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Mining Review 2/5: Push Button Pay (1949)


Warning: screenonline full synopses contain 'spoilers' which give away key plot points. Don't read on if you don't want to know the ending!

The commentary doubles as a synopsis and has therefore been reproduced in full:

Not every miner clocks in and out. But once a week he gets a docket showing how his pay is made up. He compares this with what he thinks, and on Friday hands it in and collects his pay packet.

But the pay, like the coal, doesn't find its own way to the consumer. It's somebody's job. At the end of each week, the clock cards are checked against the official's list, and the shift times are noted down on dockets. At the office of Number 6 Area, East Midlands, there's as much mechanisation as there is at any up-to-date colliery. The feminine touch to the machines converts the times into wages and bonuses.

The dockets are then taken to the card-punching room. For every man's docket, a girl punches holes in a card. These holes, by their position, tell all about his week's work and the wages due to him. Another girl puts the cards into an automatic sorter which uses the holes to deal them into packs according to the collieries and grades. Handy for a game of brag! The packs are then fed into a tabulating machine. This makes up a payroll at the rate of 90 men every minute.

From these payrolls, the pay packets are made up. These machines don't only deal with wages, they also keep account of the output. For every truck of coal that leaves the colliery, a docket is written out by the wayman. Again, a card is punched - this time the holes stand for 'quality', 'weight' and 'destination'. These cards can be sorted to answer almost any query - who bought? how much? of what? - and how much of the pay doesn't go into the pay packet!