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THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15628, 20 October 1914
THE LABOR MOVEMENT
[By Veteran.] Brief contributions on matters with reference to the Labor Movement are invited. INDUSTRIAL UNREST. • Before the United States of America's Commission on Industrial Relations, Mr t;. W. Perkins (president of the Cigarmakers' International Union), in answer to a question, said he had been president for 22£ years. The next question was: Then you "have been long enough in that position to have some knowledge in regard to industrial unrest and its cause, and possibly have been long enough connected with labor to have some idea of a remedy ? Mr Perkins: My belief, grounded upon a lifetime experience, is that industrial unrest is due largely, primarily and fundamentally, to low wages and long hours ot labor; "the fact that immigrants are lied to before thev come here, cheated and robbed after they get here: and the notion that there is one law for the rich and another for the poor, whether there is any such thing 01 not, figuratively speaking. The experience of labor has led me to believe that in its application there is some Such difference. Another contributing cause is the mad paw at which industrial workers are driven—a pace that kills ."5,000 annually and wounds 2,000,000 111 our industries alone; a pace that kills a like number and wounds a like number in <;ur transportation. The fact that 200,000 people die annually from tuberculosis, a preventable disease, a disease that should not exist among us, is another cause. Also, Ihe fact that 800,000 people die annually rrom preventable diseases, due to occupational disease, is another. . . . lon ask for a cure lor industrial unrest. I wouldn't cure it if I could, and I couldn't if I would. I say that with a full knowledge of the meaning of the word. Industrial unrest, the agitator, and tiie kicker make for the uplift, a better social, economic, and political state, and for advancing civilisation; and were it not for industrial and social unrest there would lie 110 human progress along lines that are good and beneficial for the great mass of working- men and women of our country. I would, however, minimise that unrest to the lowest possible point. That should he along constructive lines. . . . \ou ask how to cure—l haven't a cure—you ask how to minimise this unrest. In my own candid judgment there is only one way to do it. and that is to let the industrial
\\ orkeis organise on one- hand and the employing classes upon the ether. There is an "element of fairness and justice in the human mind, and employers, sociologists, it ad self-constituted guardians of out'morals and social advancement have no corner upon that justice and fairness; there is a ouflicient amount of that vested in the working men and women that will protect them fi'om doing anything that will de,>troy advancing civilisation, or that will destroy society as it exists to-day. The labor organisation that would do the thing that will destroy will destroy itself icfore it has the opportunity to do so. The organisation that is not just and is not fair is doomed—foredoomed to failure. There are enough conservatives in the labor organisations to counterbalance the radicals. Just a word more. Neither this commission nor any living soul on earth • an find a made-to-order remedy for industrial and commercial stagnation. You ,'re wasting your time if you are trying to do so. Yet industrial and commercial stagnation is one of the contributory causes 10 industrial unrest. Industrial and commercial stagnation is caused, not by overproduction, but rather bv tinder-consump-tion. In as plain English as I can state ■t, the working men and women receive less in wages, receive an amount in wages that will not enable them to consume all that which they create, and because of that we have periodical terms of industrial :unl commercial stagnation, which is not due to the personnel of the Government nor its, economic policies. The reinedv? Let the working men and women organise, and through their labor organisations get as near as possible to the margin of profit; they will then be in a. position to consume that which they create, and industrial and i ummereial stagnation will disappear from '.ho haunts of civilised men, leaving, if you please, to the captains of industry their full share of the value- which they create. ******* FREK LABOR. The Rev. R. Balniworth, iu the course of an article in the South African • Worker,' says :—What it* so-called " free labor'"; It is the. system by which the capitalist tries to hire labor on what i'H'ms he pleases, and by which the laborer js olten. compelled. £*Ht* o£ poverty, to sell his labor on thtr capitalist's terms. 'That is, the freedom is mainly ou one. side. The capitalist has usually a balance at the bank. The laborer has usually a wife and children waiting for the wages at home.. The pistol is loaded only on the one side. The trust, the big company, or the capitalist, if he is unscrupulous, says: "Take my terms or leave them.'' The laborer (unless he belongs to a trade vnion), thinking of the wife and children at home, usually takes the terms offered. That is "free labor."' Think of it. How nice! And how delightfully "free"! . . . Let us go back, then, to the beginnings of onr modyr-i industrial system. Take first the. 'evidence of John "Fielden, who lived in tho early days of the cotton manufacturing system." Fielden had worked in his father's mill. He was a capitalist and a cotton manufacturer himself, and he knew what he was talking about. "In the- manufacturing districts," he says, "cruelties the most heartrending' were ntai-tised upon the unoffending and iriendless children, who were consigned to the charge of the master-manufacturers. They were harassed to the brink of death by excessive- labor ; they were Hogged, fettered, tortured in the" most exquisite jerinement of cruelty; they were in many! ,-ases 3tarvcd to the' bone "while floirged to their work, and even in some instances ib?y were driven to commit suicide." The; children worked 12 and sometimes ! 14 hours a day. In busy times they went from mill to bed, and from bed to mill, and their food was so meagre- that ! they were often seen sharing the garbage ! oddments which had been thrown to j the pigs. Tins was "free labor"! Come! down a little later to the time of Lord i Shaftesbury. "1 made it an invariable i iiile," says Lord Shaftesbury, "to see everything with my own eyes, to take nothing on trust or hcaisay. ] examined tho mills, the machinery, the homes. I went down into the pits." What did he tee? JTe saw childivn of .-even years of age working in the mills 14 and i 5 hour* a day. Unable to keep awake for so long, they were kept to their labor by frequent ■beatings with straps, and sometimes nir>ped over head in cold water, lie saw women and children, half-naked, dragline; hand-trucks of coal through the underground passages, in which they could not stand upright. . . . In the northern mannfacturiiiir towns processions were organised _ of "factory" children, stunted, under-sized, under-fed, crippled, to show the effects- of " free labor." And what did the advocates of "free" labor do when these things roused the conscience of the nation? They actually brought medical men before a House of Commons Committee to say that 12 or 14 hours aday in the hot and stuffy atmosphere of a cotton mill was not likely to injure the health of a child. (It was shown that =ome of these children had to walk a distance equal to over 20 miles a clay in the mills, pacing the long "jenny-gate" to f.ttend to the spindks.) The mineowr.ers said they could not work the mines at a profit without child labor, and one member of Parliament declared "that if the hours of !abo. - were abridged he must inevitably close his manufactory." These were th« " free labor" advocates of the lime! Come down to th« present time. During th« last few years two exhibitions of "sweated industries" have been held in London. At- these exhibitions it was foand that in the troiisrr-making, shirt-making, matchbox-making, buttonrarding, laundry work", babies shoemaking, and other" home industries women, «~=~,tim£* with two ' or three children Jo j
maintain, were earning only 7s or 83 per week Often th<sy work ©n Sundays. . . . • I (hare before me as I write statistics compiled by school medical officers in England, covering eomo hundreds of thousands of children. They show that invariably the children in homes that have not a living wage are shrunken, underfed, unhealthy, and leas both in height and weight than children in homes that have a living wage. In eomo districts the difference is startling. . . . For what is this svsteru of " Free labor"? It is nothing but the competitive wage system, or the sweating system under another nam". Listen to what the Rev. Charles Kingsley (who was called an "enemy of society' and other harsh names in his day for denouncing it) say 3of it: " The thing lfl damnable; not Christianity only, but common humanity cries out against it. Woe to those who-dare to outrage in private the principles which they preach in public." John Ruskin savs that only " very senseless persons attempt to determine wages hv competition." Thomas Carlyle calls the system "a fetid nuisance worthy of dogs or of devils." John Stuart Mill, the ablest political economist of his time, whom Gladstone called " the Saint of j Rationalism," says that the difficulties of Communism would be but ns " dust In the \ balance" compared with the injustices of the present system. He was a "declared enemy of society" as at present constituted. William Morris, one of the greatest poets of his time, heaped scorn and contumely upon the system. . . . \et in the lace of these facts, in the face ot history, of experience, of ethics, and the common dictates of justice, the capitalists have the effrontery to raise the cry for " Free labor." Their remedy is to intensify the evil—throw colored men against whites, women acainst men. and children against both in order to increasi the output, intensity competition, glut the market,' and so" produce recurrent crises of over-production and unemployment. They have 110 more vision than a bat. Our aim is to abolish this abominable system._ It i-5 the negation of morality. It " grinds the faces of the poor" and increases the "unearned increments" of the rich. Like slavery, it is a disgrace to civilisation. We intend to destroy it, root and branch, and put .1 juster arid a nobler system in its place ******* NOTES. A L-iboi- man who has given many years of sorvice says that the chief reason why union labor does not accomplish more is distrust. In the first place, workers are slow to organise because they distrust one another's motives. When they do organise they elect officers and distrust them. They appoint committees and are suspicious of them. They require a business agent and select the "man in whom they have the meet confidence, but as soon as they have taken him from the bench and made him their paid servant they begin to watch him, and attribute outrageous corruption to him. Instead of backing up his efforts, jealousy and suspicion begin to pull him down. " He may work 16 hours a day and all day Sunday, and they will talk about hi.- "soft snap." * * * T!'- closest contest ever known in a I'-iriMl election is that of Werriwa. Exi ■ v.. of informal votes there was a total t> -/\olß votes cast on September 5 for lb- iwo candidates. Lynch aind Conroy; vi* :>t. the finish only 6 votes divided the wi"- i"- from the loser. Only 6 of a majority in a poll of 26,318! And yet there are people who say on election days : " Oh. my vote won't matter. It's only one in so many thousands." A majority of 6in a, total' of 26,518! Not many, of course, but quite enough to make all the difference between victory and defeat. Workers, see that your names are on the roll, and see that you exercise your vote. * * •* The Labor agitator's job is about the most thankless job going. Not only is he generally vilified by employers and the indifferent public, who understand nothing about unions, but those for whom he works rarely say "Thank you" for his most zealous efforts (observes the 'lndustrial Banner'). * * * The following motion was carried at a recent meeting of the Federated Millers and Mill Employees' Association (New South Wales branch): —"That this union pledge themselves to relieve individual cases of necessity among our members <">r their dependents arising as a result, of the war, and, further, undertake to do all in their power to assist in every possible way the dependents of those of our members who go to the front, should such assistance unfortunately become necessary." True union mateshtp! * * * The Marine Cooks, Bakers, and Butchers' Association of Australasia and the Commonwealth Steani3liip Owners' Association have entered into a three years' industrial agreement, dating from August 1. The rate of wages to be paid is as follows: Passenger vessels of over 4,000 tone gross register : Chief cook, £l6 a month ; second j cook, £10; extra second cook, £9 10s; ' third cook, £7 10s ; ship's cook, £9 ; assistant ship's cock, £5 10s; steerage cook i£9 s assistant steerage cooks, £5 10s; baker, £l2; assistant bakers, £7 10s; butcher, £9; assistant butcher, £6 10s; scullervman, £6 10s; assistant sculleryman, J&4. Vessels of 4,000 tons and undei": Chief cook, £l4 10s; second cook, £6 10s j third cook. £7 10s: baker, £11; butcher, £8; scullervman, £6 10s. Collier and cargo vessels: 'Cook, £11; assistant cook, £O. Extra payment to be made to galley staff if they have to work in pore after 5.30 p.m. when there are no passengers on board, and if they have to work in port after 6.30 p.m. when there are passengers on board, at the rate of Is per hour per man. * * * Under the. Victorian Chaffcutters' Wages Board award, which comes into operation next month, carters driving one horee are to be paid 48s for a week of 50 hours; carters driving two* horses, 52s a week, and 5s a week extra for every additional horse; all other workmen, 52s for 48 hours' work; foremen in charge of four or more employees, 58s a week; apprentices and improvers under 17 years, 28s; 17 years, 22s 6d; 18 years, 30s ; 19 years, 355; and 20 years, 42s 6d.
THE LABOR MOVEMENT, Issue 15628, 20 October 1914
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