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New Left Review I/73, May-June 1972

Michel Bosquet

The ‘Prison Factory’

Try putting 13 little pins in 13 little holes 60 times an hour, eight hours a day. Spot-weld 67 steel plates an hour, then find yourself one day facing a new assembly-line needing 110 an hour. Fit 100 coils to 100 cars every hour; tighten seven bolts three times a minute. Do your work in noise ‘at the safety limit’, in a fine mist of oil, solvent and metal dust. Negotiate for the right to take a piss—or relieve yourself furtively behind a big press so that you don’t break the rhythm and lose your bonus. Speed up to gain the time to blow your nose or get a bit of grit out of your eye. Bolt your sandwich sitting in a pool of grease because the canteen is 10 minutes away and you’ve only got 40 for your lunch-break. As you cross the factory threshold, lose the freedom of opinion, the freedom of speech, the right to meet and associate supposedly guaranteed under the constitution. Obey without arguing, suffer punishment without the right of appeal, get the worst jobs if the manager doesn’t like your face. Try being an assembly-line worker.

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Michel Bosquet, ‘The 'Prison Factory'’, NLR I/73: £3

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