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contracting with the agent, who represents the owner of the mine, to execute a certain portion of a vein, and fit the ore for market, at the price of so much in the pound of the sum for which the ore is sold. These contracts are put up at certain regular periods, generally every two months, and taken by a voluntary partnership of men accustomed to the mine. This system has its disadvantages, in consequence of the uncertainty and irregularity of the earnings, and consequent necessity of living for long periods on credit; but it has advantages which more than counterbalance these drawbacks. It produces a degree of intelligence, independence, and moral elevation, which raise the condition and character of the Cornish miner far above that of the generality of the labouring class. We are told by Dr. Barham, that “they are not only, as a class, intelligent for labourers, but men of considerable knowledge.' Also, that “they have a character of independence, something American, the system by which the contracts are let giving the takers entire freedom to make arrangements among themselves; so that each man feels, as a partner in his little firm, that he meets his emloyers on nearly equal terms.' . . . Wo. this basis of intelligence and independence in their character, we are not surprised when we hear that “a very great number of miners are now located on possessions of their own, leased for three lives or ninety-nine years, on which they have built houses;’ or that ‘281,5411. are deposited in savings banks in Cornwall, of which twothirds are estimated to belong to miners.’”* Mr. Babbage, who also gives an account of this system, observes that the ayment to the crews of whaling ships is governed by a similar principle; and that “the profits arising from fishing with nets, on the south coast of Eng. land are thus divided : one-half the produce belongs to the owner of the boat * This passage is from the Prize Essay on the Causes and Remedies of National Dis.
and net; the other half is divided in equal portions between the persons using it, who are also bound to assist in repairing the net when required.” Mr. Babbage has the great merit of having pointed out the practicability, and the advantage, of extending the principle to manufacturing industry generally.* Some attention has been excited by an experiment of this nature, commenced about sixteen years ago by a Paris, tradesman, a house-painter, M. Leclaire, and described by him in a pamphlet published in the year 1842. M. Leclaire, according to his statement, .. on an average two hundred workmen, whom he pays in the usual manner, by fixed wages or salaries. He assigns to himself, besides interest for his capital, a fixed allowance for his labour and oil. as manager. At the end of the year, the surplus profits are divided among the body, himself included, in the proortion of their salaries.: The reasons y which M. Leclaire was led to adopt this system are highly instructive. Finding the conduct of his workmen unsatisfactory, he first tried the effect of giving higher wages, and by this he managed to obtain a body of excellent workmen, who would not quit his service for any other. “Having thus succeeded"(I quote from an abstract of the pamphletin Chambers’ Journal,S) “in producing some sort of stability in the arrangements of his establishment, M. Leclaire expected, he says, to enjoy greater peace of mind. In this, how. ever, he was disappointed. So long as he was able to superintend everything * Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, 3rd edition, ch. 26. t His establishment is 11, Rue Saint Georges. # It appears, however, that the workmen whom M. Leclaire had admitted to this participation of profits, were only a portion (rather less than half) of the whole number whom he employed. This is explained by another part of his system. M. Leclaire pays the full market rate of wages to all his workmen. The share of profit assigned to them is, therefore, a clear addition to the ordinary gains of their class, which he very laudably uses as an instrument of improve. ment, by making it the reward of desert, or the recompense for peculiar trust. § For September 27, 1845.
himself, from the general concerns of his business down to its minutest details, he did enjoy a certain satisfaction; but from the moment that, owing to the increase of his business, he found that he could be nothing more than the centre from which orders were issued, and to which reports were brought in, his former anxiety and discomfort returned upon him.” He speaks lightly of the other sources of anxiety to which a tradesman is subject, but describes as an incessant cause of vexation the losses arising from the misconduct of workmen. An employer “will find workmen whose indifference to his interests is such that they do not perform two-thirds of the amount of work which they are capable of; hence the continual retting of masters, who, seeing their interests neglected, believe themselves entitled to suppose that workmen are constantly conspiring to ruin those from whom they derive their livelihood. If the journeyman were sure of constant employment, his position would in some respects be more enviable than that of the master, because he is assured of a certain amount of day's wages, which he will get whether he works much or little. He runs no risk, and has no other motive to stimulate him to do his best than his own sense of duty. The master, on the other hand, depends greatly on chance for his returns: his position is one of continual irritation and anxiety. This would no longer be the case to the same extent, if the interests of the master and those of the workmen were bound up with each other, connected by some bond of mutual security, such as that which would be obtained by the plan of a early division of profits.” Even in the first year during which M. Leclaire's experiment was in complete operation, the success was remarkable. Not one of his journeymen who worked as many as three hundred days, earned in that year less than 1500 francs, and some considerably more. His highest rate of daily wages being four francs, or 1200 francs for 300 days, the remaining 300 francs, or 12l., must have been the smallest
amount which any journeyman who worked that number of days, obtained as his proportion of the surplus profit. M. Leclaire describes in strong terms the improvement which was already manifest in the habits and demeanour of his workmen, not merely when at work, and in their relations with their employer, but at other times and in other relations, showing increased respect both for others and for themselves. M. Chevalier, in a work published in 1848,” stated on M. Leclare's autho. rity, that the increased zeal of the workpeople continued to be a full compensation to him, even in a pecuniary sense, for the share of profit which he renounced in their favour. And M. Williaumé, in 1857, f observes:– “Though he has always kept himself free from the frauds which are but too frequent in his profession, he has always been able to hold his ground against competition, and has acquired a handsome competency, in spite of the relinquishment of so great a portion of his profits. Assuredly he has only been thus successful because the unusual activity of his workpeople, and the watch which they kept over one an other, have compensated him for the sacrifice he made in contenting himself with only a share of the gain.”: * Letters on the Organization of Labour, letter 14. # New Treatise on Political Economy. £ At the present time (1865), M. Leclaire's establishment is conducted on a somewhat altered system, though the principle of dividing the profits is maintained. There are now three partners in the concern : M. Leclaire himself, one other person (M. Defournaux), and a Provident Society (Société de Secours Mutuels), of which all persons in his employment are the members. (This Society owns an excellent library, and has scientific, technical, and other lectures regularly delivered to it). Each of the thres partners has 100,000 francs invested in the concern; M. Leclaire having advanced to the Provident Society as much as was necessary to supply the original insufficiency of their own funds. The partnership, on the part of the Society, is limited; on that of M. Leclaire and M. Defournaux, unlimited. These two receive 6000 francs (240l.) per annum each as wages of superintendence. Of the annual profits they receive half, though owning two-thirds of the capital. The remaining half belongs to the employés and workpeople; two-fifths of it being paid to the Provident Society, and the other
The beneficent example set by M. Leclaire has been followed, with brilliant success, by other employers of labour on a large scale at Paris; and I annex, from the work last referred to (one of the ablest of the many able treatises on political economy produced by the present generation of the political economists of France), some signal examples of the economical and moral benefit arising from this admirable arrangement.*
Until the passing of the Limited Liability Act, it was held that an arrangement similar to M. Leclaire's would have been impossible in England, as the workmen could not, in the previous state of the law, have been associated in the profits without being liable for losses. One of the many benefits of that great legislative improvement, has been to render partnerships of this description possible : and we may now hope to see them carried into practice. Messrs. Briggs, of the Whitwood and Methley Collieries, near Normanton in Yorkshire, have taken the first step. They have issued a proposal to work those collieries y a. . two-thirds of the capital of which they will themselves continue to hold, but will in the allotment of the remaining third give the preference to the “officials and operatives employed in the concern,” and, what is of still greater importance, will propose to the shareholders that whenever the annual profit exceeds 10 per cent, one-half the excess shall be divided among the workpeople and employés, whether shareholders or not, in proportion to their earnings during the year. It is highly honourable to these important employers of labour to have initiated a system so full of benefit both to the operatives employed and to the general interest of social improvement; and they express no more than a just confidence in the principle when they say, that “the adoption of the mode of apropriation thus recommended would, it is believed, add so great an element of success to the undertaking as to increase rather than diminish the dividend to the shareholders.”
three-fifths divided among the body. M.
“M. Gisquet, formerly Prefect of Police, has long been the proprietor of an oil manufactory at St. Denis, the most important one in France next to that of M. Darblay, of Corbeil. When in 1848 he took the personal management of it, he found workmen who got drunk several days in the week, and during their work sung, smoked, and sometimes quarrelled with one another. Many unsuccessful attempts had been made to alter this state of things; he accomplished it by forbidding his workmen to get drunk on working days, on pain of dismissal, and at the same time promising to share with them, by way of annual gratuity, five per cent of his net profits, in shares proportioned to wages, which are fixed at the current rates. From that time the reformation has been complete, and he is surrounded by a hundred workmen full of zeal and devotion. Their comforts have been increased by what they have ceased to spend in drink, and what they gain by their punctuality at work. The annual gratuity has amounted, on the average, to the equivalent of six weeks' wages.
“M. Beslay, a member of the Chamber of Deputies from 1830 to 1839, and afterwards of the Constituent Assembly, has founded an important manufactory of steam engines at Paris, in the Faubourg of the Temple. He has taken his workpeople into partnership
ever since the beginning of 1847, and the cons,
tract of association is one of the most com-
§ 6. The form of association, however, which if mankind continue to improve, must be expected in the end to predominate, is not that which can exist between a capitalist as chief, and workpeople without a voice in the management, but the association of the labourers themselves on terms of equality, collectively owning the capital with o they carry on their operations, and working under managers elected and removable by themselves. So long as this idea remained in a state of theory, in the writings of Owen or of Louis Blanc, it may have appeared, to the common modes of judg: ment, incapable of being realized, and not likely to be tried unless by seizing on the existing capital, and confiscat
be most industrious and useful ones when interested even for the smallest share.”— McMicking's Recollections of Manilla and the Philippines during 1848, 1849, and 1850, p. 24.
ing it for the benefit of the labourers; which is even now imagined by man ersons, and pretended by more, bot in England and on the Continent, to be the meaning and purpose of Socialism. But there is a capacity of exertion and self-denial in the masses of man. kind, which is never known but on the rare occasions on which it is appealed to in the name of some great idea or elevated sentiment. Such an appeal was made by the French Revolution of 1848. For the first time it then seemed to the intelligent and generous of the working classes of a great nation, that they had obtained a government who sincerely desired the freedom and dignity of the many, and who did not look upon it as their natural and legitimate state to be instruments of production, worked for the benefit of the possessors of capital. Under this encouragement, the ideas sown by Socialist writers, of an emancipation of labour to be effected by means of association, throve and fructified; and many working people came to the resolution, not only that they would work for one another, instead of working for a master tradesman or manufacturer, but that they would also free themselves, at whatever cost of labour or privation, from the nocessity of paying, out of the produce of their industry, a heavy tribute for the use of capital; that they would extinguish this tax, not by robbing the capitalists of what they or their predecessors had acquired by labour and preserved by economy, but by honestl acquiring capital for themselves. If only a few operatives had attempted this arduous task, or if, while many attempted it, a few only had succeeded, their success might have been deemed to furnish no argument for their system as a permanent mode of industrial organization. But, excluding all the instances of failure, there exist or ex. isted a short time ago, upwards of a hundred successful, and many emi. nently prosperous, associations of ope ratives in Paris alone, besides a con siderable number in the departmonts. An instructive sketch of their history and principles has oilo, under the title of “Association of Workpeople Manufacturing and Agricultural,” by H. Feugueray; and as it is frequently affirmed in English newsapers that the associations at Paris }. failed, by writers who appear to mistake the predictions of their enemies at their first formation for the testimonies of subsequent experience, I think it important to show by quotations from M. Feugueray's volume, strengthened by still later testimonies, that these representations are not only wide of the truth, but the extreme contrary of it. The capital of most of the associations was originally confined to the few tools belonging to the founders, and the small sums which could be collected from their savings, or which were lent to them by other workpeople as poor as themselves. In some cases, however, loans of capital were made to them by the republican government: but the associations which obtained these advances, or at least which obtained them before they had already achieved success, are, it appears, in general by no means the most prosperous. The most striking instances of prosperity are in the case of those who have had nothing to rely on but their own slender means and the small loans of fellow-workmen, and who lived on bread and water while they devoted the whole surplus of their gains to the formation of a capital. “Often,” says M. Feugueray,” “there was no money at all in hand, and no wages could be paid. The goods did not go off, the payments did not come in, bills could not get discounted, the warehouse of materials was empty; they had to submit to privation, to reduce all expenses to the minimum, to live sometimes on bread and water. . . . It is at the price of these hardships and anxieties that men who began with hardly any resource but their good will and their hands, succeeded in creating customers, in acquiring credit, forming at last a joint capital, and thus founding associations whose futurity now seems to be assured.” I will quote at length the remark. * P. 112.
able history of one of these associa. tions.# “The necessity of a large capital for the establishment of a pianoforte manufactory was so fully recognised in the trade, that in 1848 the delegates of several hundred workmen who had combined to form a great association, solicited from the government a subven. tion of 300,000 francs ..". being a tenth part of the whole sum voted by the National Assembly. I remember that as one of the Commission char with the distribution of the fund, I tried in vain for two hours to convince the two delegates with whom the Commission conferred, that their request was exorbitant. They answered imperturbably, that their trade was a peculiar one; that the association could only have a chance of success on a very large scale and with a considerable capital; that 300,000 francs were the smallest sum which could suffice them, and that they could not reduce the demand by a single sou. The Commission refused. “Now, after this refusal, the project of a great association being abandoned, what happened was this. Fourteen workmen, and it is singular that among them was one of the two delegates, resolved to set up by themselves a pianoforte-making association. The project was hazardous on the part of men who had neither money nor credit: but faith does not reason—it acts. “Our fourteen men therefore went to work, and I borrow from an excellent article by M. Cochut in the National, the accuracy of which I can attest, the following account of their first pro. ceedings. “Some of them, who had worked on their own account, brought with them in tools and materials the value of about 2000 francs [80l.]... There was needed besides a circulating capital. Each member, not without difficulty, managed to subscribe 10 francs . A certain number of workmen not interested in the society gave their adhesion by bringing small contributions. Qn March 10, 1849, a sum of 229, francs (91. 38.7%d.] having been real. * Pp. 113–16.