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increase has not been in the number of the unregulated women workers in the sweaters' dens. Formerly we had a man working in his own room, and employing his wife and daughter to help him at all hours. Some people might have argued that anything which struck at the root of this system would deprive women of employment. As a matter of fact, the result has been, by division of labor in the rapidly growing great boot factories, to substitute for these few hundreds of unpaid assistants, many thousands of independent and regularly employed women operatives. For we must remember that when these changes take place, they take place on a large scale. Whilst the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women is proud to secure new openings for a few scores or a few hundreds, the industrial evolution which I have described has been silently absorbing, in one trade or another, hundreds of thousands of women of all classes. It is therefore infinitely more important for the friends of women's employment to enquire how an extension of the Factory Acts would influence our progress towards the factory system, than how it would affect, say, the few hundred women who might be engaged in night-work book-folding.

If there is one result more clearly proved by experience than another, it is that the legal fixing of definite hours of labor, the requirement of a high standard of sanitation, and the prohibition of overtime, all favor production on a large scale. It has been the employers' constant complaint against the Factory Acts that they inevitably tend to squeeze out the “little master.” The evidence taken by the House of Lords' Committee on Sweating conclusively proved that any effective application of factory regulations to the workplaces of East London and the Black Country would quickly lead to the substitution of large factories. Factory legislation is, therefore, strenuously resisted by the “little masters," who carry on their workshops in the back slums; by the Jewish and other subcontractors who make a living by organizing helpless labor ; and by all who cherish a sentimental yearning for domestic industries. But this sentiment must not blind us to the arithmetical fact that it is the factory system which provides the great market for women's labor. Those well-meaning ladies who, by resisting the extension of Factory legislation, are keeping alive the domestic workshop and the sweaters' den, are thus positively curtailing the sphere of women's employment. The "freedom" of the poor widow to work, in her own bedroom, "all the hours that God made”; and the wife's privilege to supplement a drunken husband's wages by doing work at her own fireside, are, in sober truth, being purchased at the price of the exclusion from regular factory employment of thousands of "independent women."

We can now sum up the whole argument. The case for Factory legislation does not rest on harrowing tales of exceptional tyranny, though plenty of these can be furnished in support of it. It is based on the broad facts of the capitalist system, and the inevitable results of the Industrial Revolution.* A whole century of experience proves

* See Fabian Tract No. 23, The Case for an Eight Hours Bill.

that where the conditions of the wage-earner's life are left to be settled by "free competition" and individual bargaining between master and man, the worker's “freedom” is delusive. Where he bargains, he bargains at a serious disadvantage, and on many of the points most vital to himself and to the community he cannot bargain at all. The common middle-class objection to Factory legislationthat it interferes with the individual liberty of the operative-springs from ignorance of the economic position of the wage-earner. Far from diminishing personal freedom, Factory legislation positively increases the individual liberty and economic independence of the workers subject to it. No one who knows what life is among the people in Lancashire textile villages on the one hand, and among the East End or Black Country unregulated trades on the other, can ever doubt this.

All these general considerations apply more forcibly to women wage-earners than to men. Women are far more helpless in the labor market, and much less able to enforce their own common rule by Trade Unionism. The only chance of getting Trade Unions among women workers lies through the Factory Acts. We have before us nearly forty years' actual experience of the precise limitation of hours and the absolute prohibition of overtime for women workers in the cotton manufacture; and they teach us nothing that justifies us in refusing to extend the like protection to the women slaving for irregular and excessive hours in laundries, dressmakers' workrooms, and all the thousand and one trades in which women's hours of work are practically unlimited.

Finally, we have seen that the fear of women's exclusion from industrial employment is wholly unfounded. The uniform effect of Factory legislation in the past has been, by encouraging machinery, division of labor, and production on a large scale, to increase the employment of women, and largely to raise their status in the labor market. At this very moment the neglect to apply the Factory Acts effectively to the domestic workshop is positively restricting the demand for women workers in the clothing trades. And what is even more important, we see that it is only by strict regulation of the conditions of women's employment that we can hope for any general rise in the level of their industrial efficiency. The real enemy of the woman worker is not the skilled male operative, but the unskilled and half-hearted female "amateur" who simultaneously blacklegs both the workshop and the home. The legal regulation of women's labor is required to protect the independent professional woman worker against these enemies of her own sex. Without this regulation it is futile to talk to her of the equality of men and women. With this regulation, experience teaches us that women can work their way in certain occupations to a man's skill, a man's wages, and a man's sense of personal dignity and independence.

G. STANDRING, Printer, 7 and 9 Finsbury Street, London, E.C.

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FABIAN SOCIETY.-The Fabian Society consists of Socialists. A stato

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THE FABIAN Society, 3 Clement's Inn, STRAND, W.C. PUBLISHED JUNE 1896. SECOND REPRINT, AUGUST 1906.

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