Q: We currently pay our finishers by the hour. To reduce production costs, we are thinking of paying them on a “piecework” basis. What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A: There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when deciding on a method of compensation.
If paying on a piecework basis, the amount paid per piece must reflect the level of quality that’s required in a particular plant. Producing a quality, finished garment requires more time, and the result is lower production per hour. An hourly rate usually ensures that the shortcuts that compromise quality are not taken.
'SILK' VS. 'ROUGH' FINISHING
Finishing is usually classified as “silk” and “rough” work. Certain fabrics and garment types that require more time, a greater degree of hand-finishing and a higher level of skill fall into the “silk” classification. Because more time must be taken on these garments, the amount of pieces per hour produced is not as great as “rough” work, which requires less hand-finishing and less time per piece.
One solution is to make sure that each finisher receives a proportionate variety of garments. Often, one finisher is responsible for the silks and the other finishers are responsible for the rough work. The silk finisher may be paid on an hourly basis, while the rough finishers are paid on a piecework basis. If there’s only one finisher in the plant, this isn’t a consideration.
Remember, a “pieceworker” has an investment only in a partially finished garment. If a stain appears on the last “lay” of the garment, will he get paid for it?
The type and condition of machinery and its padding are factors that determine quality and production. Manual utility presses, while capable of producing a quality garment, will usually produce fewer pieces per hour compared to their air-operated counterparts.
While specialty equipment such as toppers and leggers or tensioning equipment may speed production, in some cases quality may be compromised if excessive production quotas are expected.
A properly ventilated finishing department will decrease fatigue on finisher increasing quality and production. An adequate source of lighting will help ensure that production numbers and quality are maintained.
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