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mical friends, who were shocked, in a way that was at once compli mentary and embarrassing, at the idea of our valuable services being given without remuneration. Commercial prudence forbade us to explain, to actual or potential customers, that perhaps the market value of our commercial services was a minus quantity, as this would have cast a slur upon the firm we represented, and yet we could not endure tamely to have our economic orthodoxy impugned. We represented that our commercial reward was in the future'; no new business could be expected to pay more than five per cent. in its first years; and if it was hinted that we might employ ourselves more profitably elsewhere, and that it was uneconomic not to bring our wares to the best market, we were fortunately able to protest, with great sincerity, that shirtmaking was quite as remunerative an industry as, say, publishing books on half-profits, and much less expensive than doing the London season. Anyway in these hard times, an investment paying five per cent. was not to be despised, and the political economists must admit that the market value of commercial management is fairly measured by the dividend it realises, so that we had no reason to consider ourselves underpaid.

Our articles of partnership were drawn up originally for three years, and we had been much impressed by one of the facetice of the Sewing Machine Gazette which set forth the terms of a similar contract. So you are going into partnership with young Brown, Herr Schmidt; what are the terms of the agreement ?' Oh, ve do go into bardnership vor dwo years, and he do vind the money and I do vind the exberience. And what is to happen at the end of the three years ?' "Vy, I vill ’ave de money and he vill ’ave de exberience. At the same time we made the acquaintance of Mr. Lawson's not very encouraging account of Ten Years of Gentleman Farming on Cooperative Principles, and we should hardly have ventured to predict that at the end of eight years of co-operative shirtmaking we should be left in possession both of our money and our experience, together with a faith in human nature and the feasibility of industrial co-operation unimpaired by our own rash attempt to set the world to rights. There must surely be some vitality in the ideas which have allowed us to boast at last of this result. It is the fashion now-a-days to write people's lives before they are dead; so these reminiscences must not be taken as an oraison funèbre celebrating, like Mr. Lawson's book, the decease of the co-operators, but rather as the legacy of a retiring partner, whose place will be more than supplied by a group of ladies and gentlemen earnestly interested alike in co-operation and clothes-making. May their record at the end of another seven years be far more brilliant than the present !

But a more important question than that of the capitalist's immunity from loss is the extent of the operatives' gain. The economists, of course, were anxious that we should pay the market rate

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of wages, whatever that might be—anything else was a pauperising charity; but whether the ‘market rate’ is the highest or the lowest rate paid in the open market or half-way between it was left to our imagination to decide. We adopted the scale of prices current in the best shops, which would presumably have been accepted by a stronger trade society as the standard towards which it was desirable to level up.' Economically, we were bound not to pay less, or we should not have secured the services of the best workers; socially, we should have been glad to pay more, because the best rate of wages is still too low to give an average income, after allowing for illness and slackness of trade, sufficient for the comfortable and wholesome maintenance of a family. Practically we paid all we could afford : more considerably than a private tradesman would have done in our place (nearly 13,0001. in the eight years); less than we might have done if we and the shirtmakers had had our present experience before we bought it; certainly not more than any one desirous of improving the condition of the working classes' must have wished.

By the original scheme, one-fourth of the profits, after paying five per cent. interest on capital, was to be divided as bonus among the workers, and half as dividend among the capitalists, the partners offering to accept as a loan, bearing interest without risk, and entitling the lender to a proportionate share in the half profits, any savings the employees liked to trust them with ; the remaining fourth was to form a reserve fund for the benefit of the workers. From the strictly co-operative point of view, the weak point of ‘Hamilton & Co.' was that the financial risks were borne by the partners, and that wages were paid in full, even when the firm was working at a loss; and the hope of profit at the end of a year is not so strong an incentive to the utmost zeal and economy as the fear of loss next Saturday. On the other hand, since our avowed object was to secure a larger proportion of the earnings of labour to the actual worker, we were right in treating wages as a first charge on the receipts; and though we might have nominally divided more profits among the workers had we spent less on wages (by working longer hours, turning off day workers in slack times, and such like familiar devices), their real share in the earnings of the shop would have been less. After all, we should not have lived in vain if one elderly sempstress owed us the earning of a spare sixpennyworth of tea and sugar for 416 weeks; and not one, but many, have certainly earned spare shillings during these years through our intervention.

As time went on, we came in contact with another difficulty, which has something to do with the lukewarmness of workmen, as a body, in taking up the cause of productive co-operation. That some workers are more skilled than others, and some kinds of skill worth a higher price than others, is admitted and acquiesced in ; what is not acquiesced in is the exceptionally high price commanded by the skill of the born exploiteur, and hence the smallest community tends to split into two camps, of which the financial interests are not identical. Our first and most zealous co-operator began to think herself indispensable, and to feel that the prices paid for other work than hers should be so adjusted as to leave a margin for special recognition of her own peculiarly valuable services. By working harder she might indeed have increased the divisible profits, but if she was to work harder it occurred to her as more inviting to work on her own hook, so as not to have to share such profits with the rank and file, and having learned in the co-operative shop enough of the art of management to set up as a little master,' she left us to do so. This secession, which was not the last of its kind, is typical of the difficulty of a large development of real co-operative production. Those who are born with the knack of driving, or playing • boss, of getting the maximum amount of work out of their subordinates, frankly don't care to exercise their special skill pro bono publico; if they are to make themselves disagreeable by keeping all workers constantly up to the mark, they require to be paid as much as they could earn by driving on their own account. On the other hand, the rank and file look dubiously at so-called co-operation, which means that they are to earn profits to be divided amongst the foremen who are good enough to take the trouble to drive them. Theoretically, we know, co-operation is supposed to have a magic virtue which will make driving in every grade unnecessary. But it is better to face our difficulties frankly. If all the workers are to participate in profits, and the smallest share is to be large enough to stimulate the lowest grade of workers to do their best to earn it, it will seldom happen that the proportion available for the higher grades will be as much larger as they will be disposed to claim. Most industrial partnerships make things pleasant in the higher grades, with which alone the employer comes in contact, and one has to mix unofficially with the workers to get at the view of the other side, which is that the operatives have to work rather harder than elsewhere to earn less than the fair value of the increased amount of work they do. And this, say the democrats, is a fraud : even the Maison Leclaire, according to such critics, is only a collection of petits bourgeois, like the joint-stock millowners at Oldham. Rightly or wrongly, we identified ourselves with the interests of the rank and file, and let our malcontent managers go. The firm in no case suffered from the secessions, which, it should be added, did not occur till after the partners ceased to be in daily contact with the workrooms. But, in a full and true history of the firm's experience, they must be put on record among other conditions of the problem future co-operators will have to grapple

? It was to meet this criticism, advanced by a Socialist workman, that Leclaire decided to let all hands without exception share in the division of the bonus to labour ; but the advantages in the way of pensions, &c., enjoyed by members of the • Mutual Aid Society' are still reserved for a select few.

with. The earnings of a firm of average capacity will not suffice to pay at the same time more than average profits, salaries, and wages to capitalists, managers, and labourers respectively; and eight years' experience of the ways of trade has only confirmed the writer's conviction that salaries need raising less than wages, while profits may be

: very wholesomely reduced.

There was another disputed point of economics upon which we very soon felt able to speak with the authority of personal experience: viz.. the question lately reopened by Mr. George, whether wages are paid out of capital or from the fruits of labour. In 1876 our average weekly expenditure on wages was under 201., so the problem was not of bewildering magnitude; and as the co-operative workshop had been open for several weeks before its earnings reached 201., it is certain that at first wages were paid out of capital, as in any case they must. have been for the first week of all. But if we pass on for a few months, the working shirtmaker's ability to pay wages on Saturday depends upon his having done, and having been paid for doing, work enough that week or previously to provide the money for wages along with other liabilities. If on any occasion it befeil that the bank . balance was low, and a despairing partner had to draw a cheque upon a private account to eke out the missing 201., this would be either because work had been slack and earnings low during preceding weeks, or because the firm's debtors were wanting in punctuality. Practically in every industry, large or small, the payment of wages. has to be advanced out of capital for just as long as it takes for the first returns to come in, according to the custom of the trade in question. A working shirtmaker is paid on Saturday for work done that week; a shipbuilder may stand out of his money for years, but if the normal period for building and selling a ship is, say, three years, the advance is not perpetual, but for that period only: the wages to the shipwrights employed on the second generation of ships are paid out of the money received for the sale of the first generation. And from the socialist point of view it may be argued that the real value of the advance is exhausted with the completion of the first sales. The profits earned by the joint efforts of capital and labour do not belong' to the capitalist before they have been earned, and it is a question to be reasoned or wrestled out between masters and men what share each shall take and transform into their own property for private consumption or saving. No economic law would be outraged, and capital would still seek to employ itself productively, even though wages came to swallow up so large a share of the gross profits that the capitalist did not, as at present, receive interest in perpetuity on the amount of the temporary advance made to his first set of labourers.

One word to justify this insistence upon wages and the need of increased expenditure under that head. For the moment the religious and charitable world is interested in the denizens of the slums; but

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will that world bear to be told that the slums are peopled by those whom they themselves help to send there? What about the shilling bibles and sixpenny or penny testaments which it is supposed to be a good work to disseminate? The women who fold and sew these books must live in slums, with the rest of the vast army whose life amongst us is a slow death upon starvation wages. Are the Bible societies or they to blame if they take to drinking ? Ladies who work among the poor' think it right to save their money for charity, and buy cheap costumes, made far off by the same sisterhood; and who can tell the ladies that their so-called charity is a theft, and they themselves parties to more oppression than the district visiting of a lifetime can atone? Or among the well-to-do who make no pretensions to do more than meet the everyday claims of human honesty and kindness, what lady is there who will renounce a bargain or turn away from the fabulously cheap attractions of the juvenile outfitting warehouse (kept by Israelites not wholly without guile'), because it is physically impossible that the worker's share in the cheap price can represent a maintenance ? Even the working classes themselves are not blameless in the matter; they buy slop goods themselves—what but slop goods can slop-workers ever buy with the pence scraped together by going without food and fire ? Does not the State itself give the first example--laughable if it were not so tragic in its consequences—of political economy gone mad, and, seeking to buy services in the cheapest markets, have the clothing of its soldiers and police made (partly at least) by women whose earnings must be supplemented either by charity, poor rates, or occasional free quarters in hospital or gaol, because they are insufficient for the decent maintenance of a widow with children-a revival of the worst evils of the old poor-law system of rates in aid of wages ?

At the present moment, when even ground landlords are credited with some duties and starving tenants with a few elementary rights, it is surely not too much to ask that wealthy and philanthropic dealers in the labour of the starving shall recognise their responsibility and be required by public opinion to assure themselves that they are not accomplices, willingly ignorant in the sacred name of competition, but none the less accomplices in that underpayment of honest industry which does more than drink, more than vice, more than improvidence to people our slums, and is itself the most fertile mother of all those three. Let the shop-keepers, the manufacturers, and most of all the respectable well-to-do public, which buys from both, look to it, and ascertain, as people would if they learned that there was stolen silver about in the market, that the wares offered to them for purchase have been honestly paid for at each stage in their production, and that the labourers employed, indirectly, in our service are not being starved and brutalised at the bidding of our heedless craving for an illusory cheapness.


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