Press enter after choosing selection

Trials Of The Toilers

Trials Of The Toilers image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
OCR Text

Special Correspondenoe lo the Courier. Vopyrighledbythe Author. Glasgow, Aug 10, 1888. "Our workmen are wrought likeslaves and treated like dogs," was the exact lanjuage in whlch a Buchannan street aanker expressed the condition of the wage-workers of Glasgow n the course of a conversation with me only a day or two since. Subsefiueut investigaron proved the assertion not to be without foundation. The gentleman In (juestion is identified with the Glasgow Home Mlssion work, and bis statement was based upon his observations of the working classes as be has been made familiar with their condition tbroujih his etlbrts to provoke their interest in a religión calculnted to ligbten the bnrdcns which fall to their lot in life. True, hovvever, to the British instinct conceived inself-interest, this gentleman fervently expressed the hope that free trade relations with the United States might become an iiccotnplished tact. Ilis hope was also laid in orthodoxy froni u Hritisb point of view. He 8aid, as every American should know full as well aa every Britisher, that they would theu have a faninus market for ttieir manufactured product?, and tbclt llagging interests iu various lines would luive a needed nut let to provoke a néw era of proserity. He accused the pro tectionists of the United States of seltisliness in erecting barriera ngainst tliu goods the British staiul ready to export, but he ueclined to see the analogy of bis position in seeking to deprive American producers and American laborera of the American oiarket that the British manufacturer and operatives in the British fac tories might be benelited. Glasgow with its suburbs have a population of about 800,000. Possibly onehalf and certainly one third of that niiiiiber are directly or indirectly dependent upon the shipbuilding industry of the Clyde, while fully another third art maintained by otlier phases of the iron trade titan those which contnbutc to hiplmüiliiiL' and the sister imlusiry o marine engineering. The conditions wliicb have contribute( most towaru placin;; tüe uiyuesiue snip construction interest to the fore are found ia the proximity of coal hik! ron, and the inherent mechanica! skill of the Glasgowians. The foundation for the fume of Glasgow and the Olydc ns tlie shipbullding centre of the world must be credited to Henry Bell, wlio set the Cornet afloat in 1812. But before entering into a discussion of the facts pertaining to the industrial conditions of tlie men employed in the shipbuildiiiir andother related Industries it will be interesting to note a few taots connected with the growth and pn-sent proportions of such a ïuaiuinoth business as it now representa. The Cornet, which plied between Glasgow and Helensbnrgh, was forty feet in length and was propelled at the late of live miles per hour by an engine of three horse-power. This was indeed a small beginninj;, both in the size of the craft and the speed attained, but to the designer of the Coinet belongs the honor o first succeasfully applying steam as a ves sel motor. The next step was the adaptntlon of Bteam to deep sea tratlie, and a this point the development of marine en gineering began to be steadily in the line of incieased speed until the pertod w;i reficlied that furnished the Cumirder Britaunia, which made the trial trip from Liverpool to Bo-ton in fourteen days and ten hours, thus aflbrJinif a facilíty for hridging tlie ocean that was at that time regunled as remarknble. Since then tlie era of largar and taster steamers has arrivt'd. and such vessels as the Arizona, tlie Alaeka. and the ill-starred Oregon have shown what superior mechanica skill may render possible, by making the run across the Atlantic in less than half the time consumed by the Brittania. 'l'he end is not yet, for the City of New York, of the Inman line, which was launched from Clydebank Vards - and concludcd her trial trip to New York but a few days ago- togetber with her sister iteumer. the City of Paris, now on the stocks in course of construction, have been entered in stil 1 a more rapid class than any ot their predecessors. But stil more ambltious are the managers of the (i uion line, for whom the Fairrield Com pany - formeily Jolni Eider & Co. - are to builil a vcsscl that shall break al previous records. The keel lias been laid, aud the dimensions of the vessel when completed, will be öOO feet in lengtb -fourteen times the length of the Cornet - sixtythree feet in breadth of deck and fifty-two feet deep. The tonnage of this monster steamer will be 11,1)00 tons- 1,000 more than the city of New York. She will have twin screws operated by englnes of 16,000 horse-power. She wiil be mude to aecomuiodate 2,000 passengers and must be built to make the passage from Queenstowii to New York in fivc days. The model of this promised mar vel of speed is to be seen in ttie Glasgow Kxliiliit ion, nnd in the faultlessness o the lines whicli make for her success, u the mittcr of speed, Rhe is certainlj destined to meet the expectations of her builders. The proportions of the mammoth triple expansión oyKn Iers, whicl wil] constitute au essential feature of her entines, contrasted with the toy cylinder of the ancieot Cornet, as I saw it among the relies in the Bishop'a Palace colloc tion at the exhlbition, impressed me in the ful lest degree with the wonderfu strides which have been accomplislied in marine engine building in Glasgow the memory of men stil 1 living. The facts already cited, coupled with what is seen by a visitor to the department of inachinery at the exhlbition, or to any of the other departments in which evldences of mechanical skill are displayed iu an infinite variety, provoke but oiie conclusión. The Glasgow mechanica have no superiors in the world in the ingenuity and excellence of their work. The que.'tion is accordlngly pertinent: "Do they receive a return for their work comiuensurate with their genius and industry ?" Betore presenting a detailcd reply to the qncstion as relates t suipbuilders proper, I desire to devert for a moment to the tact which no one dispute?, namely, tbat the cheapness of irou, or more properly steel- the chief material used in shlp construction- has rendered possible the marvelous growth of the business on the Clyde, and in this connection it is proper to invite attention to the further fact that the cheapness of the Irou or steel is due to the starvation wages paid t those etigaged in the various stages of its production. By a trip tliriigh one of the largest ron and steel milis of Glasgow, wliich employs 2,000 hands, and omitting f rom the table the of the various dcpirtments, who receive considerable above the average wage, I fbund the fulluwiug scale of wages to prevail: Machinists engaged in work requiring the highest rade of niechanical iklll, #7.20 to ii).(iO per week, ten bourtfora day; other Hum tbc bosí in the heatiii}; departoient, $4 :J [er week; other than the bosí- in tlie rolling department, the Same waíje; hainmer men, ezceptlnj; bost, $4 80 per week; rivet makers, $4 Ü2 per week. wliieii u bont the kventga wajgep piil Ui laboren bout the mltl. Coming iiow lo the wiigrs pakl the men in varioua branches of the work at the süipyaids, tlie followlnjf Obtalned f rom a gentleman thorouglily familiar witli every depurtnient of one of the lü rest yards on Clyile. niay lie accepteil as reliuble añil fuirly representa tive of the wjiges n the seveial Iiues of ndustry indicated: Carpenters $0.24 to 7.2Ü per week; cnulkerg, $0.24 to 6.72 olnera $7.20 to $8.04; blaeksmiths sboat 0.72 and macblnlati front $0 24 to $0.8-2. lie figures quoted cover the wnges of 5 per cent. ot the men employed in the omplete construction of a ship, besldes whlcb, of course, there are loit men und iiperiutendentwliogetssoniewhat higher wajjes by róason of thotr advaneed poaiions. ... Nor Is it mcroly i" the h on milis and shipyartls tlmt lort' wngeM prevail, but the building trades, wlilcli are n a raeasure depeiulent for tbeir employment upon these principal industries, are IHcewlw underpaid to a distressinj; degrec, as I earned f rom men I lnterviewed at Uioir work. The lboref who dig.s for the foundation of 11 building recclveá the equivalent of eighty cents per dy for ten liours' work. The masnn works tune lours and receives from $1 OS to $1.30 per day, and hls helper earns about elghty cents, whlle the house joinerearns from $1.26 to $1.41 por day. Bad weather and slackness of work leave the maso dependent upon the proceeds of eight months in the year, whlle the joiner must bridge over at least two montlis of idleness. The wagcs are iniaerably IOW, but i statement of wages and nothing more would leave the story but half told, and those who entertain an optlmistic view of the forelgn labor sltuation would hasten to interject the observation that while the wages are small, the cost of living is proportionately low. Should that be Irue the American mechante would have no ground on which to build nis boast that he is better off than are his fellow-toilers on iliis side the water. "Our prayer is tor the free trade witli the United States," was tbc frank admission freely made to me up a Coatbridge iron manufacturar but a few daya since. The reason wns that with the cheaper labor of his milis he couid send bis product into the American market, and should his prayer begranted the employés of American milis would be compclled to submlt to a reductlon of their wages to a level with the wages now ptevailing uere. The change of economie policy that wnuld invite the competition of the Amercan laborer with that of Britain lends Interest to the queation: -'Will the wages of the mechanic in Scotland, where free trade prevalía in the commoditles he consumes, buy as many comforts as are enjoyed by the American mechanic?" The wages received and the cost of the necessitles of life f urnish the basis upon which $ the reader may build his own conclusión. The wages of the Glasgow mechanic, as are already cited, exhibits bis comfort-purchasing resources, and following are some of the prices be must pay: Biead 4 to 6c per loaf ; potatoes, 12 to 15c perstone of 14 pounds; flotir, 16 to 20c per stone; eggs, 12 to 20c per dozen; cheese, 9 to 16c per pound; saus:ige, 13c; bacon, 18 to 15c; butter, 16 to 24c; beef, roast, 20 to 22c per pound; boiling piece, 8 to 14c; steak, 16 to 20c; best steak, 32c; mutton, 10 to 20c; accordlng to the cut; chop?, 20 to 24c; coffee, 24 to 36c; tea, 28 to 48c, and sugar the cbeapest article in the list, 3 to 4c. The average mechanic Is rarely able to afford for living apartments more than two rooms - "a room and a kitchen" - and in these the family, however numerous, muit eat, sleep and exerciseall the phases of existence from the eradle to the grave, in sickness as well as in bealth. One room is devoted to the preparation of the meals, while the other must serve as dining-room, bed-room, sitting-room and parlor. The tenants may feel their cramped condition, but their slender lii - anees will warrant nothing more extensive in its accomodations. Tuere are thousands less fortúnate who have but a sitijilt; room, while it is a rare exception tbat a mechanic attains to the dignity of "two rooms and a kitchen." The "room and a kitchen" rental in a respectable quarter of the city is f rom $40 to $50 pe yeur, and the additional room adds abou $10 to the yearly expense. The mechanic wlid can uriki' ends meet and have an after-work snit - coat and vest of Ban nockburn tweed with cloth trousers, the whole costing frora $12 to $i;i- is nrnonj the fortúnate and is counted thrifty whili! the wife of the mechanic who ha a cloth dress in wliich she would let he neighbors see her go to the "kirk" on Sunday is the exception rather than th rule. I have refrained from exaggeratec ploturea of the conditlons as I have founi tliem, nor have I pninted the worst which niiglit be reganled as exceptional The conditions as they average are open tor contrast with the environments of the American mechanic, and in thatconnec tiün the opinio of ai intelligent Glas gow mechanic, one of the lew exception ally well-to-do may not be iinproperl, presented here. Speaklng of the condi tion of the majority of his fellows - th men with whoin American free traders would invite competition - he said: "They simply exist. It Is a strugglt, from beginning to end. The Glasgow mechanic is unable to obtaln the legiti mate fruit of his labor, and howeve provident he may be, he will not have enougb to maintain his family respect ably. He lias no cliance of iinproving his condition, and he cannot expect to rise above the common level. He be comes disheartened, and it should not be surprising tliat he seeks forgetfulness o visions ot plenty in the 'flowing bowl.' The Scotch man has hut one chance whore the American has ten for improvinc his con


Ann Arbor Courier
Old News