Freddie the Ferret

Freddie, a ferret, is five years old, which is getting along, for a ferret. Freddie lives in Auckland, New Zealand, and enjoys comparative fame and security as one of the very few, if not the only ferret anywhere with a steady job as an electrician’s assistant.

Freddie’s job is comparatively simple, for a ferret. His bosses tie a length of fishing line to his collar; to the fishing line they attach another length of electrical wiring. Then, while Freddie is held at one end of a piece of pipe designed to protect wires, another man, with a dead rabbit and an air compressor, goes to the other end.

The air compressor wafts the scent of the dead rabbit down the pipe to Freddie’s eager nose. Released, Freddie scuttles up the pipe in pursuit of the rabbit, and, simultaneously, lays the wiring. In one morning recently, Freddie laid wiring in 60 pipes, the longest of which was 130 ft. By hand, the job would have taken a human electrician a month, cost $300.*

Freddie’s employers reckoned without the Auckland Local of the New Zealand Electrical Workers union, a potent organization in a country where about half of the wage earners are union members. From George Allbright, secretary of the local, went a letter to the Korma Mills factory where Freddie did a job lately. “The union’s complaints,” said Allbright, “are on the following grounds:  Read Article

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