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and respectable, and now they enjoy the praise of men who formerly loaded them with abuse. To the cynic it looks as if the comfortable classes do not really care for the happiness of those who work for them, that they like to prate glibly about their philanthropic aspirations, but always carefully avoid supporting any plan that is not foredoomed to failure.
This is the case with the appeal to the lowest stratum of working men and women to combine. They cannot. They have not the necessary qualities within them. We do not expect a cripple who has fallen down to get up again without help. What folly, what dishonest folly, it is to contend that these mental and moral cripples must raise themselves by their own exertions-by their own exertions or not at all. That is the dilemma we put before them, and perhaps to some of us this latter alternative is not altogether unpleasant. It is in many ways a very great advantage to have a large class of semistarving people in our midst, eager to get work and willing to take it at almost any price. Our comforts and luxuries might be quite appreciably dearer if this class were removed or raised into comparative well-being.
Probably many well-intentioned people will be quite shocked at this view of the case, but it is nevertheless a true one. Employers of labour understand it well enough. Recently one of my friends had a few repairing jobs to be done in his house, and was advised by a friendly builder to look out for some man who had been out of work for a long time, because such a man would be willing to do the job cheaper. It is seldom that the position is so brutally stated as this, but it is, nevertheless, daily acted upon. We can, in fact, none of us free ourselves from the responsibility of such practices as these. The whole of our commercial system is based on the principle of buying in the cheapest market, and in its ultimate outcome this means robbing the poor because of their poverty.'
We cannot to-day or to-morrow get rid of this hideous system, but we can at once tone down its worst features. And the best and most practical way of proceeding is to extend the benefits of our factory legislation to those classes who are now outside the scope of these admirable laws. From 1802 down to a few years ago these laws have gradually been extended from point to point, and made constantly more effective. Every advance was opposed by the interested clamour of short-sighted employers and the silly sophistries of half-boiled economists. Now there is no economist in this or any other country who does not recognise the immense value of this long series of Factory Acts, while all the best employers are unanimous in favour of restrictions by which they as well as their workmen are protected from unscrupulous competitors.
In 1878 these numerous statutes were consolidated into one Act, and since then, as far as England is concerned, there has been no
change. The principal points of the Factory and Workshop Act of 1878 are :
1. All factories, and all workshops 3 where young persons are employed, must be properly ventilated and periodically whitewashed.
2. All dangerous machinery must be securely fenced.
3. The hours of labour for women and young persons under 18 are limited—a) in textile factories to a maximum of 564 hours a week; (b) in non-textile factories, and in workshops where children or young persons are employed, to a maximum of 60 hours a week, with permission to work 11 hour overtime 48 days a-year. (C) In workshops where only adult women are employed to 65 hours a week.
4. Children under thirteen are half-timers, unless they have passed the fourth school standard, when they may begin full time work at twelve.
5. Children under 10 must not be employed in any manufacturing process.
6. Women and children inust not be employed between 9 P.M. and 6 A.M.; they must have eight half-holidays, or four whole holidays in the year, besides Sundays, Christmas Day, and Good Friday.
These provisions, which are admirable in spirit, would be even more valuable in practice than they now are if there were a larger staff of inspectors to enforce them. The present staff of fifty inspectors and sub-inspectors for the whole of the United Kingdom is numerically quite inadequate for the work to be done. But, apart from better inspection, we need extended provisions. The first point is the abandonment of the triple distinction between textile factories, non-textile factories, and workshops. These distinctions are survivals which mark the gradual growth of factory legislation, and have no other than this historical justification. If it is right to insist that an adult male shall not work in an unwhitewashed factory,' it is equally important to prevent him working in an unwhitewashed workshop;' and there is no reason why a woman who may only work 563 hours a week in a textile factory should be allowed to work 60 hours at a possibly more exhausting occupation in a nontextile factory next door.
In this connection arises the important question of overtime. It must be conceded that there are certain trades in which occasional overtime is a necessity, but in many more, where it is frequently practised, it could as easily be dispensed with. Mr. Lakeman, that most energetic of factory inspectors, has frequently stated, as the result of his long experience in watching almost every industry in the kingdom, that overtime is in most trades an utterly unnecessary evil. If customers knew that overtime was absolutely prohibited, they would give their orders longer in advance, and trade would go on every bit as well, and much more regularly than before. The importance of this question may be understood by noticing that the legal allowance of overtime is 72 hours a year, or more than a week's extra work in the twelve months.
3 A factory is distinguished from a workshop by the presence of steam or other mechanical motive power.
These two reforms would very much improve the existing law, but what is even more important is to bring within the scope of the Act the large classes of persons now outside it. In other words the Factory Acts must be extended so as to include all wage-earners of either sex who are engaged in any kind of manual * occupation.
We have already pointed out that a large number of women—waitresses, shop-assistants, washerwomen, &c.—have no protection of any sort from the factory law, and are consequently often compelled to work cruelly long hours at miserably low wages. Their case for relief is an obvious one.
The case for men would be equally obvious were it not for the wonderful dogma that has somehow got on to the tongue of the politician and the pen of the journalist, that an adult male is a semisacred being, who must be allowed to ruin his own health and the wel. fare of his fellow-workmen whenever it pleases his Supreme Holiness to do so. As a matter of fact the average working man is by no means holy, and only intelligent along a few limited paths. What more can we expect from a man whose whole day is spent in exbausting toil, ever overshadowed by the fear of discharge ?
Qui baignant de sueur chaque morceau de pain,
And yet this is the man to whom is entrusted the ultimate government of the British Empire. Even the poorest and stupidest labourer has a vote, provided he be a householder ; but he has absolutely no leisure to study the questions on which he is empowered to give a final decision.
“Yes,' says the doctrinaire politician of the Manchester school; all this is true enough; we should be glad to see a shorter day if only the workman would win it for himself by his individual effort.' 0 sancta simplicitas! Let anyone who has seen anything of working men and their masters try to imagine the spectacle of the individual working man going up to the manager of a large business and saying, 'I disapprove of long hours and must insist on your working shorter time.' Even the laisser-faire politician can now see the absurdity of such a situation he could not twenty years ago—and now he falls
+ The reason for excluding mental workers is, first, that they are already in such a relatively good position that they need no protection ; secondly, that it would be impossible to detect infringements of a law restricting their labour, and therefore futile to pass it. On the other hand copying clerks, whose work is generally quite mechanical, ought to have protection every bit as much as other manual labourers.
5 Waitresses in Aërated Bread shops are on duty seventy-two hours a week; marimum wages 108.
back on the plea for trades'-union action. It has already been shown that not one man in ten is a member of any kind of trade society, and probably not half of these are morally capable of taking an effective part in any serious industrial struggle.
If therefore working men are to be protected against overwork it must be through legislative action. Already the law forbids the adult male to work in an unsanitary factory; already it indirectly limits his labour in numerous industries by limiting the working hours of women; and therefore to impose limits on his working time in all wageearning occupations is merely an extension of principles already established. To say that such further legislative interference will destroy the workman's self-respect and render him a flabby being, dependent on Government support, is to show a want of appreciation of the real effect of seasonable aid to people who cannot help themselves. A young tree is not rendered flabby because it is propped up against the wind by a stake. And men whose lives are now the sport of the chopping winds of commercial speculation will not grow weaker because they are lifted up by a power outside them. On the contrary, in the leisure that the law will give them they will find their first chance of becoming strong-mentally, morally, physically.
To recapitulate, then, the first step we ask for is the extension of the present Factory Act to all wage-workers of either sex. But this is only a step, and an Eight Hours Act is only a step. The real point to be insisted on is this, that we must be prepared to enforce by legislative action a progressive reduction of the hours of labour, in order to keep pace with the progressive development of laboursaving machinery and of industrial organisation. Further, it must be bome in mind that this question is not merely a national, but an international, one. For industrial purposes, England, France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States really form one country, and neither hostile tariffs nor disguised bounties can destroy their solidarity. Whatever affects one, affects all.
To-day all these nations are face to face with one great problem, How to get rid of the poverty of the masses. During the last twenty years the means of production in the group of countries enumerated have increased enormously, but poverty still continues almost as great as before. The main reason is that the benefits of machinery have not been distributed over a wide-enough area.
The happy owners of new machines have increased their profits by diminishing their labour bill, but the men thrown out of work cease to be consumers at the same time that they cease to be producers. Consequently the market becomes restricted, and the increased power of production is wasted for want of increased power of consumption; shoe factories and cotton mills are standing idle, while hungry men are pacing the streets shoeless and shirtless. The only remedy is to bring these men and women back into employ, and that can only VOL. XXVI.—No. 149.
be done by a progressive and compulsory limitation of the normal working day.
In this way, and in this way alone, can we kill poverty. For the people who will be thus endowed with leisure, free from anxiety, will not long continue to find their main recreation in the pothouse, or to indulge without stint in reckless procreation. With increased opportunities, increased wants will arise. Working men and women will want better clothes and better food and better houses, more books and pictures, better music-halls and theatres, circuses and concerts, more frequent and more extended travel. The problem will then be not how to limit production, but how to keep pace with the ever-growing demands of the million. There will be room for all to work, but time for all to play. And the progress of machinery, instead of being attended with the curses of a starving proletariat, will be welcomed as the great benefactor of the human race, created by mankind for man, bringing to each one of us the means of enjoyment and the leisure to enjoy.