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and ne'er-do-well, however pitiable he may be, is dealt with distinctly from the genuine worker, no permanent benefit will result to any of them. The gentleman who gets up to look for work at mid-day, and prays that he may not find it, is undeserving of pity. I have seen the most genuine and honest men at meetings mixed up with the laziest and most drunken scoundrels. These latter get together for a purpose : they have but one object, that is pillage-an offence that in critical times would justify the punishment of the perpetrator at the hands of the men who had staked their all in the success of a genuine Labor movement, the success of which, after all, cannot be secured unless the utmost discipline is preserved ; breaches of which in a military or revolutionary movement would meet with heavy penalties.
These Labor Bureaux would probably lead to the trade unions leaving their present meeting-places in public houses and using alternately the rooms of the bureaux, or, as is being done, of the Town Hall, for their meetings: an advantage to labor that in the course of the year would save thousands of pounds now wasted by being spent in drink. Telephonic or other communication between district and district should be arranged. This might be conducted by a Central Labor Exchange to be in conjunction with an Imperial Labor Bureau for Great Britain, utilising the 18,000 post-offices, ascertaining and exchanging the varying local industrial needs. The whole of these arrangements should form part of a Ministry of Labor and Fine Arts, constituted as, or better than, existing departments, and dealing in an organised manner with the industrial, technical, and artistic sides of the production of wealth that are now forgotten in the vulgar scramble for personal gain.
Till these Labour Bureaux are established, when exceptional distress occurs and private charity or public relief has to be disbursed, a committee should be formed in each County Council area, on which representatives of the trade unions, Charity Organisation Society, friendly societies, temperance and other bodies should sit, and, if possible, supplemented by a number of the guardians and vestrymen, whose local knowledge, together with that of the workmen, would be of great service in differentiating the workers from the loafersa necessary and indispensable task. This committee should confine itself to disbursing relief in money or food only to those who through illness or inability to work should have relief, and who refuse to go into the workhouse because their distress was only temporary. The children who need it should be fed at the Board Schools, for whatever their fathers may have done, the children are blameless. The price paid for Ormonde would be more than sufficient to provide London's foodless children with good meals all through the winter. ordinary cases of distress should be left to the existing authorities, and should in no way be interfered with by the committee, except in the case of providing work for the able-bodied willing to take it. The advantages of this representative committee would be the amalgamation of all sorts of sympathies, and the furnishing of such a sufficient conflict of interests and opinions as would secure an impartial distribution of relief, and prevent the overlapping of various agencies and imposture-advantages not always attaching to relief committees of one political, social, or religious view. This unofficial body would undertake temporarily the duties that should fall upon new District and Poor Law Councils that should soon be created on the broadest possible franchise for this and other purposes. If money is subscribed for the relief of the able-bodied, it should be handed over to the local authorities responsible for the cleansing, sanitation, and making of such public works as roads, streets, parks and sewers. The surveyor or engineer should be the responsible authority for the expenditure of this money, and so far as is possible the conditions of hours and wages current at the time should be rigidly observed. The men could be employed at fewer hours per day, or fewer days per week, than ordinarily, so that the aggregate wage earned should be no inducement either to malinger or refuse work elsewhere under ordinary conditions. If the amount of money is sufficient, then the work should proceed as if in that district no exceptional distress existed. The Poor Law Guardians should act in conjunction with this committee, and should hand over to the local authority that amount of money to be spent in useful work or non-pauperising relief that would have been spent in other directions if no such public works had been instituted. At Paddington in 1886 a public committee co-operated with the Guardians and the Vestry and jointly subscribed money for work for 350 men, and gave employment to 133 women on needlework. The advantage of this course is that you distribute over all the men employed, without pauperising them, that amount of money which all people in the parish subscribe through the rates, and you make the support of the unemployed a collective compulsory charge on the district that profits by the work they perform." The application for work should be restricted to local men with at least three months' residence.
Work should be of public utility, not necessarily of immediate demand, but prospectively required.
The work should be such as would give simple employment to the class which is mainly influenced by depression—the unskilled.
Ground work on roads, sewers, and recreation grounds is the best, as the bulk of the cost of these works goes in wages for manual labor.
Each locality to be responsible for its own unemployed, unless the extent of the works permit otherwise, and equitable arrangements are made with other districts. As in the case of the Common Poor Law Fund, the richer districts with no unemployed ought to contribute pro rata for work that poorer districts do in relief of metropolitan distress. The equalisation of rates would remove many objections now urged on the score of cost by poor districts. The Government could also lend money on easy terms, and in many cases make a contribution, but should leave the carrying out of work entirely to local authority.
The character of the work to be done is of course difficult to decide upon, as in many districts there are staple trades the skill and delicacy of which prevent hard and laborious work being undertaken easily by the men. But generally as was found on the £2,000,000 of work undertaken by local authorities in Lancashire in 1862 and 1863, as told by Mr. Arthur Arnold in his excellent History of the Cotton Famine, and by Mr. Torrens and Sir Robert Rawlinson in their reports, the men soon adapted themselves to the work, which, when finished, was of lasting benefit to the community.
Public works in India, Ireland, and the colonies, even though some of the works in the latter may have been undertaken for political reasons, go on the whole to prove that it is better to spend 41,000,000 on useful labor than £2,000,000 in charity.
The later instances of the good effects of public works loyally undertaken in the right spirit by the authorities and the men are numerous. One of the best was at Chelsea in 1886, when £ 16,000 was spent in paving and laying out roads and streets. The work was of excellent character, equal to, even better, in quality and price than contract work; and for three months gave employment to over 200 men of many trades who soon adapted themselves to the work, and, with the parish, derived great benefit. In 1887 similar work on a smaller scale was undertaken with like success. At Paddington, in 1886, through the action of the committee above referred to, road-work was organised and a public recreation ground laid out. At Wandsworth many men were engaged in digging sand, foundations, and other ground work. Battersea, St. Pancras, and many other parishes, also the Metropolitan Gardens Association, carried out many useful improvements and in the best way relieved distress, discouraged loafing, and benefited the community by the works carried out. Oxford, Norwich, Ipswich, Yarmouth, Eastbourne, and at Brighton similar work was done : 1,000 men were employed for some weeks on necessary roads ; at Yarmouth and King's Lynn general relief works were also undertaken, also at Southampton, Dudley, Walsall, and Stourbridge, in cleansing roads and similar work. Tynemouth employed some hundreds of men upon a public park, sea road, and sea banks. South Shields gave work to 400 men three days per week; and Sunderland to 1,300 men of all trades on foreshore works, of which the Local Government Board official states : "It is impossible to contemplate without a feeling of satisfaction the great improvement to the district that has resulted from the judicious employment of these men at a critical time." And of Wales, where street improvements, parks, gardens, and foreshore works were undertaken, Mr. Murray Bourne, of the Local Government Board, says :
Relief was no doubt considerable. The carrying out of such works at such a time possesses obvious advantages. The work is possibly done somewhat more cheaply than when labor is in demand.
For the less skilled men who are willing to work, London and all other towns can always find work for many who have strength enough to use a broom or shovel. The condition of our streets in summer is bad enough, and it is more than the insufficient permanent staff can do to keep them clean ; whilst in winter the staff could be easily doubled, and if this were done when mud, snow, and dirt are much in evidence, from six to ten thousand men could find employment. If to this was added a crusade against dirt and filth in all the side streets, slums, and alleys with broom, whitewash, and disinfectant, in fact a vigorous enforcement of the new Public Health Act, work would be justified and secured for a still larger number. The recent disclosures of Dr. Dudfield as to the filthy condition of cisterns provides, until they are removed, a source of employment for many; as also does the removal of dust and other refuse. "The man with the muck rake," the scavenger of to-day, is not the dejected, semipauperised automaton that he used to be, working for less than the current wage, and one step from the workhouse. He has been enthused and organised, and, as Mr. Giffen testifies, has reduced his hours of labor 30 per cent. and raised his wages from 10 to 25 per cent. His calling is no longer what it was, and men who used to look upon road-sweeping as derogatory now cheerfully look for it as an alternative to the other work that through age, and for many other reasons, fails them.
The Battersea Vestry, beyond establishing 25/- as a minimum wage for their
have decided that no man under 40 years of age will be eligible for this class of work. This is a good step, as it throws the burden of the industrial fight, as it should, on the young and the unmarried, and gives to the older more municipal protection from the increasing intensity of competition, and, through the rates, throws upon the employer his share of the public duty towards the veterans of industry.
I have gone fairly into the matter, and believe if Mr. Fowler's recent circular is loyally adopted by the 14,000 local authorities throughout the country, as it has been anticipated by the London County Council, that there are many useful works that could be carried out in each district of general sanitary character, which, combined with repairs of roads, streets, and sewers, on the standard of Chelsea in 1886, would give a total of 24,000 to 30,000 men employment in London alone, or about 200,000 throughout the country.
And why should not this be done? When a busy man has an hour to spare, how does he occupy it ? He tidies up, sets his rooms and papers in order ; when a thrifty housewife has an opportunity of an additional cleaning it is undertaken. Why, then, should not each community utilise its surplus labor that must be kept somehow, and give to its cities and towns, its roads and buildings, that winter and spring cleaning they require ?
Having dealt with the kind of work that the unskilled laborer can do, it is more important to discuss the best means of preventing the periodical displacement to which all workers are subject. I believe that by a reorganisation of the works of all public bodies, such as Town and County Councils, school boards, vestries, guardians, docks, port, harbor and sanitary authorities, and all State depart. ments, it is possible to reduce enormously the number of men seeking employment at the beginning and end of each year. To do this the example of the Battersea Vestry, the London County Council, and many other public bodies must be followed, in abolishing contracts, which means casual labor, as far as possible. For the ordinary maintenance and repairs a regular, transferable staff should be kept employed direct, with no overtime except in cases of social urgency; and we should adjust all the special and extraordinary work to be done, such as ground work, repairs and alterations to parks, open spaces, drainage, and other works, to the exigencies of the general local labor market. By this, employment would be thrown over a larger number and at the times when the labor market needed it diost. For three years this has been done by nearly all the committees of the London County Council, which has also decided to have its own Works Department: the first scientific step yet taken for the unemployed question. To secure simultaneous, compulsory and uniform action, Imperial notification should be given. This should be done by a Local Government Board circular; and when the Labor Bureaux indicated a given percentage of unemployed, then public works should be started, and migration would thus be stopped. The great advantage of this method is that by local knowledge and experience the habits and character of the men are known—the laboring sheep are separated from the loafing goats.
Some exception may be taken to this method on the ground that painting and other season trades cannot be regularly employed. But this objection does not hold good to the extent usually imagined. The class of men who are mostly out of work in London in winter are painters and painters' laborers. In the summer the painters and kindred workmen are making ten, twelve, fourteen and often sixteen hours per day for six or seven months in the year. This is unnecessary, as there is not the least reason why nearly all the inside work in connection with cleaning and painting the buildings belonging to public bodies, such as schools, asylums, hospitals, police stations, and public offices, also railway stations and other large buildings, should not be done when climatic conditions are unsuitable for outside work, leaving external work for good weather. I have not yet known a builder or contractor to refuse a contract for climatic reasons; and, with the exception of times of very severe frosts, he generally manages to carry out his work. Even the frost difficulty is got over in colder countries, such as Norway and Sweden ; and it could be overcome here if prejudice and custom did not stand in the way. The fact is, custom, caprice and fashion have imposed upon all communities many cruel and absurd practices which entail overwork for short periods and lack of work at others. If the community is driven, as it is now, to find work for all and overwork for none, it must either voluntarily or compulsorily abandon the stupid practice of ordering its clothes twenty-four hours before they are required, and insisting that all its houses in the West End should be cleaned and painted in six weeks in the spring or six weeks in the autumn, by men working night and day. "Let the community by law, or the men and masters by combination, say that the average working day throughout the year shall be the maximum working day. Society would soon adapt itself to the conditions. The work would still have to be done, and as there is no fear of the owners doing it themselves, one of the first steps towards the regulation of industry would be achieved.
Beyond this there is much that the Imperial Government can do. In all the departments there is much "extra duty" that ought not to be done by the regular staff at overtime rates, but which should be done by extra men. Overtime in the General Post Office alone is paid