« ForrigeFortsett »
changes, which cannot properly be considered as counterbalancing each other.
At the present time satisfactory and reliable statistics are available for only a very few industries. We have no adequate record of the changes which are taking place from month to month in the symptomatic manufacturing industries and in the wholesale and retail trades. But before we can thoroly understand the complex causes of industrial crises, we must know vastly more of the actual conditions in various industries and trades. Possibly we shall no longer have serious panics, thanks to our new banking system; but we shall unquestionably be subject to fluctuations in industry, and probably crises will recur from time to time. Measures to prevent serious depression must reach much farther than to the banking system. Altho crises are manifested most strikingly in the financial field, which serves to bind together the whole business world, they have their roots and causes in industrial conditions. Hence the sooner the collection of more comprehensive statistical records for industry and trade is begun, the earlier can we acquire a thoro knowledge of the fundamental forces which affect business prosperity.
MELVIN T. COPELAND.
WAGES BOARDS IN AUSTRALIA:
IV. SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC RESULTS OF
Introduction, 563. — 1. The abolition of sweating, 564. elimination of home work, 569.-2. Wages and working conditions, 572. Are wages brought to a level by wages boards? 578.-3. The displacement of labor, 583. The old and slow workers, 584. - Displacement of men by women, 591. Of women by men, 592. — Of Europeans by Chinese, 594. 4. Effects on industry and industrial growth, 596. Competition with other states, 600. The limitation of apprentices, 602.-5. The growth of trade unions, 606. - 6. Relations between employers and employees, 610. The infrequency of strikes, 611.-7. Enforcement of wages board legislation, 617. — 8. Public opinion and the wages boards, 621. - Wages boards v. Compulsory arbitration, 627.
IN attempting to evaluate the work of the wages boards or to describe the results which this mode of wage regulation has had on the prosperity and welfare of the people, we must guard against the assumption that we can speak with certainty as to the final consequences of this legislation. As Sir Henry Wrixon said 1 when the continuation bill was up for discussion in Parliament in 1900, the real operations of such laws are not revealed in a few years and may not surely be known in the course of one generation.
While fully admitting the tentative character of our conclusions, we may nevertheless say that the eighteen years of experience which the state of Victoria has had with wages boards offers the safest basis on which to form an opinion as to the results of this method of wage
1 See this Journal for November, 1914, p. 40.
regulation. For not only has the Victorian experience been of longer duration than that of other states but it has been on a more extended scale and has persisted along the same lines from the beginning. South Australia and Queensland, after several futile efforts to inaugurate the wages boards system and after several years of more or less successful operation of their laws, have seriously modified if not transformed their plans by the introduction of compulsory arbitration. New South Wales added the special boards to her arbitration scheme but has never been free from the influence of the arbitration court. The experiences of Tasmania, Great Britain and some of our own states with wages boards have been entirely too brief to satisfy us as to the results. Whenever the experiences of other states and countries show the same results as appear in Victoria, we may say that they serve to strengthen our opinions of the success or failure of the Victorian legislation; but it is the Victorian experience which must afford the main reliance for such conclusions as we are now willing to formulate.
1. The Abolition of Sweating
The intention of the legislatures in all states and countries which have adopted the wages boards plan was to abolish sweating in certain trades and industries. It seems proper, therefore, that we should first inquire: how successful has the law been in accomplishing its main purpose
Mr. Ernest Aves, who visited Australia in 1907, and made a careful investigation for the Home Department of Great Britain into the workings and results of wages boards and arbitration courts, was inclined to the opinion that the wages boards in Victoria had only
partially succeeded in overcoming the sweating evil.1 Conditions, he said, had undoubtedly improved in the various branches of the clothing trade and also in breadmaking, but Mr. Aves felt by no means certain that the improved conditions were due entirely or mainly to the Special Boards and he felt that should a prolonged trade depression occur, some reduction in the average wages paid might be expected to take place, especially among the home workers. On the other hand, he was willing
to admit that the influence of the board rates like a long-established custom, would exercise a healthy restraint on the downward tendency should wage reductions become necessary.
Dr. Robert Schachner, a German economist who spent several years (1905 to 1907) in Australia and New Zealand, studying labor conditions and working part of the time as a laborer in various industries, was also of the opinion that the sweating evil had been only partially overcome. He mentions the women's clothing industries and book-binding as examples of trades in which sweating still continued.2
Much the same opinion seems to have been held by a careful American investigator, Dr. Victor S. Clark, who visited Australia in 1904 in order to conduct an investigation for the United States Bureau of Labor. He gives several instances to show that sweating was still in existence in Melbourne in the clothing trades at the time of his visit but he admits that "the general condition of operatives in these occupations has probably been considerably improved by the act." 3 On the
1 Aves, Report to the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the Wages Boards and Conciliation and Arbitration Acts of Australia and New Zealand (London, 1908), pp. 71-77.
? Schachner, Die Soziale Frage in Australien und Neuseeland (Jena, 1911), p. 244. Clark, Labor Conditions in Australia, Bulletin of United States Bureau of Labor, no. 56 (January, 1905), pp. 71-72.
other hand, another American investigator, Mr. Harris Weinstock, who visited Victoria in 1909, in his report to the Governor of California says: "The consensus of opinion of all interested parties is that wages boards have so largely minimized sweating that it is no longer an evil in Victoria, where the 'sweater' has become a somewhat rare species." 1
The reports of the chief factory inspectors in the Australian states would certainly lead us to believe that sweating had been reduced to a minimum, if not entirely eliminated.
Mr. Harrison Ord, the Chief Inspector for Victoria, after reporting progress in this direction for several years, was able to make the following statement for the (men's) clothing trade as early as 1900:
I venture to affirm that there is now no sweating in the clothing trade in the State of Victoria. . . . In the short space of three years the whole circumstances of the trade have been changed. No complaints are now heard of gross sweating, or of clothes made in miserable homes for a more miserable wage. Many of the difficulties to which I referred in my report of 1898 have disappeared. The Department has little trouble in enforcing the Determination of the Board. The average wage paid will show that the majority of the men and women employed receive more than the minimum wage.2
In the following year (1901) Miss Mead, one of Mr. Ord's inspectors, had this to say concerning the underclothing trade:
No change has been made in the Determination. Manufacturers continue to fix their own piece rates based on 4d. (8 cents) per hour for an average worker. I find that the work is most carefully timed and paid for accordingly. . . . Many of the notorious "sweaters" have settled down to fair prices, a few who at one time gave out work now make it up themselves instead of sub-letting it, while 1 Weinstock, Special Labor Report on Remedies for Strikes and Lockouts (Sacramento, 1910), p. 72.
2 Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories for 1900, p. 17.