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Under the Leadership of the Working Class

The Shanghai No. 3 Iron and Steel
Works Forges Ahead in Production

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, Vol. 11, #43, Oct. 25, 1968, pp. 16-19.]

SINCE the beginning of the third quarter of this year, the Shanghai No. 3 Iron and Steel Works has chalked up new output records for all its major products. The daily output of converter steel, electric furnace steel and cast steel products has risen by 80, 95 and 247 per cent respectively, compared with the first half of this year. The daily output of other major products has increased from 30 to 50 per cent.

The new look in production at this plant in Shanghai, China’s largest industrial city, is a typical example of the new nationwide upsurge in production brought about at a time when the present great proletarian cultural revolution has entered the stage of seizing all-round victory. This new nationwide achievement in production is the result of the working class, guided by Chairman Mao’s latest series of instructions, playing to the full its leading role in the great cultural revolution and in all fields of work. It comes from the immense emancipation of the productive forces following the working class’ fierce blows directed, in the course of exercising leadership over struggle-criticism-transformation in all units, against all parts of the superstructure which do not conform with the socialist economic base and against the old ideology.

Changing Rules and Regulations

This plant was a key unit under the control of Chen Pi-hsien and Tsao Ti-chiu, agents of China’s Khrushchov in Shanghai. Many revisionist rules and regulations which seriously hampered the development of the productive forces were first tried out here. For instance, the making of stainless steel in electric furnaces uses ordinary techniques, but the capitalist roaders had no faith in the mass of workers; they only trusted the “experts” and “authorities.” They laid it down that no such steel should be made in the absence of technicians, on night shifts, on Sundays, and in new and old furnaces. After the proletarian revolutionaries took power, these old rules and regulations were thrown out. Now such steel is made every day and on every shift. In the past, an electric furnace could only make five or six heats of stainless steel during the period between overhauls and rejects were of frequent occurrence, now such a furnace can make 50 to 60 heats of this steel, all of high quality, between overhauls.

During the time when the plant was controlled by the handful of capitalist roaders in the Party, it set up an unwieldy administrative structure. The plant’s old Party committee and administration had 30 sections. A single production figure had to be recorded by six sections. When a production workshop wanted a figure changed, it had to talk things over with all the six sections.

The so-called technical check-up system was most deeply hated. Numerous technical supervisors in every workshop were specially charged with superintending whether or not the workers were keeping to the technological and operational regulations laid down by the reactionary bourgeois “authorities.” When the workers improved the technological process, the products’ they turned out, even though fully up to standard, were labelled “rejects” because operational regulations had been violated.

Following Chairman Mao’s teachings on “simplifying the administrative structure, changing irrational rules and regulations and sending office workers to the workshops,” the plant’s revolutionary committee mobilized the mass of workers and relied on them for a drastic reform of the management set-up. As a result, some sections were closed or merged and 85 per cent of the office workers were sent to the workshops. At the same time, some outstanding workers were selected to work in the sections. Now representatives of the workers account for 65 per cent of the leading members of the revolutionary committees of the plant and its workshops. In the past, only heads of workshops and sections attended production meetings called by the plant administration. The workers were excluded. Now it has been laid down that the workers’ representatives must participate in such meetings and the opinions of the mass of workers must be heard. In this way, working-class leadership is brought into full play.

Breaking Through the Force of Habit

For a long time in the past, the old Shanghai No. 3 Iron and Steel Works had a so-called “law of production” which was considered hard to change. This was: slow speed work in the first quarter; taking things easy in the second quarter; striving for a steady advance in the third quarter and fighting tooth and nail in the fourth quarter.

At a discussion meeting of the revolutionary committee of the No. 2 converter shop, some workers’ representatives proposed to break away from its old practice of securing a steady daily output of 1,300 tons in the hot months; others even wanted to break the record of 1,835 tons a day set at the beginning of last year when power was being seized from the capitalist roaders in the Party. But those people who were deeply influenced by old habits lacked confidence that these things could be done. They said that there was no precedent for them.

But the workers meant business. Before portraits of Chairman Mao, the workers of the various workshops pledged themselves to grasp revolution and promote production, fight high temperatures and win high outputs, topple conventions and break new ground so as to prove in action their loyalty to Chairman Mao. After studying Vice-Chairman Lin Piao’s elaboration of the thesis that the factors of man and politics are primary among the various factors in combat effectiveness, they further freed themselves from the shackles of old ideas, and a battle to win high outputs in the hot months was set vigorously afoot throughout the plant.

The leading members of the plant’s revolutionary committee appeared with a brand-new look among the workers. Wearing safety helmets and overalls, they fought shoulder to shoulder with the masses. They went to direct the battle wherever there were difficulties. They joined their worker comrades in studying and solving problems wherever these arose.

Chairman Mao says: “Once the correct ideas characteristic of the advanced class are grasped by the masses, these ideas turn into a material force which changes society and changes the world.” This has been fully borne out by facts. Production in the Shanghai No. 3 Iron and Steel Works soared without the addition of a single piece of equipment or of a single man. In the No. 2 converter shop, daily output in late July was 38 per cent higher than in the first six months of this year, and it went on rising sharply to reach a new level of 80 per cent. Daily output of cast steel products rose by a still bigger margin. It jumped to 149 and then to 247 per cent. Every workshop has bettered its daily output record.

“The Lowly Are Most Intelligent”

With iron-clad facts the working class of this plant has refuted the reactionary bourgeois technical “authorities,” overthrown their bourgeois dictatorship over the working class in the fields of production and science and technology and smashed the revisionist philosophy of “going-slow.” This has stimulated the revolutionary initiative of the masses of workers.

A reconstruction of the open-hearth furnace shop has been a major project of the plant in recent years. In order to complete this project ahead of schedule and resume production at an early date, the key lay in shifting the position of two huge chimney stacks. Standing 55 metres high and weighing 230 tons a piece, one had to be moved 30 metres and the other 41 metres. Past practice prescribed that they should be dismantled and rebuilt or laid down horizontally and moved to their new sites for re-erection. Though either of these methods ensured success, they would take more than 50 days to carry through and use up a great deal of manpower and material. Some engineers and technicians consulted many books and data, but failed to discover a better method.

Hearing about this, and after repeated studies based on their own practical experience, the master workers of the lifting section of the mechanical and electrical workshop put forward a bold new plan for a “perpendicular move.” According to this plan, the stacks would be moved safely in a perpendicular position to their new sites and foundations. When this plan was made public, some engineering and technical personnel shook their heads, saying that it was devoid of any theoretical basis. Others were sceptical about it.

Acting on Chairman Mao’s teaching “Do away with all fetishes and superstitions and emancipate the mind,” the worker comrades declared resolutely: “We of the working class armed with Mao Tse-tung’s thought must create even what is not written about in books!” The leading members of the plant’s revolutionary committee and the P.L.A. men helping the Left in the plant gave their full support to the revolutionary creative efforts of the workers. They approved the new plan and together with them carefully examined all the preparatory work. They joined the master workers taking part in the battle in a study of quotations from Chairman Mao and carried out mobilization work before the battle. Finally, the two chimneys were successfully moved perpendicularly to their positions in eight and five hours respectively, thus achieving a miracle rarely seen in the history of liftng work and creating the important condition for repairing the open-hearth furnace ahead of schedule.

To mark this victory, the masses of workers held a celebration meeting and repudiated the plant’s bourgeois reactionary technical “authorities” on the spot. With deep emotion, the master workers said: “By relying on Mao Tse-tung’s thought and the wisdom and strength of the workers, we can perform every miracle! To hell with your philosophies of ‘worshipping everything foreign’ and ‘going-slow’!”

Re-Educating Technical Personnel

Following Chairman Mao’s latest instruction on the workers, peasants and soldiers re-educating intellectuals, the working class of the Shanghai No. 3 Iron and Steel Works puts the technical personnel under its direct leadership and re-educate them through the practice of class struggle and the struggle for production. While giving re-education to the technical personnel, it guides them to play an active part in production.

When one technician was assigned to work on a shift and learn from an apprentice electrician how to operate a switchboard, she was upset and ashamed. The workers, however, saw matters in quite a different light. They regarded this as a very gratifying assignment and the first step to be taken by intellectuals to integrate themselves with the workers. With warmth and sincerity, they educated her and taught her how to do the work. Once this technician got into close touch with reality, she realized how ignorant she was and that the apprentice whom she used to look down upon was much more competent than herself in productive work. She came to see that what was really unbecoming was not being an “apprentice of an apprentice,” but her intellectual’s airs. Her attitude began to change following the change in her ideology. A modest student, she joined the workers conscientiously in the technical revolution and achieved good results.

The working class of this plant has rallied the vast majority of the technicians around itself. By closely integrating themselves with the workers, not a few technicians have contributed to introducing several major technical innovations.

The successful “perpendicular move” of the two chimney stacks was precisely the fruit of a close combination of technicians and workers. When some people said that the plan for the “perpendicular move” was “devoid of any theoretical basis” and clamorously asked, “Who will be held responsible if an accident occurs?”, a technician stepped forward and firmly replied: “I’ll be responsible! The practical experience of the workers is the most reliable theoretical basis!” This technician actively co-operated with the workers in making experiments with models and combining a revolutionary spirit with a scientific approach to put the plan on a completely reliable basis. Acting as deputy director of the project, he fought alongside the workers on the construction site and was warmly praised by them.

Working together with the workers, the revolutionary technicians have succeeded after some experiments in making three successive heats of extra-low-carbon stainless steel up to advanced world standards. They have also successfully improved the technological process of making electric-furnace steel. By reducing it from three to two stages they have nearly doubled output while clipping two hours off the time needed to make a heat of steel.

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