Norman Pilton build gear boxes at Westland and remembers being paid extra for good work

If you became, what shall we say, a better fitter or whatever, then it was up to the foreman and he would say, well, my man is so good he’s worth an extra penny an hour. Then he might recommend you for say, tuppence an hour, or something like that if you went into his good books. You had to be good at your job really to get it but that’s how it worked. Your ability was judged and you’d get an extra penny or something, whatever it might be.

Interviewer: Did you get it?

Yes, I got it. As I say, I had that penny. I said to this chap about it and Roy says “well there’s no need for you to mention that, that you weren’t getting anything” and the next thing I knew, after about a couple of weeks I suppose, there was a penny extra on my wages and then he put it up to tuppence, yes, tuppence an hour then – ability money.

Interviewer: If your ability started to fail though, could you get it (ability money) taken away?

Well, I don’t know. I never ever came upon that. I never heard of anybody losing their ability money. As I say you just got that when you were pretty good really, I suppose.

Interviewer: I suppose it made you work a bit harder, did it?

Oh yes. You know, you thought if I work a bit better still I might get another extra penny or something. It wasn’t a huge amount but it was still that little bit extra you could do with it.

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