Miscellaneous (2)
Home Up Autobiography Rochdale Pioneers Leeds Co-op Jubilee Derby Co-op Jubilee Co-operation Bygones Public Speaking Among the Americans The Reasoner Main Index Site Search


 

 
TRANSACTIONS

OF THE

NATIONAL ASSOCIATION

FOR THE

PROMOTION OF SOCIAL SCIENCE.

______________

SHEFFIELD MEETING, 1865.
______________

EDITED BY

GEORGE W. HASTINGS, LL.B.,

GENERAL SECRETARY OF THE ASSOCIATION.
______________

EXCLUDED EVIDENCE.


In addition to the paper by Dr. Waddilove, printed at p. 133, MR. G. J. HOLYOAKE read a paper which dealt with evidence, excluded through conscientious inability to take an oath.  The following is an abstract of the paper: — Christians having a "religious" objection to the oath can make affirmation, but those who are not Theists and have a secular objection to the oath as implying a faith they do not hold, cannot make affirmation at all.  Those who believe in the creed upon which the oath is based, are not obliged to take it, if they have some slight doctrinal objection to it, but those who cannot believe in the creed at all, are obliged to take it or are denied justice.  In the higher courts the oath-taker is obliged to swear upon the New Testament, the truth of which he is, by that act, assumed solemnly to admit, and he is required to believe in a God who will punish perjury in this life.  On the magistrate's bench the oath is a larger, clumsier, and more degrading instrument.  At Quarter Sessions a witness may be questioned and denounced, and to scruple about taking an oath, is a wanton perversity and a misdemeanour, punishable with imprisonment at the pleasure of the court.  A man who doubts either the truth of the Bible, or the existence of an avenging Deity, however sincere his doubts may be, must lie in the presence of his neighbour, or be dismissed from the court as one incapacitated for promoting the ends of justice.  There were two classes of persons, the writer contended, who might decently, and ought fairly to be exempted from the rule.  First, the class who consider that the hateful consequences of lying are inseparably connected with its commission; that there is personal infamy in the very act; that its punishment has commenced in the degradation of the mind in which it is possible; and that it is libellous of the moral government of the world to suppose otherwise.  Of this class are the men who maintain that it is insulting God's majesty to believe that He personally assists magistrates and policemen in ascertaining the truth as it is in petty larceny or street brawls, by engaging to issue celestial execution on common liars.  Of this class was that intrepid and right-minded Lady, who, a short time ago, refused to be sworn to prove a debt of £15, saying — "I will give my word, but I will take no oath.  I think it would be a desecration of God's name in such a case;" and was ordered by the pious County Court judge to leave the court "as a sad example to those in more humble stations in society."  The second class who should be exempted are — Atheists or those who believe that human faculties can but inform us of what is, and not why it is, or how it is, and having endeavoured to found religion on theological principles, have failed.  They do not deny that God is; but, not understanding whether ho be a personal or impersonal entity keep a reverent silence upon what they do not know.  Such men are not unmindful of the truth, it is with them not only a point of honour; it is also a point of interest.  Knowing that society cannot exist without justice, and that justice cannot proceed except upon truth, the Atheist is jealous of its infraction, not only as a sin, but as a danger.  But for that very reason he shrinks from taking an oath, for in the very act of taking it he tells the lie which he abhors.  The writer proceeded to show, by a number of recent cases in our courts, that the present position of persons belonging to these two classes is one of great hardship and injustice.  They must either resign their rights or their conscience, for they are not allowed, as the Christian objectors to an oath, to make a simple affirmation.  If they decline the oath, they are treated as utterly unworthy of credit, and are, in fact, at the mercy of all who like to ill-treat, rob, or insult them.  For such persons it is not unreasonable to claim the simple justice of conceding to them the privilege of the Christian objector to an oath, and relieve them from their equally conscientious objection to taking it.  The same affirmation, attended of course with the same civil penalties for its violation, should be allowed to both, and would certainly be as binding upon both.

______________

 
CO-OPERATION.
Partnerships of Industry.  By G. J. HOLYOAKE.


THE Partnership of Labour is the name given to a new relation between capitalists and producers, under which workmen receive, in addition to their wages, a share of the extra profits they create.  The hitherto existing system of remunerating industry is to hire labour at the lowest rate of wages the labour can be obtained for: the workman giving in return the least amount of work which he can get accepted.  However profitable the business may be at which he works, however rich his employer may become, the workman has no claim to any share in it beyond his stipulated wages.  The general consequences are that he requires to be timed and watched; he adopts the easiest processes; he cares nothing to economise material; he has small pride in his work, and little concern for the reputation or fortune of the firm in whose employ he is.  He changes his situation whenever he can better himself, leaving his master to supply his place as he may, by a strange hand who loses time in familiarising himself with the arrangements of a workshop new to him, or blunders or destroys property for the want of special local experience.  If the workman has no chance of changing his place for a better, he engages in strikes, wastes his own earnings in that expensive experiment, perils the capital and endangers the business of his master.  If his strike succeeds, his master dislikes him because of the loss and humiliation the strike has occasioned.  If his strike fails, the workman is poorer in means and sourer in spirit.  He works only from necessity; he hates his employer with all his heart, he does him all the mischief, and makes all the waste, he safely can.  He gives his ear to alien counsellors and conspires for the day when he can strike again with more success.  Thus there exists a chronic war of industry in every town in the land.  The workman has no respect for his master, who devotes his genius and enterprise to building up a great business, who risks his capital, and lives under the slavery of anxious thought, in order to increase his own and the public wealth, and raise the national character for excellence of manufacture.  A proud desire to co-operate with his employer seldom enters the workman's mind.  Worse than this, he has little pride in his own handicraft; he does not care to do the best he can, and perhaps feels no shame when any piece of work leaves his hand bearing no impress of his thought, truth, or skill.  On the other hand, his master as rarely understands that he should see in his workman a man.  He forgets that an employer should be a gentleman, and friend of his workman, that it is part of his honour that his people should do well and look well; should be content and proud to serve him, that they should have the means to dress cleanly and comfortably, and live in houses which render themselves and families healthy.  An employer should be as proud to show his men as to show his machinery.  He should wish to satisfy them that the common profits of the concern to which they are asked to give their toil and skill, shall be shared with them in proportion to their confidence and trust, their economy and industry, their ingenuity and success.

    This state of things is likely to come about.  The first indications are springing up.  This great country is full of employers as nobly disposed as any workmen.  It has long been known that many masters were willing to institute partnerships between labour and capital if any practical plan could be devised for doing it.  Earl Grey, several years ago, took pains to inquire for such plans, that he might commend them to adoption.

    Because sentimental people were in favour of these partnerships, it was hastily concluded that there could be none save a sentimental way of working out the principle, whereas it is founded upon a new and shrewd perception of business profits.

    It is well known that if each workman gave his mind to his work, and put his goodwill into it, for the benefit of his employers, they could together create a new amount of profit.  Take one instance.  It has been calculated that the working colliers at Whitwood and Methley could, by simply taking the trouble to get the coal in large lumps, and reducing the proportions of slack, add to the colliery profits £1,500 a year.  If they would further take a little extra care below ground, in keeping the best coal separate from the inferior, they could add another £1,500 to the profits.  In these two instances alone, men working — not with good will instead of bad will, but with good will instead of no will, could create £3,000 a year.

    Now, a man of original business sagacity, looking at these facts, which are true less or more in all trades, would say — "I discover herein a new method of making money.  I see my men can, if they had a motive to do it, create for me £3,000 a year.  If I gave them £1,500 of it, they would have that motive, they would be delighted — I should appear a great benefactor in their eyes; and I should be a benefactor, too, for I should put in their way, and place it within their power to add £1,500 a year to their wages.  We should be on good terms after this.  They would not strike after this, for they would get more on this plan than they could by striking, and loss, discredit, and discomfort on both sides would be avoided.  Trades' unions could have no motive for opposing this plan, since it establishes the very thing they are formed to obtain, the recognition of labour as property.  Besides, the plan would cost me nothing, and I should merely be giving the workmen back the money they have created.  Indeed, they would be also adding to my profits £1,500, for having had the sagacity to see the advantage and the good feeling to act upon the plan.  Decidedly, this is a new element in the economy of production.  Humanity pays.  I have been told that this plan was mere impracticable, costly sentimentality.  I find it is a plan of profit as well as of credit and peace.  There will be little trouble in devising regulations for carrying this plan out.  I have only to fix upon that percentage of profit which pays me to carry on my business, and to say to my men I expect and require to make 10 per cent, (or 20 per cent., as the risk may be), such is now my average paying profit, and for the future all we make above this by your co-operation, good will, prudence, care, and skill in working, I will divide with you and add to your wages."  This is the theory of the partnerships of industry, cleared of all sentimentality and the confusion of ideas which surround new discoveries in economical science.

    It is simply a wholesome utilitarian principle applied to industry.  These partnerships are based on a principle from which all new civilisation has sprung — a principle of intelligent selfishness.  Self-interest which seeks its ends through a liberal consideration of the interests of others, pays far better than the savage covetousness which impatiently picks the bones of labour.

    Good feeling alone will not conduct a large commercial concern — there needs self-interest tempered by good sense, and this good sense now perceives that a thousand workmen will produce far more profit if they have an interest in what they are doing, and have a motive to avoid waste of material, loss of time, and to work with all their skilfulness.  The workmen who can be induced to act in this way, create in a year an additional sum of money for their employer.  And if the employer divides this new profit with his men, he benefits the men as they were never benefited before, and employers obtain half the new profit thus created as an additional bonus to themselves, as a reward for their trust in the men, and for their own sagacity and good sense.

    The credit among the master class, of being first to set the example of improving the relations of employer and producers, is due to the eminent firm of Sir Francis and John Crossley, names distinguished for local munificence to the town of Halifax.  Their carpet works cover eighteen and a half acres of flooring, and represent a million and a half of capital.  This great private business they have converted into a public company, and have made all their workpeople, amounting to 4,500 men, women, and children, even minors and married women, all eligible to invest their savings as shareholders; thus giving to every producer an opportunity of exchanging the servile position of a hired labourer for that of the dignity of a joint possessor of the mill floor on which he treads, and sharing the renown and profits of the firm to which his toil and skill contribute.  This great example is entitled to honour.

    The Messrs. Henry Briggs and Son, proprietors of the Whitwood and Methley Collieries, have had the distinction of carrying the principle of industrial partnership further, and of being the first employers to recognise labour as property entitled to profits.

    Taking the average profits their capital ought to produce, they fix upon 10 per cent, as the amount that must be realised, they have converted their business into a company, and admit, like the Messrs. Crossleys, all their workmen who choose to invest their savings in shares.  And if any do not or cannot, it is provided that all profits over 10 per cent, shall be divided between the shareholders who have risked their capital in the business, and the workmen whose devotion and skill have produced the profit — in the ratio of two-thirds to shareholders and one-third to workmen.  This is the first time any employers have thus formally recognised the poor man's labour as property.  This is a distinction not to be mentioned without gratitude, and of immense significance in the industrial progress of the future.  I have visited the Whitwood Colliery, as I wished to see for myself the spot where this sacred change has begun.  I was allowed to descend into the pits, as I wished to judge of the security for life for which these collieries are known.  Being invited by the men to make a speech to them, I addressed them as "The first Englishmen whose labour employers had recognised as their property; and counselled them to err for the first time on the side of confidence, to listen to no suspicions, to abate no exertion, that this new compact of capital with industry might succeed for the sake of their brethren — to respect themselves, to entertain no uncomfortable or ungenerous criticism of their master's motives; but, like men of sense in the middle class, to fix their attention on the tendency of the scheme to promote their own benefit, and give their employers honourable credit for a proposal whose tendency is the workman's advantage.  Made in the face of the nation, applauded by the most eminent friends of labour, the compact could never go back if they were faithful to it; and the noblest experiment commenced in our time would be dated from those pits in which they worked.  It was now in their power not only to raise their wages, but to raise their order."  I can bear my testimony, from examination, that the system of accounts devised by the Messrs. Briggs for enabling the men to secure the profit that may accrue to them is simple, accessible, and satisfactory.  The experiment bids fair to succeed, as more coal has been worked since it was commenced than has been worked before in the same time.

    With that commercial sagacity which belongs to Manchester, the new principle of partnership of industry has been quickly appreciated by the financial agents, Messrs. Greening and Co., who advise its introduction into new companies.  A now company, entitled the Clayton Plate and Bar Iron Company, includes among its directors names honoured in the ranks of labour, those of Jacob Bright, Alderman Abel Heywood, and Dr. John Watts.  This company carries the new principle of partnership further than the Messrs. Briggs, and includes, like a co-operative store, the customer in the division of profits.  After 10 per cent, has been realised for the capitalists, the sum of profit in excess is divided into three equal parts — one-third to the purchasers from the company during the year, in proportion to the sums paid by each for goods; one-third to the shareholders, according to the shares held by each; one-third to the officers, clerks, and workmen, according to the salaries or wages of each of them during the year.  This is the most perfect approach to that definition of co-operation which Mr. J. S. Mill, M.P., gave at the Whittington Club, London, in 1864.  His words were — "It is not co-operation where a few persons join for the purpose of making a profit from cheap purchases, by which only a portion of them benefit.  Co-operation is where the whole of the produce is divided.  What is wanted is that the whole of the working classes should partake of the profits of labour.  We want that the whole produce of labour shall, as far as the nature of things permit, be divided among the contributors and producers."

    Thus, on this shrewd system of the Partnership of Industry, the customers who keep the works always going by the continuity of their orders, save waste and delay, and create more than the return they receive.  The workmen, by their intelligent faithfulness, create more than the addition to their wages awarded to them, and the capitalist not only secures his percentage of interest, but new additions which otherwise would never exist.  Only two firms at present appear to understand this — the Whitwood and Clayton Companies.  Even the Colliery Guardian, which should understand the interest of the coal and iron masters, indulges in demented ridicule of "the sanguine expectations of the benevolent gentlemen who penned the prospectus of the Clayton Plate Company."  Because philanthropists have an earlier sense of justice than other men, and are first inclined to an equitable scheme, the mere trading spectator sees nothing but philanthropy in it, and overlooks the clement of industrial equity in it, and does not know that equity always pays.

    Owing to the confusion of ideas that attends all new subjects, even the workmen everywhere damage their own case, and consent to describe this division of new profits as a "bonus to labour," whereas it is really a new bonus to capital.  Even in Rochdale, where good sense is prevalent, the co-operators will call it a "bonus to labour," which gives a false idea to capitalists — obscures in their mind what they are called upon to agree to, and gives them the impression that they are required, on grounds of philanthropy, to relinquish a portion of their profits as capitalists in favour of workmen who have no capital themselves.  It was this confusion of ideas that caused the Rochdale Manufacturing Society to retrace its steps and blunder back into the old system of care and loss; which appears to gain all while it loses half.  The Manufacturing Society of Rochdale gave up their plan not, as the London Spectator said, because it failed — they gave it up before they tried it.  The majority never understood the principle of it.  They said, "Why should we give a portion of our profits to workmen?  Other employers do not."  They did not see that instead of giving profits they would gain more profits.  They did not see that the profits proposed to be divided were extra profits — new profits which would never exist but by this arrangement; and the wiser minority who did understand it were not allowed to raise this issue, and it was predicted at the time by the present reader, in a paper contributed to the Morning Star, that shrewd masters would be the first to see their way to it.

    The head of a family who observes what takes place in his own house, knows enough to understand this question.  Good servants are so scarce that few householders have the good fortune to meet with them.  An educated, managing, economical, trusty servant or nurse, will always save more than her wages and cost.  You never care to a guinea or two what wages you pay her.  You do not give it to her, she gives to you more than that, by her personal economy, by the example she sets, and the peace which she diffuses around her; by the absence of superstitious tales, coarse habits, and ignorant speech, which otherwise would contaminate your family, who must in their childhood come in contact with her.  And in great commercial undertakings, what high salaries are given to managers of ability and trust, who can think for themselves, and think to some purpose, and by their care, foresight, judgment, and administrative talent, increase the reputation and profits of the concern.  This quality of men is very rare.  A manager whose mind and disposition is wholesome and genial, who can be busy without being petulant, active without being tyrannical, and display with all a creative business capacity, earn their high salaries many times over.  The munificent remuneration they receive is never spoken of as a bonus to servants.  It is well understood economy to pay them well.

    The same rule holds good in the Partnerships of Labour.  They are not devised as philanthropic plans.  They arise in an extension of commercial sagacity.  These gentlemen who take the lead, foresee that if it is economy to give the leading servants in a firm an interest in what they are doing — it must be equally an net of economy to give the whole body an interest in what they are doing.  If anyone writes to Mr. Mill, Professor Fawcett, or Louis Blanc, and solicits notice of this step from these distinguished authorities, whose word of approval is reputation — if Mr. Mill does, as he has done in his new edition of his "Political Economy," publish words of priceless distinction of the Messrs. Briggs' proposal — it is done because they were the first to adopt a plan of a new and enlightened form of self-interest, which includes with their own benefit also the benefit of the workman.  But when the public begin to understand what really takes place, they will cease to regard this new plan of the Partnership of Labour as a philanthrophic one; they will estimate it as a new form of enlightened commercial shrewdness which pays.

    The fact is, Political Economy — that unrecognised benefactor of the working classes — is apt to mistake the mechanic for the machine.  It sees that the workman must have average wages, or he will go elsewhere; but it does not otherwise see that the workman is a live thing, and that he has within him a brain and will, which, if purchased, will also produce profit.  The old system of mastership merely buys his stomach — the new Partnership of Industry buys his thought and energy, and this new investment will pay better than the old.  The scheme will not at first advance rapidly, because workmen are often incapable of enduring any plan by which an employer profits; and will rather forego a great addition to their own wages than see him gain by it.  I could tell of scores of schemes, in which gentlemen have risked their fortunes to benefit workmen, who as soon as they saw that their intending benefactors expected to gain a profitable investment for their money by it, these scoundrel workmen — as they would deserve to be called had they sense enough to see what they were doing — ceased to support it, and caused the ruin of the generous projectors.  Whereas it was to the interest of the workmen that these capitalists should benefit, and be known to benefit most, when they included in their schemes the benefit of the workmen.  No fear that these Partnerships of Industry will advance too fast.  They are too good for that.  If it be true that nothing succeeds like success, it is more true that nothing progresses so slowly as progress.

    It would however be ingratitude to conclude this subject without acknowledgments to Mr. Scholefield, M.P. for Birmingham, for the Bill he introduced, and to Mr. Milner Gibson, who, on the part of the Government, have carried it through Parliament — making it legal for employer or shopkeeper to pay his workmen or servants with a proportion of his profit, without making the workman or servant a partner, and placing the whole property of the concern at his mercy.  We owe thanks to that great Lord Chancellor who lately occupied the woolsack for his powerful and sagacious support of this Bill in the House of Lords, who confuted the ancient fallacies of commercial authorities, and rendered these Partnerships of Industry legal in England.


――――♦――――

 
THE DEMAND FOR WORKMEN'S
TRAINS.

____________

TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES.
Friday, Mar 10, 1899.


    Sir,—For several years there has been a growing desire in London and elsewhere to procure an increase in workmen's trains and cheaper fares.  Of the desirableness and necessity of these objects there is no difference of opinion.  But it is strange to notice no one betrays any consciousness that compliance with these demands must depend upon the power of railway companies to meet them.  They are all under obligation to their shareholders, whose money they have received on an engagement of returning a reasonable interest for its use.  Besides, companies are harassed by a capricious taxation from which stage coaches, omnibuses, tramcars, and light railways are exempt, and have further imposed upon them the duties of tax-collectors, of which they have to defray all the expenses of clerkage.  No one would think of bringing a bill into Parliament to compel bankers to sell 12 penny loaves for 10d.  Is a Bill to compel a railway to do a similar thing less unjust?  If this be not intended, should it not be made plain that the new demands are founded upon the ascertained financial capacity of the companies to meet it?  No one supposes that Mr. Buxton, whose name is on the new Bill, is a partisan of confiscation.  Nor is Mr. Maddison (whose name is also on the back of the Bill), who, as editor of the Railway Review, gave disinterested proof of his attachment to prudence and justice, open to even the suspicion of being indifferent as to equity to public companies.  But this agitation for cheaper trains is made in the name of the working class, and it is unfair to them to leave it to be supposed that they are ready to put their own interests first and other people's rights second.

    I know that is may be pleaded that the Board of Trade is sufficient security that no unfair claim shall be enforced without its authority.  The Board of trade will know how to take care of its own honour.  Let the working class take care of theirs; let no claim be made in their name that is not obviously honest.  Whoever may need the Board of Trade to protect the public from their demands it should not be the working class.

    For more than 20 years I have been chairman of the Travelling Tax Abolition Committee—representing the interests of the "poorer class of travellers," as an early Act of Parliament describes them.  Our sympathy has always been with cheaper fares and increased conveniences for working people, but we felt that no demands could be made fairly upon the railway companies so long as we acquiesced in the disabling taxation to which they are subjected.  To this end we were the most persistent applicants to Mr. Childers, who repealed the penny-a-mile duty, which reduced the taxation of the working class traveller more than £400,000 a year.  Sir Stafford Northcote told us he would repeal the tax were he sure it would not go into the pockets of the companies.  This fear was groundless, as is shown in the reduction of fares since, far below the stipulation of any Act of Parliament, with an increase of facilities beyond any requirement of the Board of Trade, who would have gone further had the Inland Revenue Board concurred.  The Board of Trade has always been, like the first Sir Robert Peel, the friend of the industrial passenger, as we have often had occasion to acknowledge.  If railways, as is now alleged, are in receipt of fabulous millions since Mr. Childers reduction of the tax, how is it that average receipts to paid-up capital, which before the repeal in 1882 were 4.32 per cent., have fallen in 1896 to 3.88?

    The continuance of the tax upon second and first class fares is a perpetual embarrassment in railway management—restricting conveniences and advantages which might have been conceded to labour travellers.  Parliament does not attempt to tax tramway passengers, as it would restrict the cheapness and convenience of all, and put an end to the existence of many.  Parliament has refused to tax light railways, which in most cases would prevent them from being brought into existence.  The public can see in all the manner in which the travelling tax has always impaired the efficiency of railways.

    Is it reasonable to expect much from railways when they are thus hampered?  Is it fair to ask Parliament to impose upon them new conditions to service unaccompanied by demand that the railway should be relieved from disabling taxation?

                                                             Faithfully yours,
                                                                                GEORGE JACOB HOLYOAKE.
            Eastern-lodge, Brighton.


――――♦――――

 


 

[Home] [Up] [Autobiography] [Rochdale Pioneers] [Leeds Co-op Jubilee] [Derby Co-op Jubilee] [Co-operation] [Bygones] [Public Speaking] [Among the Americans] [The Reasoner] [Main Index] [Site Search]

Correspondence should be sent to Webmaster@Gerald-Massey.org.uk