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management of this great staple of British industry. It should here be added, that one view of the employers' policy is as follows :—Wishing to secure such a diminution of supply as short time would involve, but finding it impossible to bring many members of their body, owing to diverging interests, to accept the experiment of stopping the mills, they are believed by some to have stuck uncompromisingly to the proposed 10 per cent. reduction, as knowing that the men would reject it and refuse labour, when the mill must stop perforce, and their supposed object would thus be gained. It is impossible to say how far this backhanded policy has really influenced their views. Be that as it may, for nine weeks the life-pulses of the Lancashire cotton trade stood still, thereby procuring in the lump a cessation, which, if distributed at the rate of two days in each week, would have lasted over more than half a year. Yet at the end of the dead-lock no appreciable relief to the overloaded market was found.
As regards the policy of the masters, Mr. J. C. Fielden, on the relief committee in Manchester in aid of the locked-out workmen, wrote and published a letter not long ago, in which, speaking of short time,' he says, ' for two years the masters have been trying in every possible way to bring it about. Attempt after attempt has been made to get up meetings of the trade to adopt short time.' He quotes several published letters in proof of it, and says "he could fill a dozen newspapers with such extracts. Thus it seems likely enough that the enforced cessation for nine weeks, although the employers' policy may not have directly designed it, yet chimed in with their immediate interests. They knew that the operatives were unlikely to be able to hold out very long, and two or three months of closed mills would suit them at any rate better than the perpetual game of opening and shutting for four and two days alternately, like a revolving lighthouse, kept up perhaps for a year together. Thus they would get what they thought a double benefit, the 10 per cent. reduction when the men came in, and the respite from production while the men stopped out.
It is perhaps noteworthy, that the productive energies of the Lancashire loom are so overwhelming that they require to be tempered with these fits of idleness, for fear the world should be choked with twist and shirtings; just like an overactive sheep-dog, whose attentions to the sheep are so pressing that he absolutely requires one of his legs to be tied up. But the remedy seems an economical enormity. Imagine a man who might work the week out for 18s. insisting on
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working four days only and on receiving 145.! It has a curious look about it. But conceive a hundred thousand workpeople in the very vortex of the world's competition, beset by rivals east and west, fighting protective tariffs, from Bombay to Fall River, coolly proposing to spend a third of their working time for an indefinite period in idleness! The proposal outrages all the more sober decencies of sophistry. The fallacies of the most bigoted protectionist seem common sense when compared to this. As well determine that one yard of cotton in every three turned out from the loom shall be burnt as soon as made. Unhappily, men, acting in masses, by the hundred thousand, are proof against ridicule; as well try to tickle a Leviathan; and Lancashire operatives afford no exception to this rule. Besides which they make another serious mistake. Their proposal to close the mills for two days out of six assumes that the Masters' Association is a body drilled and organized to move at the word of command, like their own Trades' Union. Whereas individual mill-owners cannot be made to surrender their independence in this way, for the simple reason that they have no such bond of union as that simple primary passion for high wages and short hours which acts spontaneously on any number of myriads of workmen. Therefore they cannot be set, like a clock, to go slow or fast, 'short time or long,' at pleasure. Of course they have common interests and take common counsel ; but rules which might be profitable, or tolerable to some, would be damaging and intolerable to others. They have no subscriptions to a common fund to ensure against trade losses—a fact which is the primuin mobile of a trades union. This sufficiently establishes a fundamental difference. Thus the men's proposal was inapplicable to the case. .
A good deal of odium was incurred by the employers for declining arbitration. But who was to arbitrate ? Some would think, the Bishop of Manchester and Mr. Gladstone for masters and men respectively. No doubt they would have found time for it, and might have been empowered to refer to the Czar of Russia or the President of the United States as umpire. But, more seriously, how was any arbitrator's decision to be enforced ? Without provision for enforcement the decision is nugatory and the arbitrator ridiculous. On the other hand, if it is to be compulsory, a vital blow is struck at the freedom of trade. Conceive a mill-firm, bleeding to death by heavy and prolonged losses, compelled to continue those losses and go on to bankruptcy; or a hundred thousand workmen obliged to go on for six months, or a year, or indefi
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nitely until trade revives, at unremunerative wages. This seems implied in a decision which is to be compulsory on those who seek it. It would really be an attempt to return to the old-world notion of fixing prices by law. Once begun, why not extend it to other commodities besides labour? If the price of labour may be so fixed, why not that of corn, coal, tobacco, and so forth? But the facts above adduced show that the employers could only bind themselves to accept arbitration at the cost of possible ruin. Many months of ever further falling prices had taught them the necessity of pulling in somewhere, if they hoped to pay their way. A man who finds he cannot pay his coachman, groom, and gardener, is forced to retrench his establishment. What need of an arbitrator to tell him he must? What use of an arbitrator to tell him anything else? On the other hand, if a mere conciliator was wanted to explain misunderstandings and soothe angry friction of colliding interests, there was Alderman Pickop. How he fared in his benevolent project we shall see further on. That his offer should have been rejected by tens of thousands to hundreds, and that the same men who so rejected it should have surrendered, a few weeks later, to the employers' original demand, cannot tend to raise our opinion of the Lancashire operatives' discretion.
Of course, if the principle of 'short time' were sound, it would be as good for iron, pottery, upholstery, boots and shoes, as for cotton. Suppose all dealers or handicraftsmen in these various useful products made the same assumption, that commodities were to be forced to, or kept at a given price by enhancing the cost of production or distribution. Imagine the grocers putting up their shutters on Thursday night to maintain the price of sugar! For this is what it comes to. It is the weekly subsistence of the workmen which forms the real wages, not the weekly shillings, more or fewer. These men want the product of their labour to bring in a six days' subsistence, whilst its real cost is only four days' subsistence. If this were done all round, who could live? Conceive a fifty per cent. added to the cost of all the necessaries of life! Everybody would be pinched to utter penury that lives by industry. “Cleanness of teeth' would be in every dwelling. None would feel the pinch more keenly than the workmen themselves. When, therefore, we find these intercalations of idleness commonly recurring in cycles of industry, as we fear the history of the cotton trade will show has been the case, we are led irresistibly to the conclusion that there must be something wrong in the method of it, and we believe it to be this. Lancashire has such a highly accomplished organization of industry that nothing is so easy as to go on to-morrow doing exactly as was done to-day. The groove is so smooth and the piston works so true, that the numerical results of the machine accumulate faster than the world can absorb them. More jaconets, more shirtings, more twists, follow those of yesterday, and 'the cry is, still they come.' It does not seem to have occurred to Lancashire that it is possible for the world to be too full of these useful products. Thus supply is for ever outrunning demand. Great Britain and the United States are like two mountebanks at a fair, trying each which can pull the yards of tape out his mouth the fastest. Both sides of the Atlantic, to say nothing of many countries of Europe, notably France, have now engaged in the race to see who shall swathe us most deeply in calico. We thought we. had the ball to ourselves, but it proves a round game.
Is it not better to direct energy and capital into newer channels than to go on clogging the old ones ad nauseam ? Why not busy the brain to try what can be done in the way of novelties, instead of only busying the machine and the fingers to bring out more and more of the thing a thousand tines staled ? Try the merits of other fibres, new processes, more imaginative and artistic patterns. Bombay can, with her unlimited command of cheap Indian labour, probably match and undersell you in the coarse cloths she needs. She can command labourers who work fourteen hours a day and seven days in the week for those fabrics. Let her weave and wear them. But let Lancashire, with the lead of the world, and the pick of its markets, trust not to the dull momentum of routine, but to the living energy of invention, to retain and extend the command of the industrial field.
To resume the history of the struggle. When it was about midway through, Mr. Alderman Pickop, of Blackburn, came forward with a proposal, the gist of which was, that the men should accept the proposed reduction for three months, with a revision of the terms at the end of that period, or earlier, if both parties agreed. He urged the fact that to his knowledge many employers would,' owing to the bad state of trade, rather keep their mills closed, even with the reduction, than run them.' The Earl of Shaftesbury and Mr. Mundella, M.P., telegraphed to the weavers' secretaries, urging upon them the acceptance of this suggestion. For a brief time great hopes were entertained of the result, as Mr. Pickop was believed to enjoy as well as to have deserved the confidence of both parties. It was resolved to settle the question by a ballot of the operatives
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taken in all the leading seats of their labour. At Padiham, and possibly elsewhere, they refused even to put it to the vote. In eight Lancashire towns, however, the ballot was taken with the result of nearly 14,000 votes against and less than goo for it. This was on May 23rd. A week later the Mayor of Burnley ventured the suggestion of a reduction of 5 per cent. only for three months, and then, if trade showed no improvement, a further 5 per cent. reduction. Representative meetings of the men at Blackburn and Accrington are said to have approved of this, but the associated masters declined even to meet to consider it.
The main features of the riots, which drew upon not a few Lancashire towns a term of military occupation, unknown for more than a generation previously, are too notorious to require detailed notice. They included almost every variety of outrage on person and property short of actually deadly violence. Mills and private houses were burned or wrecked, their machinery and furniture destroyed, pictures, plate, &c., demolished or plundered. Windows were smashed wholesale, the roadways in several towns were still lying thick with brickbats and broken glass while the police investigations were going on. A dozen constables in Darwen alone were badly hurt, chiefly by stones, about the head. Personal assaults with hooting, pelting, &c., were made in broad daylight upon Alderman E. Birley and other millowners. Mr. Hornby was badly hurt in defending his own house, after offering rool. ransom to the mob who assailed it. Col. R. R. Jackson had the narrowest escape of his life, while his wife and children, chiefly by the address of the coachman who cut his way through the mob, were able to make off, taking nothing with them but 'the clothes in which they stood.' His servants, meanwhile, the house being fired by night, ran some risk of perishing in the flames. "To h- with the servants,' exclaimed the mob leader, a spinner from Blackburn, in reply to the remonstrance of some one in their favour, let the
burn!' Gangs of intimidators went round levying 'blackmail' on the publicans, and, finding it productive, extended their researches to outlying country houses, refusing food and demanding money. The hardest fate was that of a publican nearly blinded by a corrosive fluid thrown at his face deliberately, after much swagger and menace, by one of a party who had been already treated with beer gratis. The fluid had been previously levied without payment from a chemist.
There were conspicuous instances, too, in which the magistrates and civic authorities were not examples of vigilance and
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