The walls of our new extension are going up fast. It’s fascinating to watch how quickly they grow under the bricklayers hands.
In part this is because the bricklayer is good. He’s fast, accurate and meticulous.
But at least as much of the speed is due to the parallel activities of his labourer, who systematically ensures that blocks, bricks and mortar are to hand before the bricklayer needs them. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. As the wall grows, ‘to hand’ moves from atop a stack of blocks, to sat on a hop-up, to set out on a high platform rigged from trestles and scaffold boards.
It’s a whole construction/deconstruction/reconstruction process in its own right, that requires brains as well brawn, yet will leave no trace once the wall is finished. All so the bricklayer can do nothing but exercise his considerable skill.
This labouring role may be lower paid, and lower status, but it is essential if you want to get the most out of a bricklayer. In essence, the labourer’s product is the productivity of the bricklayer.
Perhaps this should inform how this kind of work is rewarded?