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The Gase for an Eight
THE FABIAN SOCIETY.
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Published for the Fabian Society by JOHN HEYWOOD, Deansgate and
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3RD MAY, 1891.
Price One Shilling.
300 pages, crown 8vo,
THE EIGHT HOURS DAY,
By SIDNEY WEBB, LL.B.,
and Working Men's College ; and HAROLD COX, B.A., Late Scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge.
This volume contains an exhaustive account of the Eight Hours Movement. A Description is given of the movement in favor of shorter hours in England, the United States, Australia, and the Continent. Full particulars are stated as to present hours of labor, and factory legislation. The results of previous reductions in the hours of labor are described. Full investigation is made into the economic results of a shortening of hours. The question of Overtime is explicitly dealt with. The hygienic, social, and juristic aspects of the question receive full consideration. Every argument for and against an Eight Hours Bill is exhaustively and impartially dealt with. The English, Foreign, and Colonial precedents are fully described. Definite proposals for legislation are critically examined. Exact references to the authorities and a complete Index make this work an indispensable guide to the whole question of the Reduction of the Hours of Labor.
A Short HistoryofAnglo-Saxon Freedom
THE POLITY OF THE ENGLISH-SPEAKING RACE. By JAMES K. HOSMER, Professor in Washington University; Author of
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THE DEMAND FOR AN EIGHT HOURS DAY. The one demand of the laboring masses which to-day forces itself on the attention alike of the willing and the unwilling, is the rapidly growing international movement in favor of an Eight Hours Day.
In England and Scotland, in Australia and America, and throughout the Continent of Europe, the wage-earners are quickly coming to be unanimous on this point.
This has come about, not so much from the conviction that the present hours are injurious to health-though that in many cases is the fact—not so much from the theory that shorter hours mean higher wages -though that theory is in the main sound, but from the strongly-felt desire for additional opportunities for self-cultivation and the enjoyment of life.
Men and women who toil for wages are everywhere growing tired of being only working animals. They wish to enjoy, as well as to
to pluck the fruits, as well as dig the soil; to wear as well as to weave. They are eager for opportunity to see more of the great world in which they live—a world of which many of them now for the first time hear from books. On all sides there is an expansion of life. New possibilities of enjoyment, physical, emotional, intellectual, are daily opening for the masses. New aspirations are daily surging up. We need not wonder then that this generation is no longer content to live as its fathers and mothers lived. Hence in all classes the demand for leisure grows keener and keener. Both men and women are growing daily more conscious of the cruelty of a system which condemns them to a barely broken round of monotonous toil. Everywhere they begin fiercely to rebel against this system, and nerve themselves to prepare for its overthrow.
“Work we will,” they say in effect, if not in words, “ for we know that work is the condition of life. But we demand in return
for our work. Not mere money wage—for that by itself is useless—but the power and opportunity to enjoy the advantages which the labor of all of us has created.”
THE NEED FOR A SHORTER DAY. This power and opportunity to enjoy the civilisation which labor creates is now denied to the great mass of the workers. In
* Fabian Tract No. 9, An Eight Hours Bill in the form of an amendment of the Factory Acts, gives practicable proposals for Eight Hours legislation. A brief summary of the arguments is contained in Fabian Tract No. 16, A Plea for an Eight Hours Bill. The whole subject is dealt with at length in the book entitled “The Eight Hours Day,” by Sidney Webb and Harold Cox (London, Walter Scott, price one shilling), which gives full particulars of the history of the Eight Hours Movement in all parts of the world, description of Foreign and Colonial Factory Laws, authentic accounts of the results where the Eight Hours Day has been tried, and an extensive list of publications on the subject.
many industries, practically the whole of their waking life is taken up in the mere struggle to live. Many thousands of them never see their little children out of bed. Nearly all of them are worked too long for physical health.
Here are some cases of the hours of labor now being worked. in Great Britain.
The men who work on the tramcars in our cities are on duty for at least fourteen hours a day, without including meal times. Many of them work longer even than this, and seven days a week. One conductor in Bradford was found to be working regularly 115 hours a week, with no intervals for meals, at wages of three shillings a day. One town* in England works its own tramways. free from the control of profit-making shareholders. On this tramway the workers enjoy an Eight Hours Day.
The great Scotch strike of 1890-1 has made us all familiar with the monstrously excessive hours of nearly all grades of railway men. Particulars of their overwork are to be found in the Railway Companies' own returns to the Board of Trade.t
Nearly all the great Railway Companies have thousands of men at work for fifteen, and even eighteen hours at a stretch. Nor is. this made necessary by fogs or pressure of business. The London and South-Western Railway suffers from as many fogs as the rest, and is no less liable to sudden increase of traffic. But the London and South-Western Railway hardly ever keeps any engine-driver or signalman at work for more than twelve hours at a stretch. What one company can do, the others could imitate if they liked; but they prefer to work with an inadequate staff.
This is how the North British Railway Company worked one of its firemen during the latter part of 1890 :1st fortnight
168 hours 2nd
" Average, 185hours per fortnight. No wonder that during 1889, one in seventeen of the brakes-men and goods guards, and one in eighteen of the shunters, employed in the United Kingdom, were injured by accidents. I
* Huddersfield. The Town Council nevertheless loses nothing by its: generosity ; its tramways yield full interest on cost and show no deficit.
† See Parliamentary Paper, c. 6158 of 1891.
SHOP ASSISTANTS. The President of the Shop Hours Labor League tells us * that * the majority of shop assistants in this country work from 75 to 90 hours in every week. Of that majority one-fourth work the full 90 hours per week, two-fourths 80 hours, and the remaining fourth 75 hours."
Here is one out of many cases :
". William H., aged 22, grocer's assistant: Have been in three places since I was 15 years of age. My hours have been and are from 7.30 a.m. to 9.30 p.m., Fridays 10 p.m., Saturdays 12 p.m. At the end of the day my feet burn and my limbs ache. On Saturday it is something cruel. We have no holidays. I have known one death through the long hours, and many a one I have known broken down and be obliged to leave. It's very hard to have one's health ruined at the very beginning of life, and then having to go through the world with half a constitution.'
WOMEN WORKERS. Women are, in many industries, protected against excessive hours of labor by the Factory Acts. But where these do not apply, or are not enforced, the women often have to work scandalously long hours. The washerwomen in little laundries rarely work less than 72 hours a week. Barmaids are often on duty for over 100 hours a week. Women in small shops suffer much from their excessively prolonged day. Doctors are unanimous in affirming the evil physical effects of this undue labor.
COAL MINERS. We are often told of the short hours which the coal miners have won for themselves. The Government returnt shows, however, that very few even of the coal hewers are underground for less than nine hours a day. The other workers in the mine are in the pit still longer. Only in Northumberland and Durham, where the masters have chosen to institute a double shift, do the coal hewers spend less than eight hours underground. The “rulleymen ” and boys in those mines work over ten hours underground.
OTHER WORKERS. Many other workers toil for excessive hours. The prosperous artisans who have nominally won the Nine Hours Day, form but a small minority of the wage earners. At Liverpool the bakers in 1890 worked on an average eighty hours a week. The “sweated” tailors in East London often work sixteen, or even eighteen hours out of the twenty-four. Nor are the worst scandals confined to the great towns.
The following instance of a contract actually put into writing, at Slough (Buckinghamshire), may be taken as typical of much unrecorded tyranny in the agricultural districts :
“I, WILLIAM BURTCHELL, agree to hire myself to Alfred William and Joseph Reffell for one year as carter at 7s. per week for the first half, 8s. for the second half-year, and £3 at Michaelmas, 11th October, 1891, to make myself generally useful at all kinds of work, and to do anything I am asked to do at any time. In
“Death and Disease behind the Counter," by Thomas Sutherst (2 Harcourt Buildings, Temple, London, E.C.).
† Parliamentary Paper, H.C., 284 of 1890.