« НазадПродовжити »
A controversial advantage might be taken, by one inimically disposed, of the fact, brought so startlingly to light by recent actuarial inquiry, that nearly all the friendly societies of Great Britain have been conducting their business on an unsound basis, and that, in consequence, they have involved themselves in obligations which their realized and anticipated funds will be inadequate to meet;' but it ought, in fairness, to be remembered, in extenuation, that the British Government was in 1819 discovered, by Mr.
members out of work ; also, for granting assistance in cases of extreme distress not otherwise provided for by the rules." The proposed member “must be in good health, have worked five years at the trade, be a good workman, of steady habits, of good moral character, and not more than forty-three years of age.” The admission-fee is 28. 6d. ; the weekly payment 18. The several benefits are as follows: “ Donation benefit for 12 weeks, 108. per week ; for another 12 weeks, 6s. per week; for leaving engagement satisfactory to branch and executive council, 158. ; tool benefit, to any amount of loss (or when a man has been a member for only six months, £5); sick benefit for 26 weeks, 128. per week, and then 6s. per week so long as his illness continues; funeral benefit, £12 (or £3 10s, when a six-months' member dies); acci. dent benefit, £100; superannuation benefit for life : if a member 25 years, 8s. per week ; if a member 18 years, 78. ; if a member 12 years, 58. The emigration benefit is £6, and there are benevolent grants, according to circumstances, in cases of distress."
The following is the exhibit of the liabilities and assets of the “Man. chester Unity," an association numbering 426,663 members, and hav. ing 3488 places of business :
LIABILITIES. Present value of Sick Benefits....................... £8,548 592 " Funeral Benefits to members......... 1,775 162
to wives........... 444 086
Finlaison, to have been for twelve years doing quite as foolish a thing in the sale of its annuities. The friendly societies have, so far as appears, shown every disposition to correct an error which it has taken the actuaries of England some time to discover.
Of the advantages of making the trade the unit of life and health insurance, much could be said. Only two points need be mentioned: first, it affords the very perfection of advertisement and agency. This is the weak point of life insurance as it exists outside of natural associations, like trades and professions. The report of the Insurance Commissioners of Massachusetts for 1870 shows that, of the companies doing business in that State, seventeen per cent of the gross receipts went to expenses; and of this, ten and a half per cent went in commissions to agents. But this is not all. Even agencies sustained at such an expense fail to give the system of life insurance any thing like the extension which its economical advantages deserve, while among the working classes who especially need insurance, since calamities with them cut so deep into the quick and work such lasting injury, the ordinary sort of life insurance performs scarcely an appreciable office. But a friendly society, confined to a particular trade, having a natural constituency more or less bound together by personal acquaintance and common interests, and actually managed by its contributors, furnishes, as has been said, the very perfection of advertisement and agency. Secondly, to make the trade the unit of life and health insurance, affords the most equitable rule of contribution. Wide differences exist as to the healthfulness and longevity of occupations, as has been shown by some instances previously cited.' In the friendly society men
The loss to the government was estimated by Mr. Finlaison at £95,000 a year.
: Pp. 36–38. Speculators in British annuities under the bill of 1808 had a penchant for Scotch gardeners, these appearing to constitute the longest-lived class recognized in the statistical tables.
who belong to long-lived and healthy trades, and whose money wages are perhaps considerably reduced in consequence thereof, are not obliged to pay for the sickness and the premature mortality of members of other trades, who are perhaps paid much higher rates, in compensation for the dangers and hardships of their work.
But of trades-unions as friendly societies it is enough here to say that these humane and useful provisions can be better accomplished by associations which do not assume or attempt to legislate on the methods of industry, or to dictate terms to employers, than by societies which are liaable at any time to be dragged into protracted and exhausting contests, and compelled to expend in industrial warfare the funds long and painfully gathered against the providential necessities of labor. The trade-clubs of Denmark and the Netherlands and the “artels” of Russia are examples of friendly societies which avoid this dangerous confusion of functions. The distinction between trade-societies and benefit-societies is also very strongly marked in Prussia. In 1860 the relief-societies amounted to 3644, with an aggregate membership of 427,190 and an annual income of nearly one million dollars.'
In France these societies are, under the decree of 1852, classified as “approved” or “authorized.” The total number in 1867 was 5829, of which 4127 were approved and 1702 authorized. Those which are approved conform to the requirements of the statutes, and enjoy certain privileges in consequence. The funds of the societies at the close of 1867 amounted to forty-six millions of francs, the annual receipts rising to fourteen millions. Members had received sick-allowances during that year to the extent of 3,998,216 days. The total membership of both classes of societies reached 750,590, of whom 120,387 were women.'
In Denmark, Mr. Strachey reports not more than one
1 Ward's Workmen and Wages, p. 209. a Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes, 1870, pp. 479-482.
workman in fifteen, or at the outside one in ten, as subscribing to sick-clubs.' In Italy, Mr. Herries reports about 600 friendly societies, with a membership not ascertained.' In Russia the only species of friendly societies existing is the “ artel," a small club rarely of more than thirty or forty members, more often of but ten to twenty.'
It is in Great Britain that we find friendly societies inost widely spread and taking deepest root among the working classes. The Commissioners in their Fourth Report (1874) estimate that in England and Wales there are 32,000 such societies, with an aggregate of four million members and an accumulation of funds in hand in excess of fifty-five millions of dollars. They add an estimate that these societies save to the poor-rates ten million dollars a year.
But, secondly, besides the offices already indicated, trades-unions effect the object, whether desirable or not, of sequestering their respective trades, reducing the accessions by apprenticeship to the minimum, and practically prohibiting all accessions to their number, after the first general muster, except through the door of apprenticeship, thereby strictly limiting the number of workmen in each occupation and keeping the price of their services artificially high.
By what means the constant warfare upon non-society men is carried on; by what arguments and appliances able workmen are convinced that it would be for their interest to enter these close labor-corporations; to what shifts the excluded are put for employinent in the presence of powerful societies, proscribing them and all who
Report on the Condition of the Industrial Classes, 1870, p. 509. • Report for 1871, p. 290. . Mr. Egerton's Report of 1873. * Report, pp. xvi, xvii.
. This appears to be the sole office of the Associations of artisans ("esnaf”) in European Turkey. Mutual succor is an object which scarcely appears in their organizations.
shall employ them, or on what terms of humiliation they are at times tolerated, it is not my purpose to speak in detail here. To the objection that, by the organization of such close industrial corporations, the great body of laborers are, in a degree, shut out from the benefits of employment, while the enhanced prices of labor, thus protected from competition, are in a great measure paid by the unprotected wage-laborers, whose condition is rendered only the more miserable, the advocates of trades-unions make in substance these answers:
First, that without such restrictions the increase of uninstructed and unprovided labor would cause every trade to be overrun in turn, the wages in each being slowly but surely brought down, and the whole body of workmen degraded to the lowest level of mere animal subsistence; that nearly all the trades in England were in that condition when the unions undertook the work of restriction; that for those trades which are now happily rescued from such a condition and lifted to a position of industrial independence, to remove their barriers out of sympathy with the general mass of labor and admit all freely into competition, would afford but the briefest relief, inasmuch as the improvidence of the ignorant, weak, and vicious would soon fill the space thus opened with just as hungry and wretched a crowd as now surges outside the barriers, and the sole effect would thus be to ruin the privileged trades without helping their less fortunate brethren, as a drowning man catches and drags down one who might swim and save himself.
Secondly, that instead of the associated trades throwing themselves thus away in a delusive Quixotism, they do in effect accomplish a much better result for the less skilled laborers by maintaining a high standard of work and wages, and by acting, in their strong estate, as a bulwark against the invasions of “ capital,” affording example and opportunity to all inferior bodies of labor to associate and govern themselves by similar methods.