The implications of introducing shift work and flexible working hours into the UK clothing industry were examined, with special reference to the effects on personnel, plant utilisation and garment costs. A total of 37 garment manufacturing establishments, within 17 companies, were visited; 91 managers (for production and economic data)and 1018 supervisors and operatives, 87% female and 13% male, (for social data) were consulted. The main points arising from the survey are:- 1 . Social (i) The average age and length of service of respondents were respectively 30.4 and 7.1 for women and 40 and 13.9 for men. Nearly three fifths were married and over half of the women had children, most of them at school or pre-school stage. (ii) Over four fifths were committed to some kind of housework; 3 to 5 hours between 17.00 and 24.00 hours were usually spent on this task but about 9% spent more than 5 hours on it. (iii) Over half would be very much bothered by the inability to carry on their individual and/or group social activities. About two thirds would also be concerned by a change in the period of and time for sleep and meal times. Nearly two fifths used public transport for the journey to work. (iv) Only 15% had worked on multiple shifts previous to their present employment and 16% left their previous job because of being on shifts or unsuitable hours. About one fifth worked currently part-time and only 13% wanted to change their existing working system so that they might gain extra convenience and leisure in their working life. (v) The unsolicited personal choice of working systems were mainly shifts (13%), flexible working hours (14%) and part-time day work (30%); working only in school hours appeared to attract the choice of about 40% of the women. (vi) From the points above, it seemed that a high proportion of married female workers, mostly with dependent children and committed to housework, would probably react against shift work. The availability of part-time work together with the normal day work habit acquired would also affect the employees' attitudes towards the acceptance of even flexible working hours. 2. Production (i) The main problems involved with introducing shift work were considered to be sharing of equipment, bonus and piece rate payment and responsibility for quality failures. Dislike of sharing machines by operatives was considered to be a severe problem in sewing section and the extent of this dislike seemed higher in traditional rather than non traditional clothing areas; the operatives' age and length of service appeared to affect their attitudes. The smaller the period of time for each job then the less the problem of sharing payment and responsibility could become. (ii) Introduction of flexible working hours could create the difficulties of shortage and/or excess of supply of work within the production flow with interdependent operations; the extent of the problem could vary with the amount of work in progress and the period of time spent by each operative on the garment and/or its parts. Economic (i) Garment cost elements are material, labour, variable and fixed overheads (survey averages 50.6%, 24.9%, 8% and 16.5%), of which labour and variable overheads would be affected by introducing multiple shifts and only fixed overheads by flexible working hours. There should be a decrease in variable overheads per garment because of sharing a fixed amount of cost between shifts, an increase in labour cost due to shift premium and an increase in fixed overheads because of longer opening hours of the plant on flexible working hours. (ii) The capital employed on plant and machinery, C, could often be divided by the number of shifts so that this could help to increase profitability by a factor of 2 or 3. (iii) General formulae were established, using the most relevant variables, for calculating the profitability and profitability ratios of different working schemes. Generally, if the number of shifts are increased then the profitability of the plant could be very greatly increased. This was well illustrated from the calculated profitability ratios of about 2 and 3 respectively, when industrial survey values were used, for 2 and 3 shift systems replacing a single shift system. Profitability of flexible working hours would, theoretically, be less than that of single shift, but there might be some economic gains, such as reduced rates of labour turnover and absenteeism (which are currently high in the garment industry), arising from the introduction of flexible working hours.Iranian Ministry of Science and Higher Education and\ud Teheran Polytechni
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