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ized, the association was declared constituted. “This sum was not even sufficient for setting up, and for the small expenses required from day to day for the service of a workshop. There being nothing left for wages, nearly two months elapsed without their touching a farthing. How did they subsist during this interval? As workmen live when out of employment, by sharing the portion of a comrade who is in work; by selling or pawning bit by bit the few articles they possess. “They had executed some orders. They received the payment on the 4th of May. That day was for them like a victory at the opening of a campaign, and they determined to celebrate it. After paying all debts that had fallen due, i. dividend of each member amounted to 6 francs 61 centimes. They agreed to allow to each 5 francs o: account of his wages, and to evote the surplus to a fraternal repast. The fourteen shareholders, most of whom had not tasted wine for a year past, met, along with their wives and children. They expended .32, sous [1s. 4d.) per family. This day is still spoken of il, their workshops with an emotion which it is difficult not to share. “For a month longer it was necessary to content themselves with the receipt of five francs per week. In the course of June a baker, either from love of music or on speculation, offered to buy a piano, paying for it in bread. The bargain was made at the price of 480 francs. It was a piece of good luck to the association. They had now at least what was indispensable. They determined not to reckon the bread in the account of wages. Each ate according to his appetite, or rather to that of his family; for the married shareholders were allowed to take away bread freely for their wives and children. “Meanwhile the association, being romposed of excellent workmen, gradually surmounted the obstacles and privations which had embarrassed its starting. . Its account-books offer the best proof of the progress which its
ianos had made in the estimation of uyers. From August 1849 the weekly contingent rises to 10, 15, and 20 francs per week; and this last sum does not represent all their profits, each partner having left in the common stock much more than he received from it. Indeed it is not by the sum which the member receives weekly that his situation can be judged, but by the share acquired in the ownership of a property already considerable." The following was the position of the association when it took stock on the 30th December 1850. “At this period the number of shareholders was thirty-two. Large workshops and warehouses, rented for 2000 francs, were no longer sufficient for the business,
* “The last two items consisted of safe securities, nearly all of which have since been realized.”
+ “These adherents are workmen of the trade, who subscribed small sums to the association at its commencement: a portion of them were reimbursed in the beginning of 1851. The sum due to creditors has also been much reduced: on the 23rd of April it only amounted to 113 francs 59 centimes.”
# Article by M. Cherbuliez on “OperaThe same admirable qualities by which the associations were carried through their early struggles, maintained them in their increasing prosperity. Their rules of discipline, instead of being more lax, are stricter than those of ordinary workshops; but
tive Associations,” in the Journal des Economistes for November 1860. I subjoin, from M. Williaumé and M. Cherbuliez, detailed particulars of other eminently successful experiments by associated workpeople. “We will first cite,” says M. Cherbuliez, “as having attained its object and arrived at a definitive result, the Association Remauet, of the Rue Garancière, at Paris, whose founder, in 1848, was a foreman in M. Renouard's printing establishment. That firm being under the necessity of winding up, he o to his fellow-workmen to join with im in continuing the enterprise on their own aecount, asking a subvention from the government to cover the purchase-money of the business and the first expenses. Fifteen of them accepted the proposal, and formed an association, whose statutes fixed the wages for every kind of work, and provided for the gradual formation of a working capital by a deduction of 25 per cent from all wages and salaries, on which deduction no dividend or interest was to be allowed during the ten years that the association was intended to last. Remauet asked and obtained for himself the entire direction of the enterprise, at a very moderate fixed salary. At the winding up, the entire profits were to be divided among all the members, proportionally to their share in the capital, that is, to the work they had done. A subvention of 80,000 francs was granted by the State, not without great difficulty, and on very onerous conditions. In spite of these conditions, and of the unfavourable circumstances resulting from the political situation of the country, the association prospered so well, that on the winding up, after repaying the advance made by the State, it was in possession of a clear capital of 155,000 francs [6200l.], the division of which gave on the average between ten and eleven francs to each partner; 7000 being the smallest and 18,000 the largest share. “The Fraternal Association of Working Tinmen and Lampmakers had been founded in March 1848 by 500 operatives, comprising nearly the whole body of the trade. This first attempt, inspired by unpractical ideas, not having survived the fatal days of June, a now association was formed of more modest proportions. Originally composed of forty members, it commenced business in 1849 with a capital composed of the subscriptions of its members, without asking for a subvention. After various vicissitudes, which reduced the number of partners to three, then brought it back to fourteen, then again sunk it to three, it ended by keeping together forty-six mem. bers, who quietly remodelled their statutes in the points which experience had shown
being rules self-imposed, for the mani. fest good of the community, and not for the convenience of an employer regarded as having an opposite interest, they are far more scrupulously obeyed, and the voluntary obedience carries with it a sense of personal worth and
to be faulty, and their number having been raised by successive steps to 100, they pos. sessed, in 1858, a joint property of 50,000 francs, and were in a condition to divide annually 20,000 francs. “The Association of Operative Jewellers, the oldest of all, had been founded in 1831 by eight workmen, with a capital of 200 francs .] derived from their united savings. A subvention of 24,000 francs enabled them in 1849 greatly to extend their operations, which in 1858 had already attained the value of 140,000 francs, and gave to each partner an annual dividend equal to double his wages.” The following are from M. Williaumé:— “After the insurrection of June 1848, work was suspended in the Faubourg St. Antoine, which, as we know, is principally occupied by furniture-makers. Some operative armchair makers made an appeal to those who might be willing to combine with them. Out of six or seven hundred composing the trade, four hundred gave in their names. But capital being wanting, nine of the most zealous began the association with all that they possessed; being a value of 369 francs in tools, and 135 francs 20 centimes in money. “Their good taste, honesty and punctuality having increased their business, they soon numbered 108 members. They received from the State an advance of 25,000 francs, reimbursable in 14 years by way of annuity, with interest at 33 per cent. “In 1857 the number of partners is 65, the auxiliaries average 100. All the partners vote at the election of a council of eight menbers, and a manager whose name represents the firm. The distribution and superintendence of all the works is entrusted to foremen chosen by the manager and council. There is a foreman to every 20 or 25 workmen. “The payment is by the piece, at rates determined in general assembly. The earnings vary from 3 to 7 francs a day, according to zeal and ability. The average is 50 francs [21.] a fortnight, and no one gains much less than 40 francs perfortnight, while many earn 80. Some of the carvers and moulders make as much as 100 francs, being 200 francs [si] a month. Each binds himself to work 120 hours per fortnight, equal to ten per day, By the regulations, every hour short of the number subjects the delinquent to a penalty of 10 centimes [one penny] per hour up to thirty hours, and 15 centimes [1}d.] beyond. The object of this rule was to abolish Saint Monday, and it succeeded in its effort. For the last two years the conduct of the mem. bers has been so good, that fines have fallen into disuse. ... Though the partners started with only 359 francs, the value of the plant (Rue dé
dignity. With wonderful rapidity the associated workpeople have learnt to correct those of the ideas they set out with, which are in opposition to the teaching of reason and experience. Almost all the associations, at first, excluded piece-work, and gave equal wages whether the work done was more
Chavonne, Cour St. Joseph, Faubourg St. Antoine) already in 1851 amounted to 5713 francs, and the assets of the association, debts due to them included, to 24,000 francs. Since then the association has become still more flourishing, having resisted all the attempts made to impede its progress. It does the largest business, and is the most considered, of all the houses in Paris in the trade. Its business amounts to 400,000francs a year.” Its inventory in December 1855 showed, according to M. Williaumé, a balance of 100,398 francs 90 centimes in favour of the association, but it possessed, he says, in reality, 123,000 francs. But the most important association of all is that of the ‘Masons. “The Association of Masons was founded August 10th, 1848. Its address is Rue St. Victor, 155. Its number of members is 85, and its auxiliaries from three to four hundred. There are two managers, one for the building department, the otherfor the pecuniary administration : these are regarded as the ablest master-masons in Paris, and are content with a moderate salary. This association has lately constructed three or four of the most remarkable mansions in the metropolis. Though it does its work more economically than ordinary contractors, yet as it has to give long credits, it is called upon for considerable advances; it prospers, however, as is proved by the dividend of 56 per cent which has been paid this year on its capital, including in the payment those who have associated themselves in its operations. It consists of workmen who bring only their labour, of others who bring their labour and a capital of some sort, and of a third class who do not work, but contribute capital only. “The masons, in the evening, carry on mutual instruction. . They, as well as the arm-chair makers, give medical attendance at the expense of the association,and an allowance to its sick members. They extend their protection over every member in every action of his life. The arm-chair makers will soon each possess a capital of two or three thousand francs, with which to portion their daughters or commence a reserve for future years. Of the masons, some have already 4000 francs, which are left in the common stock. “Before they were associated, these workmen were poorly clad in jackets and blouses; because, for want of forethought,and still more from want of work, they had never 60 francs beforehand to buy an overcoat. Most of them are now as well dressed as shopkeepers, and sometimes more tastefully. For the workman, having always a credit with the association, can get whatever he wants by signing an
“Of this last dividend,” says M. Cherbuliez, “30,000 francs were taken for the reserve fund, and the remaining 100,000, divided among the shareholders, gave to each from 500 to 1500 francs, besides their wages or salaries, and their share in the fixed capital of the concern.”
Of the management of the associations generally, M. Williaumé says, “I have been able to satisfy myself personally of the ability of the managers and councils of the operative associations. The managers are far superior in intelligence, in zeal, and even in politeness, to most of the private masters in their respective trades. And among the as, sociated workmen, the fatal habit of intemperance is gradually .# along with the coarseness and rudeness which are the consequence of the too imperfect education of the class.”
* Even the association founded § M. Louis Blanc, that of the tailors of Clichy, after eighteen months trial of this system, adopted piece-work. One of the reasons given by them for abandoning the original system is well worth extracting. “Besides §. vices I have mentioned, the tailors complained that it caused incessant disputes and quarrels, through the interest which each had in making his neighbours work. Their mutual watchfulness degenerated into a real slavery; nobody had the free control of his time and his actions. These dissensions have disappeared since piece-work was introduced.”—Feugueray, p. 88. One of the most It is the declared principle of most of these associations, that they do not exist for the mere private benefit of the individual members, but for the promotion of the co-operative cause. With every extension, therefore, of their business, they take in additional members, not (when they remain faithful to their original plan) to receive wages from them as hired labourers, but to enter at once into the full benefits of the association, without being required to bring anything in, except their labour: the only condition imposed is that of receiving during a few years a smaller share in the annual division of profits, as some equivalent for the sacrifices of the founders. When members quit the association, which they are always at liberty to do, they carry none of the capital with them: it remains an indivisible property, of which the members for the time being have the use, but not the arbitrary disposal: by the stipulations of most of the contracts, even if the association breaks up, the capital cannot be divided, but must be devoted entire to some work of beneficence or of public utility. A fixed, and generally a considerable, proportion of the annual profits, is not shared among the members, but added to the capital of the association, or devoted to the repayment of advances previously made to it: another portion is set aside to provide for the sick and disabled, and another to form a fund for extending the practice of association, or aiding other associations in their meed. The managers are paid, like other members, for the time which is occupied in
discreditable indications of a low moral condition given of late by part of the English working classes, is the opposition to piece. work. When the payment per piece is not sufficiently high, that is a just ground of objection. But dislike to piece-work in itself, except under mistaken notions, must be dis. like to justice and fairness; a desire to cheat, by not giving work in proportion to pay. Piece.work is of . of contract; and contract, in work, and in the most minute detail—the principle of so much pay for so much service, carried out to the utmost extremity—is the system, of all others, in the present state of society and degree of civilization, most favourable to the worker; though most unfavourable to the non-worker Who wishes to be paid for being idle,
management, usually at the rate of the highest paid labour: but the rule is adhered to, that the exercise of power shall never be an occasion for profit. Of the ability of the associations to compete successfully with individual capitalists, even at an early period of their existence, M. Feugueray+ said, “The associations which have been founded in the last two years” (M. Feugueray wrote in 1851) “had many obstacles to overcome; the majority of them were almost entirely without capital: all were treading in a path previously unexplored; they ran the risks which always threaten innovators and beginners. Nevertheless, in many of the trades in which they have been established, they are already formidable competitors of the old houses, and are even complained of on that account by a o: of the bourgeoisie. This is not only true of the cooks, the lemonade sellers, and hairdressers, trades the nature of which enables the associations to rely on democratic custom, but also in other trades where they have not the same advantages. One has only to consult the makers of chairs, of arm-chairs, of files, and one will learn from them if the most important establishments in their respective trades are not those of the associated workmen.” The vitality of these associations must indeed be great, to have enabled about twenty of them to survive not only the anti-socialist reaction, which for the time discredited all attempts to enable workpeople to be their own employers—not only the tracasseries of the police, and the hostile policy of the government since the usurpation— but in addition to these obstacles, all the difficulties arising from the trying condition of financial and commercial affairs from 1854 to 1858. Of the prosperity attained by some of them even while passing through this difficult period, I have given examples which must be conclusive to all minds as to the brilliant future reserved for the principle of co-operation.f
* Pp. 37–8. t In the last year or two, the co-operative movement among the French working classes has taken a fresh start. An interest. It is not in France alone that these associations have commenced a career of prosperity. To say nothing at present of Germany, Piedmont, or Switzerland (where the Consumers' Union of Zurich is one of the most prosperous co-operative associations in Europe), England can produce cases of success, rivalling even those which I have cited from France. Under the impulse commenced by Mr. Owen, and more recently propagated by the writings and personal efforts of a band of friends, chiefly clergymen and barristers, to whose noble exertions too much praise can scarcely be given, the good seed was widely sown; the necessary alterations in the English law of partnership were obtained from Parliament, on the benevolent and public-spirited initiative of Mr. Slaney; many industrial associations, and a still greater number of co-operative stores for retail purchases, were founded. Among these are already many instances of remarkable prosperity, the most signal of which are the Leeds Flour Mill, and the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. Of this last association, the most successful of all, the history has been written in a very interesting manner by Mr. Holyoake;% and the notoriety which by
ing account of the Provision Association of Grenoble has been given in a pamphlet by M. Casimir Périer; and in the Times of November 24, 1864, we read the following passage : “While a certain number of operatives stand out for more wages or fewer hours of labour, others, who have also seceded, have associated for the purpose of carrying on their respective trades on their own account, and have collected funds for the purchase of instruments of labour. They have founded a society—Société Générale d’Approvisionnement et de Consommation. It numbers between 300 and 400 members, who have already opened a “co-operative store” at Passy, ... is now within the limits of Paris. They calculate that by May next fifteen new self-supporting associations of the same kind will be ready to commence operations; so that the number will be, for Paris alone, from 50 to 60.
* Self-Help by the People—History of Cooperation in Rochdale. An instructive account of this and other co-operative associa*ions has also been written in the Companion to the Almanack, for 1862, by Mr. John Plummer, of Kettering; himself one of the most inspiring examples of mental cultivahion and high principle in a self-instructed working man.
this and other means has been given to facts so encouraging, is causing a rapid extension of associations with similar objects in Lancashire, Yorkshire, London, and elsewhere. The original capital of the Rochdale Society consisted of 28l., brought together by the unassisted economy of about forty labourers, through the slow rocess of a subscription of twopence o, raised to threepence) per week. With this sum they established in 1844 a small shop, or store, for the supply of a few common articles for the consumption of their own fami, lies. As their carefulness and honesty brought them an increase of customers and of subscribers, they extended their operations to a greater number of articles of consumption, and in a few years were able to make a large investment in shares of a Co-operative Corn Mill. Mr. Holyoake thus relates the stages of their progress up to 1857. “The Equitable Pioneers' Society is divided into seven departments: Grocery, Drapery, Butchering, Shoemaking, Clogging, Tailoring, Wholesale. “A separate account is kept of each business, and a general account is given each quarter, showing the position of the '... “The grocery business was commenced, as we have related, in December 1844, with only four articles to sell. It now includes whatever a grocer's shop should include. “The drapery business was started in 1847, with an humble array of attractions. In 1854 it was erected into a separate department. “A year earlier, 1846, the Store began to sell butcher's meat, buying eighty or one hundred pounds of a tradesman in the town. After a while, the sales were discontinued until 1850, when the Society had a warehouse of its own. Mr. John Moorhouse, who has now two assistants, buys and kills for the Society three oxen, eight sheep, sundry porkers and calves, which are on the average converted into 130l. of cash per week. “Shoemaking commenced in 1852, Three men and an apprentice make, and a stock is kept on sale.