Imagens das páginas

tion by all parties; the funds from which benefits were to be drawn must be provided by the workman, his employer, and, in the case of old-age pensions and invalidity benefits, the state. Compulsory thrift must be demanded of the workman, liability be recognized by the employer, and aid given by the state, since the state benefited by reason of the improved circumstances of its subjects. Let us glance at the details of the various schemes.

(1) Sickness insurance, initiated in 1883 and extended in later years. This applied to all manual workers in factories, mines, transport, and building industries, and to most other workers receiving under £100 a year. Contributions amounted to about 2 per cent. of the workman's wages, of which the employee paid two-thirds, the employer one-third. In case of sickness, from half to three-quarters of the man's wages were paid to him up to the end of 26 weeks (after which he went on to the accident fund described in the next paragraph), with medical care, medicine, and hospital treatment provided free.

(2) Accident insurance, initiated in 1884 and subsequently extended to nearly all trades. The contributions for this insurance were paid entirely by the employers, on the principle that employers should be liable for accidents to their workpeople. On the other hand, the victim of an accident counted for the first 13 weeks of his disablement as a "sick person,

" and drew benefits from the sickness fund. By the end of this time he had in most cases recovered; but should this not be so, he came on to the accidents fund, drawing free treatment, appliances, and two-thirds of his wages so long as he was incapacitated. If rendered totally helpless for life, he was to receive full wages, and if the accident proved to be fatal compensation included burial money, equivalent to three weeks' wages, and a pension to the dependents, ranging, according to the number of children, up to 60 per cent. of the deceased's wages. In practice all the serious accidents came on to the accidents fund, and often drew benefits for a long time; and as the fund was provided by the employers great care was taken by them in fencing machinery and guarding against all possible accidents.

(3) Invalidity and old-age pensions, initiated in 1889. This last scheme, when amended in 1899 and 1911, applied to all wage-earners over 16 years and all salary-earners who received less than £100 a year. Its object was to provide for (a) the person who through illness became an “invalid”-i.e., unable to earn one-third of the usual wage; (b) the aged-i.e., those over 70. To benefit as an invalid, a person must have paid contributions for five years; to benefit as an old-age pensioner payments must be kept up for 30 years. Wage-earners were divided up into five classes, according to their earnings, and contributions and benefits were in five grades. The former ranged from 14d. to 4d. a week, of which employer and employee each paid half. To this sum the state added something, and thus a large fund was created from which invalids and old people drew benefits proportionate to the contributions they had been making. In practice most people began to receive benefits before they reached 70; in 1910 there were only 100,000 old-age pensioners, but the number of invalids was nearly 900,000. Between 1891 and 1911 about £70,000,000 was paid out.

Germany never regretted her experiments, but constantly widened their scope to include maternity benefits, pensions for widows, insurance for home workers, agricultural labourers, etc. None of the schemes yielded any profit to the state, and in recent years a strong demand has arisen that the state take up the more profitable parts of insurance-fire, life, burglary, etc.



Germany's insurance work was' a social lesson to the world, and most European countries took it to heart. Austria, France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and finally England followed more or less faithfully in Bismarck's footsteps. England, Denmark, and Australia departed from the German scheme in providing non-contributory old-age pensions; England used a Workmen's Compensation Act in place of an accident insurance scheme, and established unemployment insurance, a thing the German government left severely alone.

The credit for introducing unemployment insurance belongs to a Belgian town, Ghent. In that city the trade unions were endeavouring to raise a fund among their members to provide for unemployment, but the amount which each man could afford was so small that little good could be done. In 1900, therefore, the municipality decided to subsidize any efforts made by the workmen, 'either individually or through trade unions. The amount of municipal relief was not to exceed that derived from the workmen's own insurance; but the knowledge that this supplementary relief was available greatly stimulated the efforts of wage-earners to insure against spells of unemployment. The scheme has been most satisfactory, has been copied by all the other Belgian industrial centres, and has received financial support from the central Government.

Factory Laws in Other Countries. For a long time Belgian industries were almost devoid of any regulation, and the worst features of factory life prevailed. In 1886, after a revolutionary upheaval in the industrial centres, a beginning was made. Progress was very slow, and an enquiry made in 1895 showed that 35 per cent. of the industrial workers were employed seven days per week. Not till 1905 was Sunday work forbidden, and women were employed in night work until 1911. The labour laws of France began in 1841, grew steadily, and were codified in 1908 and subsequent years. They present no features of special interest.

Turning from Europe to the United States, we find very little attention to industrial conditions until the latter part of last century. True, in some states, legislation existed from about 1850; an Act of 1851 forbade any child under 10 years to work in New Jersey factories, and from 10 to 21 years a 60-hour maximum week was prescribed. But much of this legislation was disregarded by the employers and unknown to the employees. In the early part of the present century the prevailing individualist creed gave place to a growing sense of social needs. America began to realize that in her keenness for producing wealth she had omitted to consider the conditions under which that wealth was being created. Strong emotional agitations were organized against sweating, consumers' leagues were formed to boycott all disreputable employers or salesmen, and the trade unionists began to turn their eyes in the direction of industrial legislation. Out of this many-sided agitation reform emerged in most states, and the ordinary European legislation was copied, though only after encountering the most bitter opposition.

Having come late into the field, America in some respects has gone far beyond other countries in her enactments. In some of the western states wages boards were established, and in others a distinction was drawn between male and female workers, males being allowed to begin work at 14, while females are kept out of the factory until they reach 15 years. But the most interesting American innovation was that of “Mothers' Pensions,” the principle of which has been admitted in over 30 states. America, like other countries, was faced with the problem of the widow who is compelled to go to work, either neglecting her children or leaving them in the charge of some other person. It was felt that the state would make a good investment if it gave the mother a maintenance allowance for each child up to the age of 14 or 15. This allowance as a rule amounts to about 10/- per child per week. As a result of this grant the mother is able to stop at home and keep her home tidy and comfortable, her children can remain at school until they reach the proper age, and the state finds it is much cheaper to let these children live at home instead of in a Home. Grants to mothers are cheaper than grants to institutions, and home life is by this scheme enabled to survive the misfortunes which spring from the death of the father.

Of other countries little can be said. The last 30 years have seen two big Asiatic countries—India and Japan-pass under modern industrial conditions. India began her factory legislation in 1881, but did not establish a compreliensive scheme of regulation until 1910. Japan made no provision for her workpeople until 1910, but since that date some important factory acts have been passed. Child labour in heavy work is prohibited, the employment of children under 12 years of age is forbidden; male workers under 15 years and females of any age are not allowed to work for more than 12 hours daily, or do night work, and must have two days holiday each month. Provisions for workmen's compensation are prescribed, but apart from this male adult labour is virtually unregulated.

Industrial Fatigue. The stimulus to factory reform in the early days was largely humanitarian, and many men advocated industrial legislation although they believed that by so doing they were restricting output and injuring the employer. The only economic benefit of regulation seemed to be that bad employers would have to observe the same rules as good ones, and hence the reputable employer would not be penalized in his costs of production because he gave better conditions and shorter hours. During recent years a quite different argument has become possible, and to-day shorter hours, sanitary and safe conditions, etc., are advocated not merely because they are good for the worker, but because they are good for the employer and for efficient production. The study of industrial fatigue has made great strides since 1910, and official investigations in Great Britain and America during the War reached conclusions which have influenced the whole outlook on working conditions.

It is now realized that output depends for its volume and quality on the reduction or elimination of fatigue. Several questions at once arise. (1) What is the best length of working day? The evidence all shows that in the long run the 48-hour week is more productive than one of 55 or 60 hours, but there is no adequate information yet to show the effect of reduction below 48 hours. Long hours mean smaller output and more accidents. Work before breakfast and persistent overtime are uneconomical, and some employers have found that work on Saturday morning is not worth the price paid for it. (2) What is the best length of working spell? The factory laws often forbid women and young persons to work more than 41 hours without a rest, but research has shown that this period is too long. Short rest pauses at the end of two hours' work, or even of one hour's work if the task is strenuous, help to avoid fatigue, and the output lost during the rest period is more than made up by the increased rate of production which follows the pause. (3) What conditions surrounding the work and the worker are injurious and uneconomical ? This question opens up the whole problem of industrial hygiene, including matters of lighting, temperature, ventilation, the removal of dust and fumes, the provision of seats, rest rooms, suitable working clothes, facilities for obtaining proper meals at the midday interval, etc. It involves the study of the effect of different kinds of work on different sorts of workers, especially on women.

The study of industrial fatigue is producing two important results. It makes available a mass of information on which the state can base further legislation. It gives to employers certain guiding principles on which they can formulate a policy of employment far in advance of the minimum conditions prescribed by law. The wage-earner is thus enabled to do his work in an environment and in a manner which involve far less wear and tear to his physique than was possible in the bad old days of the early 19th century.

International Uniformity in Labour Legislation. While factory acts tried to establish standard conditions among competing firms in any one country, it was often felt that some degree of international uniformity was desirable. Countries with advanced legislation feared the effects of competition from lands where labour laws were backward or non-existent. In 1890 an international convention at Berlin approved a few simple provisions, such as the non-employment of children in mines; a similar convention in 1906 recommended that women be forbidden to do night work in factories and that the use of phosphorus for making matches be forbidden. Beyond this little was done until 1919. The peace treaty of that year contained a section on labour conditions, and provided for the calling of an international conference in Washington to discuss the problem of uniform labour legislation. A special branch of the League of Nations organization was also established to deal with the matter. The Washington Conference (October, 1919) was attended by delegates, representing governments, capital, and labour, from 41 states. It discussed working hours, unemployment, and the employment of women and children; it ordered a special conference to be held at Genoa in 1920 to deal with the hours and conditions of seamen. Many difficult points arose; for instance, could Japan be asked to bring her labour laws at one bound up to the standard prevailing in Europe and America ? The conference by a small majority over-ruled the labour representatives and decided that Japan could not be expected to take such a drastic step. In appearance the conferences at Genoa and Washington seemed to achieve little; but the mere fact that such meetings were held was a big advance on all previous attempts to reach international standards; the whole future of the labour provisions of the treaty is wrapped up in the success or failure of the League of Nations.

Books Recommended. Hutchins, B. L., and Harrison, A., “History of Factory Legislation”; Ogg, F. A., “Economic Development of Modern Europe," chaps. 17-18, 24-5; Warner, T., “Landmarks in English Industrial History,” chaps. 17-18; Lloyd Jones, “Life of Robert Owen”); Shaftesbury, Lord, “Speeches”; Dawson, W. H., “Evolution of Modern Germany” and “Bismarck and State Socialism”; Goldmark, J., “Fatigue and Efficiency”; Myers, C., “Mind and Work”; Lee, F. S., “The Human Machine''; Hetherington, H. J., “International Labour Legislation.” See also books recommended in Chapter XXV.

[ocr errors]





BEFORE tracing the history of trade unionism in various countries, it may be well to view the movement as a whole, and see the foundations on which it rests, the aims it seeks to achieve, and the types of organization and lines of actior. it has adopted. Trade unions first made their appearance about 1700, but their progress was small until the Industrial Revolution had worked out its first results. During the 19th century growth was chequered until 1850, but after that date the membership rose rapidly and the movement spread over 'Europe, North America, and Australasia. By 1920 there were at least 26,000,000 men and women enrolled in the trade unions of the world, distributed roughly as follows: United Kingdom, 7,000,000; Germany, 7,000,000; other European countries, 6,000,000; British dominions 1,000,000; America, 5,000,000. In this vast army most have enlisted in the hope of gaining some improvement of the conditions under which they work; a few because they regard unionism as an instrument by which economic society can be reconstituted: but all because they desire to obtain by united action benefits which they see little hope of securing by individual effort.

Conditions Creating Unionism. Unionism is the outcome of the stress of many factors. Of these, the chief are as follows:

(1) The creation of a permanent wage-earning class. Before the Industrial Revolution the chasm between capital and labour was so narrow in many industries that it could easily be jumped across. Only a small sum of capital was required in order to set up as independent master-craftsman. Hence the wage-earner in many trades could look forward to the time when his energy and thrift would enable him to become an independent worker, and perhaps even an employer. In new countries somewhat similar conditions prevailed until late in the 19th century. Workmen could fairly easily set up on their own account, or leave industry and take up cheap or free land.

Hence wage-earning was not regarded as a permanent station in life, and effort was therefore directed towards independence rather than to improving one's lot as a hireling.

The situation was changed by the Industrial Revolution and the developments of the 19th century. As machinery and power generators grew large, more complex, and more costly, the hope of eventual freedom became more and more remote. In some industries that freedom may still be secured by dint of hard work and grim abstinence; there are occupations, such as repair work, job printing, and distributing, in which machinery is less important than skill, artistic taste, and business “push”; but in the big staple industries-mining, iron and steel, and transport—the self-made man is becoming rare. And while the wage-earner was being rendered in effect capital-less, he was also becoming landless. In England the enclosure movement and the custom of entail made land hard of access to the poor, and in new countries most of the good cheap fertile land had been disposed of long before the end of the 19th century. Hence there was no escape on to the land except for the men with capital. Here then were

« AnteriorContinuar »