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nature of the operations involved. After the seed has been planted, time must be given it to grow, and this would be so even if there were no winter. So in the fisheries it is not stress of weather alone which obliges the laborer to lie idle portions of the year, but in part the reproductive necessities of the fish. In other instances it is the force of the seasons alone which makes employment irregular, as for example in the brickmaking,' quarrying, carpentering, house-painting, and sundry other out-door trades.
The loss of time from sickness, as shown by the statistics of friendly societies and by other evidence, varies greatly in different localities and occupations : an element that can not properly be excluded from the discussion of comparative wages, as such sickness involves not only loss of labor, but also, generally, a positive expense for attendance and medicine.
The following table from Mr. Alex. Glen Finlaison's report (1853) on sickness and mortality in friendly societies, shows the experience of certain large groups of occupations in this respect :
'In brickmaking, in England, it is estimated that men can be employed but 45 weeks in the year, in consequence of rain and frost. In the Northern States of America the failure of employment is for a much longer period.
What we call social causes in restriction of employ, ment include the habits of a community respecting festivities and religious observances.' Vauban estimated the loss of labor in France from fête days and Sundays at 90 days in the year. In some Catholic countries the holidays more or less scrupulously observed exceed, including Sun. day, one hundred. Among the Hindoos they are said to consume nearly half the year. It is doubtless true that poverty sometimes joins with superstition' in imposing excessive fasts, and the want of work may account for the readiness with which a population surrenders itself to celebrating the virtues of a saint; yet there can be no doubt that a force not industrial operates in some countries in reduction of the number of days of labor. A very common multiplier taken in England and the United States in reckoning annual earnings is 300; yet there can be little doubt that this is an exaggeration.
But there are also industrial causes of a general nature
Mr. Lecky remarks of holidays in Catholic countries : “ The num. ber that are compulsory has been grossly exaggerated."--History of Rationalism, ii. 323.
Diplomatic and consular reports to the British Government give perhaps the most recent and exact information on the subject of holidays in the Greek Church.
Consul Calvert reports from Montastir that, reckoning Sundays, there are more than one hundred days in the year when the Christians voluntarily cease work (1870, p. 244). Consul Stuart states the number of days besides Sundays which the Eastern Church attempts to with. draw from labor at 48. Formerly, he says, the number was greater; but the opposition of the working classes to the loss of so much time has caused a reduction in this respect, which will doubtless proceed further (1871, p. 780). Mr. Gould gives the number of working days in Greece as 265 (1870, p. 500). Consul Sandwith gives the number of fête days in Crete as 30 (1872, p. 382). Consul Egerton states that in Russia “ besides Sundays there are about 24 holidays in the year, when no work is allowed. Some are saints' days; others, state holi. days" (1873, p. 111).
* Gibbon, chap. xlvii., of the Jacobites, whose five annual Lents the historian is disposed to regard as an instance of “making a virtue of necessity."
which of late years are operating more and more to interrupt the continuity of production and render employment precarious. These causes, though general in their origin, do yet affect localities and occupations very diversely, introducing thus a new element of great difficulty into the problem of wages. Thus there is no reason from the nature of the operations involved, why cotton-spinning should not proceed equably through all the months of the year, but in fact the demands of modern trade require that periods of heavy production shall alternate with periods of dulness and depression. In the same way the aggregation of vast numbers of workmen into factories for the manufacture of boots and shoes has introduced an irregularity into that branch of manufacture which did not exist when it was confined to the small shop where the master worked with an apprentice and perhaps a journeyman, and made goods for a well-defined and permanent body of customers.
Among the industrial causes which introduce this disturbance into the employment of labor must of course be included strikes and lock-outs. Dr. John Watts has furnished some very instructive computations as to the first cost of strikes. Thus, assuming five per cent addition to existing wages to be the matter in dispute between the employer and the laborer, he shows that if the strike succeeds its results will be, roughly speaking, as follows ::
Mr. Dudley Baxter, speaking of the operatives in this branch of industry, wrote: “ We all know their periodical distresses. It may be said that these were accidents. They are not mere accidents, but inci. dents-natural incidents of our manufacturing economy. They are sure to recur under different forms, either from gluts, or strikes, or war, and they must be allowed for in computations of earnings."-National Income, p. 45.
"In 1829 tbe weavers of Lancashire and Cheshire were earning, at best, from 48. 4fd. to 68. per week when at work. The most favored had to wait a week or two between one piece of work and the next; and about a fourth of the whole number were out of employ altogether."--Martineau, History of England, iii. 167.
• Statistical Journal, xxiv. 501. I have sought to show elsewhere (p. 391, n.) that all the time occupied by a strike is not necessarily lost.
Years of work at
the extra rate. The loss of 1 lunar month's wages will require to make it up, 13
“ The strike of the London builders in 1859 was for 10 per cent of time or its equivalent, 10 per cent of wages; and as it lasted 26 weeks, would, if successful, have required 10 years of continuous work at the extra rate to make up the loss of wages sacrificed. The amount in dispute between the weavers of Colne and their employers did not average more than 34 per cent, and had the strike been successful, would have required more than 28 years continuous employment at the advance to make up the amount of wages lost, by which time the lost wages would, at 5 per cent (interest), have quadrupled.” This Colne strike lasted 50 weeks; the great Preston strike, 38 weeks; the Padiham strike, 29 weeks.
Computations like these do not of themselves show that strikes can not advantage the working classes, but they do show the necessity of taking such elements into account in reducing nominal to real wages.
The joint effect of all the causes enumerated as affecting the regularity of employment is very considerable. Prof. Leone Levi, in his treatise on Wages,' estimates the lost time of all the persons returned as pursuing gainful occupations in England to be 4 weeks in the year, and deems this loss covered by the exclusion of all persons over 60 years of age, leaving those below employed full time. To this Mr. Dudley Baxter, in his admirable work on “National Income,” rejoins that if this were 80, there would be no able-bodied paupers in England. Mr. Baxter goes forward to show the inadequacy of Prof. Levi's estimate in terms which I shall do well to quote:
“I will take a good average instance (and a very large
one) of the way in which wages are earned in the building trades. These trades form a whole, and include carpenters, bricklayers, masons, plasterers, painters, and plumbers, and number in England and Wales about 387,000 men above twenty years of age. It is only the best men, working with the best masters, that are always sure of full time. These trades work on the hour system, introduced at the instance of the men themselves, but a system of great precariousness of employment. The large masters give regular wages to their good workmen, but the smaller masters, especially at the east end of London, engage a large proportion of their hands only for the job, and then at once pay them off. All masters when work grows slack immediately discharge the inferior hands and the unsteady men-of whom there are but too many among clever workmen—and do not take them on again until work revives. In bad times there are always a large number out of employment. In prosperity much time is lost by keeping Saint Monday and by occasional strikes. Let us turn to another great branch of industry, the agricultural laborers, whose numbers are: men, 650,000; boys, 190,000; women, 126,000; and girls, 36,000. Continuous employment has largely increased since the new Poor Law of 1834, and good farmers now employ their men regularly. But in many places such is not the custom. Near Broadstairs, in Kent, I was told that, on an average, laborers were only employed 40 weeks in the year. Mr. Purdy's figures of the influence of the seasons on agricultural employment show that the wages paid in the second quarter of the year, on a large estate in Notts, were 20 per cent more than in the first quarter. In the harvest quarter they were more than double. He also mentions the significant fact that the pauperism of the five most agrarian divisions of England is greater in February than in August by 425,000 against 370,000, or 55,000 persons. These 55,000 represent a great prevalence of the custom of turning off laborers at the slack season. So that even so far as the men