years 176,000 square metres of housing development has been built for workers' homes. There is a hospital which provides free medical treatment for workers and has 270 beds, and 300 beds for babies in nursaries and 350 beds for children in kindergartens. The trade union at the factory runs a Cultural Palace which can hold 1,700 people, and organises cultural activities for workers. The factory has even built a special bus for transporting pregnant women workers.
The difference between this factory, and industrial enterprises in the People's Republic in general, and big factories in capitalist countries is not so much in the welfare facilities provided or even in the self sufficiency of the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory compared to similar enterprises in the capitalist world.
What really distinguishes this factory in Shenyang from a factory in the USA or the Soviet Union for example, is that here a factory is run by the workers in the interests of the workers.
Before outlining examples of how the workers at this factory control its operations it is important to emphasise that in China the working class, allied with the peasants, is the ruling class. The Cultural Revolution, as a struggle that was won by the masses and the revolutionary line of Chairman Mao. showed just how weak the bureaucrats and experts were when confronted by the masses.
This point is important in understanding the differences between trade unions in China and trade unions in New Zealand. In China the trade unions do not confront a hostile class which owns the means of production. It is still vital to organise workers into unions, but the functions of the unions are to organise political study, technical study and the socialist emulation campaign, a campaign designed to boost production by publicising the achievements of advanced workers and production teams in the workshops.
While the administration of the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory is carried out by a relatively small group of administrators under the guidance of the Revolutionary Committee, the rank and file workers have a number of controls over the bureaucrats.
Administrative workers are appointed by the Revolutionary Committee after consultation with the rank and file workers, who have direct representation on the Revolutionary Committee. These administrators spend one day a week working on the factory floor, to remind them whose interests they are serving. Leading members of workshops spend three days a week on the factory floor.
While technical staff draw up blueprints for the design of new products, these blue prints have to be submitted to and discussed by the rank and file workers before they an developed into actual plans for production. This concept of letting workers on the factory floor participate in designing new products is essential because the workers themselves, along with the technicians, have to solve problems of production on the job.
In the area of solving problems one can begin to see the connections between the workers' political study and their role as the leading force in the factory. One of the advanced workers at Shenyang Heavy Machines Building Factory described how workers tackled problems by applying the principles of Marxism—Leninism—Mao Tsetung thought.
He pointed out that in their work the workers often encountered different kinds of contradictions. "It would be stupid," he said, "to try and solve all the contradictions at once, so we follow Chairman Mao s teaching and always look for the major contradiction and solve that first."
This worker gave one specific example of how he and his comrades had solved a problem by applying Mao's teaching. Previously the workers had used an ordinary vertical hammer to crush iron ingots. But this machine was not effective enough, and it was suggested that the workers should make a bowl vertical hammer to do the job. Few workers knew what a bowl vertical hammer looked like, and after many experiements and relating theory and practice the workers made a bowl vertical hammer. This improvement increased efficiency four times.
Before we left the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory it was stressed to us that the factory had a number of problems to overcome. Greater mechanisation and better co-ordination of different processes are needed to reduce labour-intensity. This was a reminder that Chinese industry is still in the developing stages and had not reached the level of advanced industrial countries.
As an outstanding example of the principle of self-reliance operating in practice the Shenyang Heavy Machinery Building Factory was a sharp reminder of the puny nature of New Zealand industry and the danger of relying on foreign capital and agricultural exports.