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determination of the earnings and other details of the application of the law very difficult. The operators complained of thị excessive charges imposed by the law. The national insurance institution was forced to put these mines in one of the highest (twenty-fourth) risk classes with special increases of premiums for unfavorable conditions. The private insurance companies had complained of the frequency of frauds on the part of the small employers, and after two years of unsatisfactory experience left the entire field to the national insurance institution, which by its constitution is prohibited from refusing any risks. Protracted lawsuits and delays in the payment of indemnities were frequent and caused hardship to the injured workmen, and the national insurance institution, in which most of these miners were insured, suffered a heavy deficit during the years 1899 to 1903, which was especially large in the Palermo branch, due to the sulphur mines. All these circumstances emphasized the necessity of a local mutual institution on a cooperative basis, which would make better control possible. . According to one authority, the lack of the feeling of economic and social solidarity made the hope for a voluntary association futile.
On January 9, 1904, the minister of agriculture addressed a circular (*) to the prefects of the Provinces and the presidents of the chambers of commerce and of arts in Sicily informing them of the necessity of forming an employers' compulsory insurance association and requesting opinions and suggestions, as required by the law. After the required preliminary steps the constitution of the association was approved and the association thereby instituted by royal decree of July 11, 1904, under the name of the Sicilian Obligatory Association for Mutual Insurance against Industrial Accidents in the Sulphur Mining Industry. (Sindacato Obbligatorio Siciliano di Mutua Assicurazione per gl' Infortuni sul Lavoro nella Industria delle Miniere di Zolfo.)
On the same date the Crown approved a special act passed by both chambers of the Parliament which introduced some modifications in the operation of the law as applied to the Sicilian sulphur-mining industry and to the Employers' Compulsory Mutual Insurance Association. These modifications applied to the method of distributing among the individual employers the cost of compensation and to the measures to be taken to collect the necessary funds.
In transmitting the text of the bill to the Chamber of Deputies on May 23, 1904, the minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce pointed out that the method of distributing the expense of the employers' association according to the wage expenses of the indi
a Bollettino di Notizie sul Credito e sulla Previdenza, 1904, p. 5. 67725°— VOL 2-11-19
vidual employers worked injustice, because of frequent deceptions in the statements of some of the employers. A comparison of the data of the mining office of the district of Caltanisetta with the data of the National Accident Insurance Institution showed that the amount of wages certified was about one-half of the amount actually paid. The ministry therefore accepted the suggestions of the Sicilian mining association, indorsed by several of the chambers of commerce of Sicily, that the assessments be made not according to the wage expense, but according to the quantity of sulphur produced, and that they be collected in connection with the railway transportation of the product, so as to make impossible any evasion of the assessments.
OPERATIONS UNDER THE LAW OF JULY 14, 1907.
The conditions of the application of the compensation legislation by the Employers' Compulsory Mutual Accident Insurance Association were considerably modified by the new law of July 14, 1907, referring especially to this obligatory association. The chief object of this law was further to eliminate the opportunities of defrauding the association. The special law of July 11, 1904, was aimed at the frauds in connection with the payment of contributions by the members, but it left untouched the opportunities for fraud in connection with the payment of compensation.
The minister of agriculture, industry, and commerce in his memorial accompanying the bill introduced into the Chamber of Deputies on June 9, 1907, declared that the law of July 11, 1904, aggravated frauds in connection with the statements of wages and earnings upon which the computation of compensation is based, because it took away the restraint upon exaggeration which existed when the employers' contributions were proportionate to their wage expense. It was pointed out in the same memorial that the conditions of contracting and subcontracting made exaggerations of wages especially difficult to detect. The general standard of the law making the annual earnings equal to 300 times the daily wage was also declared to be excessive for the Sicilian mining industry, since the actual number of working days varied in the different provinces from 160 to 248. The frequent fraudulent practices led to excessive litigation, which proved an additional expense to the insurance association.
To remedy these conditions the association made repeated requests upon the Government that a system of fixed wage schedules for certain occupations be substituted for the method of individual computation of the earnings, and the law of July 14, 1907, is primarily an adaptation of this suggestion. Connected with this are measures for better organization of medical help and for a system of medical inspection which will enable the mutual insurance association better to control the payment of compensation. (*)
The law was to go into effect after the publication of the necessary regulations, which were prepared by the ministry, were approved by the royal decree of June 14, 1908, and were promulgated on August 6, 1908. O
It will be unnecessary to give a complete analysis of the workings of this employers' compulsory mutual insurance association, because in its main features it must follow the provisions of the general accident insurance law, which was fully analyzed in an earlier section. The purpose and scope of this institution and the extent of the industrial field covered by it are sufficiently well indicated in its title. The provisions concerning persons injured, the character of disability compensated, and the benefit payments all remain unchanged. Only those features of its activity will be presented which show a material deviation from the methods required by the general law.
MEDICAL HELP.—The association is required by the law of 1907 to organize a service of first medical and pharmaceutical aid to the injured workers, in regular stations, without any cost to the sulphur mine owners.
In addition to the medical help, the physicians connected with these medical aid stations must furnish the preliminary and final medical certificates without any cost to the injured person. To cover the cost of this medical service the association is authorized to levy an additional tonnage tax upon the sulphur mined, according to the provisions of the law of July 11, 1904, but not to exceed 50 centesimi (9.7 cents) per ton.
MEDICAL EXAMINATION.–For the purpose of protecting the compulsory mutual accident insurance association against possible fraud, the law of 1904 confers additional power on the association in cases of medical inspection. As soon as an accident has occurred the association may demand of the local magistrate that the injured person be examined by a medical expert even before any claim for compensation is made. The magistrate must order such investigation to be made as soon as possible, and he appoints the expert. In case the injured person refuses to undergo the medical examination, it may be assumed by the judicial authority, unless otherwise proven, that such lesions alone are due to the accident as evidently have been caused by it.
The cost of the examination is paid by the association which has requested it, and includes pay to the injured employee for wages lost because of the examination and reimbursement of his traveling expenses,
a Die Arbeiter-Versicherung im Auslande. Herausgegeben von Dr. Zacher, Heft VIb, p. 18.
6 Bollettino dell' Ufficio del Lavoro, Vol. X, Aug. 2, 1908, pp. 491 to 499.
SOURCES OF INCOME.—The expenses of the obligatory mutual accident insurance association of the operators of Sicilian sulphur mines is met by a special tax of 1.50 lire (29 cents) per ton of sulphur obtained or of mineral containing more than 65 per cent of pure sulphur. The assessment upon mineral containing 65 per cent and less is reduced by one-third.
As stated in the report of the minister of May 23, 1904, this rate of assessments was computed in the following way:(9) The total amount of compensation annually paid to Sicilian sulphur miners by the National Accident Insurance Institution in 1901 and 1902, when it assumed all insurance in that region, was about 513,000 lire ($99,009). At that time compensation was paid according to the law of 1898. It was computed that on an average the cost under the law of 1904 would exceed that under the older law by about 20 per cent, and an additional 20 per cent was allowed for the expenses of administration and the formation of the reserve, which brought the probable cost up to almost 718,000 lire ($138,574). Since the average annual production of sulphur amounted to about 500,000 tons, it was estimated that the tax of 1.50 lire (29 cents) per ton would produce the requisite revenue with a necessary margin of safety.
In case the tax yields more revenue than is needed, and the general meeting of the association expresses the desire to have the tax reduced, the administrative council may petition the ministry to that effect, and after consultation with the Council of State, such reduction may be ordered by the Government, but it may require a guarantee of the solvency of the institution.
The collection of the contribution was combined with the transportation of sulphur and sulphur minerals, because this was considered the best way to reach all the sulphur mined; and since most of the sulphur is transported by rail, the railroad station nearest to the mines was considered the most convenient place for accounting for the tonnage and for receiving the contribution. The railroad companies operating in Sicily agreed to assume the duty of collecting the contribution in connection with the freight charges. The contribution may be paid at the time of shipment or it may be paid at the time of delivery if the shipper assigns the payment to the consignee by a proper indorsement upon the bill of lading and the railroad transfers the amounts received to the insurance association. The fee charged by the railroad for making collections is very small, it being 5 centesimi (1 cent) per each 10 lire ($1.93), with a minimum charge of 10 centesimi (2 cents).
The regulation of method of payment of contributions for the sulphur transported over ordinary roads was left to the constitution of the association.
a Bollettino di Notizie sul Credito e sulla Previdenza, 1904, pp. 827 to 835.
The same rule applies to the amount and method of payment of contributions to cover the risk of work which is temporarily unproductive.
DETERMINATION OF BENEFITS.—The general method of determining the benefits due the workmen injured in the Sicilian sulphur mines remains the same as provided for by the laws of 1898 and 1903 (codified in 1904) for all other industries. The difference introduced by the law of July 14, 1907, and by subsequent regulations issued on June 14, 1908, concerns the method of determination of the wages, upon which the amount of compensation depends.
DETERMINATION OF WAGES.-Instead of the complicated system of computing wages which is contained in the general accident insurance law of January 31, 1904, and in the regulations of March 13, 1904, the following much simpler plan is substituted: First, in case of employees hired for a specified annual remuneration, that sum is taken in case of death or permanent disability; in compensation of temporary disability, the daily wage is arrived at by dividing the annual remuneration by 365. For all other employees, special wage tables must be elaborated. These tables must be prepared by the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce, which should take into consideration the proposals of the mining office of the district of Caltanisetta (the center of the sulphur mining industry of Sicily) and give a hearing to the local authorities and to local employers and employees' associations.
In these tables the workmen employed in the sulphur mining industry must be divided into groups, and to each group must be attached a specified sum of annual earnings, to be used in case of death or of permanent disability and a daily wage to be used in case of temporary disability. In computing these tables, the sum of annual earnings must correspond to the average annual earnings of the employees in that group, and the daily wage must be obtained through division of the annual earnings by the average number of working days in the various provinces.
The tables prepared in accordance with these requirements of the law were approved by royal decree of July 2, 1908.
Estimates of annual and daily wages were made not only for occupations and for each of the four sulphur mining provinces but also by age groups; and the tables are furthermore complicated by the fact that different age classifications have been adopted for the different occupational groups. Thus, the miners are divided into four groups, as follows: Under 25 years, 25 and under 45 years, 45 and under 60 years, and 60 years and over. The common laborers are divided into five age groups: Under 15 years, 15 and under 25 years, 25 and under 50 years, 50 and under 60 years, and 60 years and over; and the employees occupied in transporting the sulphur are arranged