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 Socialist Industry: The Masses Innovate (II)

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Socialist Industry: The Masses Innovate (II)


by Our Correspondents

Source: Peking Review, No. 30, July 27, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org




     This is the second of two articles on the moss movement for technical innovations in Shanghai. The first was published in our last issue. — Ed.

    THE technical innovation movement on a mass scale at the Shanghai No. 3 Bicycle Plant has had its ups and downs. It was going full steam soon after the plant started production in 1958, and by the end of the third year. 1960, annual output had risen by five times.
     Later, however, the workers' initiative ran up against a stone wall and the mass movement for technical innovations cooled down. Influenced by the revisionist line in running industry pushed by Liu Shao-chi and his gang, the plant leadership lacked complete faith in the workers. Technical personnel were isolated from the workers when they were put in offices to work on innovations behind closed doors. If a worker wanted to get going on an innovation, he had to present a design to be approved by six departments. Then 13 seals of approval had to be stamped on the design before he could start working on it.
  The Great Cultural Revolution dealt the revisionist line a telling blow. The plant's new Party committee firmly carried out Chairman Mao's revolutionary line to "whole-heartedly rely on the working class," and another technical innovation upsurge took place.

"What Should We Do?"

     Chairman Mao has said: "The mass movement is necessary in all work. Things won't go without the mass movement." This, too, applies to technical innovations.
  How did the Party committee of the No. 3 Bicycle Plant rely on and mobilize the masses? Two workers in the No. 1 workshop told us how a new technical innovation upsurge started in 1970. After several workers of the shop's fifth group visited the Shanghai Chiangnan Shipyard, they realized that technical innovations in their plant were far behind those at the shipyard. Together with the other workers in their group, they discussed the matter and decided to write a big-character poster to let the leadership know their opinion. They put it up in a conspicuous place, under the heading: "Chiangnan has done it, what about No. 3?"
     As soon as the Party committee members saw the poster, their secretary, Ruo Sung-ting, went to the group to hear its detailed opinion of the plant's leadership and ideas on technical innovations. Kuo promptly supported the initiative and decided to send technicians to help with the innovations.
    
     The leadership's support was a great encouragement. A plan to raise work efficiency was agreed to and a second big-character poster called "Chiangnan has done it, what should our group do?" was written by those who had put up the first one, pledging to increase the group's monthly output by 35 per cent. This was later overfulfilled.
     After thoroughly discussing the two posters, the Party Committee decided to broadcast them over the plant's loudspeaker system, mimeograph them and send copies to each workshop and group. It called on the whole plant to learn from the fifth group. Leading comrades at all levels went down to the basic units, getting acquainted with the situation and helping solve problems. As a result, the movement began making headway.
   What should we do?" This question set off a chain reaction throughout the plant. As production in one group shot up. the other related groups also had to raise their output. When one link in the production process quickened the pace, the other links had to keep up. How could production be increased and the pace accelerated? Instead of burdening the workers with added labour intensity, advances were made by tapping potential through technical innovations. For a time big-character posters went up one alter another and vigorous discussions took place around questions like "The fifth group has done it, what should our group do?" and "The No. 1 workshop has done it, what about our workshop?” The cooks also raised the question: "Production has gone up, what should we do?" Their answer was to provide tastier meals at moderate prices. There were numerous instances of shops or groups catching up with one another. It was like "ten thousand horses galloping," as an old saying puts it.

"Three-in-One" Combination

  Technical innovations by the masses need both a vigorous atmosphere and a close-knit organisation and scientific approach. Not much can be done if things start all of a sudden and drift aimlessly. The "three-in-one" group is an effective form of organization.
     Three members of the "three-in-one" group who had worked out the automatic painting line briefed us on how the line was introduced. They were Chien Jung-chu, director of the No. 4 workshop and Party branch secretary, old worker Hsu Teh-chang and technician Ho Po-hao.
  Early last year the Party branch mobilized all the workers to discuss the annual production plan and called on them to "expose contradictions, find gaps, grasp the key link and introduce technical innovations." Many forums took place and workers found 41 big and small weak links which were contradictions and gaps in the workshops production. But where was the key link? The main cause that retarded big rises in production was the painting, because too many processes were involved and high labour intensity was required. Someone soon suggested setting up an automatic line.
  After careful investigation and discussion, the Party branch considered this suggestion practical though certain difficulties had to be overcome. It decided to make this automatic line a major technical innovation item in the workshop. For this purpose a "three-in-one” group — a leading cadre (secretary Chien), two technicians and four veteran workers — was formed.
  
  The main role of the loading cadre in this group was lo guide the work according to the Party's principle and policies, such as whether the pan conformed to the requirements of "achieving greater, faster, better and more economical results in building socialism" and the principle of "self-reliance." The leading cadre also carried out ideological work among the people. When work was hampered by difficulties, he helped keep people's spirit, up. When things went smoothly, he reminded people not to become complacent. And when there were differing opinions, he helped solve the problems on time.
     Designing was mainly done by the technicians. Before this actually started, they wrote out their ideas and asked the workers for comments. After one section of the initial design had been finished, the workers were again asked to make suggestions. Because of their rich practical experience, familiarity with everything in the workshop and knowledge of the "temper" of every machine, they often corrected impractical designing faults.
  Greatly encouraged and supported by every worker in the workshop and working together closely, the group took only three months to complete the automatic line. Dressed in greasy overalls, the secretary, a technician and an old worker talked to us and it was clear that they had amicable relations.
  To push ahead with technical innovations, the plant's Party committee paid special attention to training technicians from among the workers.   Five part-time technical classes for old workers, more than 10 training classes in special techniques and over 30 classes in basic theory have been set up in the plant over the last 10 years or so. More than 1,000 workers have studied in these classes. The plant also has sent 32 persons to colleges. Of the plant's 97 technicians, 69 are workers who received training.

No Longer a Dream

     From a leading member of Shanghai's Huakuang Slide Fastener Factory. Yang Chin-fang, we learnt that the technical innovation movement there was similar to what happened in the No. 3 Bicycle Plant.
  She related some of her experience as a child labourer in old China, setting zipper teeth into their slots in a poorly lighted attic. At the end of a day's work, her hands ached, her back was sore and she couldn't see clearly. As to her sister workers who were older, either they became near-sighted or their hands were racketed with rheumatic pains.
     "I used to think." she said, "how wonderful it would be if the teeth could only fly into the slots by themselves! I was only a child, and once I saw just that in a dream."  But it had been merely a dream.
     What Yang Chin-fang, deputy secretary of the factory's Party general branch, dreamt of as a child has become a reality. We left the automatic teeth-setting workshop and followed her upstairs to another workshop where a young man and woman were examining a fairly complex machine. They turned to her, saying: "Though there are some minor defects, it will work all light." The workshop was working on an automatic line which included all 12 processes after the teeth were set. The deputy secretary told us that the young technician in the soiled overalls had just graduated from college and the girl was new in the factory. Both were very keen on technical innovations, she said.
     "As labour productivity keeps rising, what happens to the" surplus labour power?" we asked.
     Deputy secretary Yang replied: "Don't worry about that. A factory that's doing what ours is doing will soon switch to wrist watches in accordance with the state plan."
"A zipper factory making wrist watches?"
     "It will be helped by other state-owned watch factories. And there is socialist co-operation among plants and. above all, the inexhaustible wisdom and creative power of the working class!"
     Back on bustling Nanking Road after leaving the zipper factory, we saw a big placard with a quotation from Lenin: "Living, creative socialism is the product of the masses themselves."
     Shanghai is a good example of this profound conclusion. Though the level of industry's mechanization and automation has some way to go, prospects are bright.
    

    

Source: Peking Review, No. 30, July 27, 1973
Transcribed for www.wengewang.org

  
  
  

 
 
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