Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

The convening of the trade union congress is also used by the Women's Trade Union League as a time for holding a separate conference of all the delegates representing trades in which there are women workers. In 1907 this annual conference was attended by over 250 delegates, and the following resolutions, directly bearing upon the amelioration of labor conditions for women, were passed and laid before the home secretary by a deputation from the committee:

That this conference of trade-unionists, representing trades in which women are employed, condemns the action of the Government by which a weak and confused measure dealing with laundries has been passed into law, and maintains that no amending measure will be satisfactory to labor which does not extend to laundries the full protection accorded to other factories and workshops.

That this conference of trade-unionists, representing trades in which women are employed, in view of the powerlessness of existing truck laws to check fining, and the number of cases in which deductions are made by employers from workers' wages to meet the cost of insurance under the workmen's Compensation Act, asks for an immediate report from the committee appointed to inquire into the working of the Truck Act.

There is, besides, always a public meeting of women workers of the district in which the congress is held. These meetings are addressed by labor representatives in Parliament and by the leaders of the women's trade union movement, and the result is sometimes the formation of a new union and always a strengthening of membership in the existing organization.

The expense of sending delegates to the trade union congress is inconsiderable and not a drain upon the resources of even so small an organization as the National Federation of Women Workers. The subscription fee is £1 10s. ($7.30) for every 1,000 or fraction thereof of the numerical strength of the society, with 10s. ($2.43) for each delegate, (a) this representation being based on 1 delegate for every 2,000 members or fraction thereof. The National Federation of Women Workers, with its membership of 3,000, sent two delegates to the last congress (1908) at a cost of £5 10s. ($26.77).

a The congress shall consist of delegates who are or have been bona fide workers at the trade which they represent, and are legal members of trade societies; but no person can be a delegate to the Trade Union Congress unless he is actually working at his trade at the time of appointment, or is a permanent paid working official of his trade union. No representative shall be accepted as bona fide other than direct representation from trade unions. The delegate's name, together with the amount of his society's contribution, shall be forwarded to the secretary of the parliamentary committee 14 days prior to the meeting of congress.-Section 3 of the Trade Union Congress standing orders.

ADVANTAGES OF AFFILIATION WITH THE GENERAL FEDERATION

OF TRADE UNIONS.

But this expenditure, of course, does not bring any direct monetary benefit as does affiliation with the General Federation of Trade Unions.

This national federation has two scales of contribution. Societies joining on the higher scale pay an entrance fee of 6d. (12 cents) per member, and those on the lower, 3d. (6 cents) per member. Each society pays for 90 per cent of its total membership; each society entering on the higher scale pays quarterly the sum of 4d. (8 cents) per member on 90 per cent; each society on the lower scale pays quarterly 2d. (4 cents) per member on 90 per cent. The benefit payment in strikes is 5s. ($1.22) per member on the higher scale, and 2s. 6d. (61 cents) per member on the lower. So that, to use again the National Federation of Women Workers as an illustration, because it is the only society composed solely of female members affiliated with the General Federation of Trade Unions, while the entrance fee on the lower scale was £42 17s. 6d. ($208.65) and the contributions for the two remaining quarters of the year ending March 31, 1908, in which it joined, amounted to £69 ($335.79), the women in the small unions composing the National Federation of Women Workers have now the financial backing of the £162,210 8s. 6d. ($789,397.03) in the fund of the General Federation of Trade Unions, should a strike become inevitable.

In the separate women's unions, the usual entrance fee is 6d. (12 cents) with usually two rates of subscription and benefit-2d. (4 cents) per week entitling a member to a grant of 4s. (97 cents) per week for a period of six weeks, if unemployed or sick (confinement cases excepted), in any 52 weeks, and 3d. (6 cents) per week entitling a member to 6s. ($1.46) per week under the same conditions. The following variation is also a typical scale of payment:

Per week. The subscription is--

$0. 0608 Sick benefit: For the first 10 weeks.

1. 4600 For the second 10 weeks.

.9733 Out-of-work benefit: For the first 6 weeks..

1. 4600 For the second 6 weeks.

. 9733 The National Association of Telephone Operators has a still lower scale of contribution of 1 d. (3 cents) weekly, which entitles a member to all the benefits of the association except sick and out-of-work benefits, with the proviso that “the committee shall have power to make a special grant to members under this class, when sick or unemployed, should the circumstances warrant such a course.”

The National Federation of Women Workers deals with this class of payments as follows:

Class A (1d. (2 cents) per week) shall entitle to trade protection: (a) Assistance generally in raising wages and improving working conditions; (6) free legal advice; (c) financial support (the amount of which shall be determined by the central council, with due regard to all the circumstances of the case) in the case of a strike or lockout, provided the action of the members affected has been indorsed by the central council of the federation.

In the unions of mixed membership, as in the textile trades, the basis of payment is usually the rate of earnings and the table below, showing contributions and benefits in the Card, Blowing, Ring, and Throstle Room Operatives' Association, of Bolton, is a characteristic arrangement:

CONTRIBUTIONS AND BENEFITS IN THE BOLTON AND DISTRICT CARD, BLOW.

ING, RING, AND THROSTLE-ROOM OPERATIVES' ASSOCIATION.

[graphic]

Weekly contri- Benefits derived from the associbutions

ation.

Weekly

Weekly pay on Il work

pay on account ing less

account of than 26 It work-hours in Weekly

of fail-breakWeekly

ures downs Basis of payments.

out-ofing 26 1 week, strike,

and work

and or more after victim,

fires stophours having or lock- pay 13

for 36 pages in 1 paid 26 out

weeks
in one

work-for 36 week. weeks' рау. .

ing

year. full

work

days in ing contri

calen- days in butions

dar calenyear.

dar

year. Males earning 20s. (84.87) or more for a week of 554 hours (a):

$0.24 $0.02 $2.68 $2.43 $2.43 $2. 43 Males earning 208. (84.87) or more for a week of 554 hours

2.68

2. 43 2. 43 Males earning less than 20s. (84.87) for a week of 555 hours.

.12
2. 43

1.95 1.95 Females earning 12s. ($2.92) or more for a week of 551 hours.

12 02 2. 43

1.95 1. 95 Females earning less than 12s. ($2.92) for a week 551 hours

.08 02 1. 95

1. 46 1. 46 Learners not earning any wage at all.

.02 02

1. 46 73 121. 66 29. 20 14. 60 4. 87 Learners not earning any wage at all.

14. 60 e It should be noted that the payment of an additional contribution of 3d. (6 cents) in this class secures, in addition to the other benefits, a weekly out-of-work benefit of 10s. ($2.43), payable for 13 weeks in one year.

The Amalgamated Union of Shop Assistants, Warehousemen, and Clerks has an entrance fee of 1s. (24 cents) and a more varied and higher scale of contribution, and the gradations are in regard to the member's age as well as wages.

CONTRIBUTIONS AND BENEFITS IN THE NATIONAL AMALGAMATED UNION OF

SHOP ASSISTANTS, WAREHOUSEMEN, AND CLERKS.

["C_” scale open to women who declare their wages to be equal to 25s. ($6.08) per week.

“D” scale open to men who declare their wages to be equal to 35s. ($8.52) per week.)

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed][subsumed]

For the year 1907 there was paid out in benefits by this union £12,218 19s. 3d. ($59,463.58), but there were two prolonged strikes, which alone necessitated £1,307 6d. ($6,360.64) in unemployment pay.

Labor disputes between shop assistants and the employers are, however, extremely small as compared with the area of trade affected by a general disagreement as to wages throughout the cotton textile industries of Lancashire, in which, it will be remembered, more women than men are employed.

On November 5, 1892, the spinning companies of Lancashire locked out some 40,000 persons employed in preparing and spinning cotton, and as a result of this stoppage in the spinning department fully 20,000 operatives in the weaving department were also thrown out of work. After a total stoppage of five months work was resumed at a reduction of practically 3 per cent.

From the momentous conference between representatives from the employers' and the operatives' sides and the final all-night sitting which settled the strike came the agreement which has since governed the trade. This is known as the “ Brooklands agreement,” and the clauses given below show its forceful provision for conciliatory methods of settling disputes:

That in future no local employers' association, nor the Federated Association of Employers, on the one hand, nor any trade union or federation of trades unions on the other hand, shall countenance, encourage, or support any lockout or strike which may arise from, or be caused by any question, difference, or dispute, contention, grievance, or complaint, with respect to work, wages, or any other matter, unless and until the same has been submitted in writing by the secretary of the local employers' association to the secretary of the local trades union, or by the secretary of the local trades union to the secretary of the local employers' association, as the case may be; nor unless and until such secretaries or a committee consisting of three representatives of the local trades union with their secretary, and three representatives of the employers' association with their secretary, shall have failed, after full inquiry, to settle and arrange such question, difference, or dispute, contention, complaint, or grievance, within the space of seven days from the receipt of the communication in writing aforesaid; nor unless and until, failing the last-mentioned settlement or arrangement, if either of the secretaries of the local trades union or local employers' association shall so deem it advisable, a committee consisting of four representatives of the Federated Association of Employers, with their secretary, and four representatives of the Amalgamated Association of the Operatives' Trade Unions, with their secretary, shall have failed to settle or arrange, as aforesaid, within the further space of seven days from the time when such matter was referred to them, provided always that the secretaries or the committees hereinbefore mentioned, as the case may be, shall have power to extend or enlarge the said periods of seven days whenever they may deem it expedient or desirable to do so.(a)

Besides this agreement there is in these textile trades a voluntary board of arbitration called the “ Joint Committee of Employers and Operatives in Cotton Weaving Industry in North and Northeast Lancashire,” the object of which is to consider in their preliminary stages all trade disputes occurring in the weaving department and coming within the knowledge of the officials of the operatives' amalgamation, with a view to preserving good feeling between employers and operatives; and to recourse to these two tribunals the women workers in cotton industries owe the general peace of wage conditions for fifteen years.

In 1908, however, another acute situation over the cotton spinning wage scale developed in Lancashire and proceedings under the Brooklands agreement were for a time sterile of trade settlement. The operatives offered dogged resistance to the 5 per cent -reduction in wages proposed by the employers, and the conciliation conference having ended in failure, there was an army of cotton operatives

a Report on Rules of Voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Boards, p. 168. Board of Trade. 1907.

« ForrigeFortsett »