Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

and other forms of "sweating” by insisting that contractors shall conform to established usages of the trade as embodied in joint trade agreements between organizations of employers and unions of employees. Two American states (Montana and Nevada) require by law that the union label shall appear on all public printing as an evidence that the conditions of employment conform to those sanctioned by the printing trade, while in monarchical Germany important government departments let their printing contracts only to such establishments as adhere to the trade agreement between the employing and the journeymen printers' organizations. Without distinct recognition in the law, this requirement is practically observed by the public authorities throughout a large part of the United States where trade unionism is strong enough to establish standard rates of wages, hours of labor, etc.

But trade unions exist only in the more skilled trades, and presuppose good wages and a large degree of intelligence and foresight on the part of the workmen. They do not solve the difficulty of preventing “sweating” in the unskilled trades, in. duced by the attempt to recoup profits out of wages. So great is this difficulty that proposals have been seriously debated in nearly every country to do away with the contract system entirely. Where workmen are employed directly by public authorities their wages and conditions of work are invariably superior. * Many states have stopped the worst forms of sweating by prohibiting the sub-letting of contracts, but only one state (Califor nia) has gone so far as to substitute direct employment for con. tract work on public buildings. Little has been done in the United States to remove the evils of the contract system by encouraging workmen themselves to bid for work. In foreign countries, particularly France, Italy and New Zealand, a great deal of the public work is done by workmen's associations, which have been fostered by laws requiring public contracts to be split up into small amounts, providing for fortnightly payments, etc. In France much of the government printing has long been done by these co-operative associations of workingmen.

Another field in which 'little has as yet been attempted in this country is the regulation of labor conditions on works of a quasipublic character, like street railways, etc., which operate under public franchises. In Paris the franchise of the Metropolitan railway prescribes liberal treatment of employees in the case of accident, etc., but a proposal to insert labor stipulations in the

*Cf. Rates of wages paid under public and private contract, U.S. Labor Bulletin No. 7 (1896); Rates of pay to labor employed by cities in Massachusetts, Mass. Labor Bulletin, May, 1894.

See the British Labor Department's Report on contracts given out hy public authorities to associations of workmen" (1896).

franchise for the railway tunnels begun in New York city in 1902 was opposed and defeated. In a few cases arbitration clauses have been inserted in franchises out of deference to local sentiment; but no statute has been found requiring such stipulation in grants or concessions.

ii

CILAPTER II.

FRANCE AND BELGIC JI.

The history of legislation concerning public works contracts in France is divided into two parts. The city of Paris took the initiative in this matter, and until the latter part of the decade 1890-1900 the work of the Municipal Council was more important than that of the national government. In 1838 the minister of public works with the prefect of the Seine, adopted a scale of prices to be paid to workmen on public contracts. This scale, known as the Séries Morel," was the basis of fixing wages on public works until the decrees of 1899 went into effect. In 1880 a committee of revision met and heard evidence on the case from the workingmen. Changes proposed by them met with considerable opposition from the contractors, who in 1882 withdrew from further conference. In spite of their opposition, however, the

, scale of prices was still maintained.

In 1883 M. Sauton, a municipal councillor, proposed a new clause in the law. His proposition was that a minimum wage for workmen and the obligation to employ nine-tenths native workers on all public works be embodied in the contracts. After considerable discussion the municipal council adopted, five year's later, a resolution embodying the ideas of M. Sauton and further reducing the length of the work-day to nine hour's. Appeal was taken by the contractors; and in 1890 the council of state, the liighest administrative court, annulled the contracts granted under this resolution on the ground that they contravened the constitutional right of free contract. The municipal council immediately reaffirmed its former vote, and the council of state again disapproved the resolution and the following year refused to change the decision.

The efforts of the municipal council to improve the conditions of government contract labor having failed, the matter was taken to the Chamber of Deputies and in 1894 M. Edou:urd Vaillant presented the following propositions:

The city of Paris is authorized to incorporate in all public contracts such regulations as may be useful to their proper execution. Amongst such rules are comprised first, an inspection of factories and municipal workshops. Secondly, the clauses of article 1 of the resolution of the second of May, 1888, of the municipal council of Paris, against sub-contractors, jobbers and task masters; intermediate agents in the employment of municipal workmen; all work over nine hours a day or more than six in any one week: payment of less than the minimum schedule rate in hour, day, piece or overtime work. The latter shall be paid for day work at an advance of 25 per cent. and night work at double rates. Not more than ten per cent of aliens may be employed on any public contract and in the army and postal service only citizens may be employed. Violations of these clauses are punished by a fine of $2 for each offense but the contract is not canceled. Finally, all communes and other minor civil divisions shall establish conditions in public contracts favorable to labor.*.

Besides this proposition a number of others were presented along the same line. The Superior ('ouncil of Labor also took part by carrying through an investigation and urging the passage of some measure which should oblige contractors to pay the current rate of wages and maintain the customary length of work-day in the city or district in which the work was executed. Finally in 1899, M. Millerand, one of the foremost champions of social reform, came into power as Minister of Commerce in the Waldeck-Rousseau cabinet, and, on the tenth of August of that year, three decrees, covering all contract work of the State departments, communes and public charities, were promulgated. The law governing contracts of the national government requires that the terms of contracts for public works and supplies shall contain clauses binding the contractor to grant to employees on public contracts one day of rest in seven; to employ alien labor only in a proportion fixed by the administration, according to the nature of the work and the district in which it is executed; to pay wages equal to the current rate of wages for the particular trade, in the district in which the work is performed; to limit the length of the work-day to the length in vogue in each trade, in the said city or district.

In case of necessity permission may be granted for Sunday or overtime work which shall be paid for at a specified increase. The insertion of the above clause shall be optional in the case provided for in article 18, paragraphs 3 and 5 of the decree of the 18th of November, 1882.

The contractor may sublet part of his contract only by obtaining permission of the administration and under condition that he remain responsible for the execution of the foregoing clauses. Task work such as resulted from the decree of March 2, 1818, and the order of March 21, 1818, is prohibited.

The establishment or the verification of the normal and current rate of wages and the normal and current length of the work-day shall be made through inquiries on the part of the administration, which shall refer to trade agreements in existence in the locality, or in the absence of such agreements shall seek the advice of committees of employers and workmen to

*Office du Travail, Note sur le Minimum de Salaire dans les Travaux Publies, Paris, 1897, p. 122.

gether with testimony of workmen's associations, expert boards, engineers, architects and other competent persons. The schedule so obtained shall be, wherever possible, appended to all contracts and posted in workshops or factories where contracts are executed. On demand of employers or employees this schedule may be revised if a general change in wages or hours of labor has occurred in the locality. The contractor also may demand a revision of the contract prices he is to receive if the change in hours or wages exceeds the limits specified in the contract.

When the contractor is compelled to employ workingmen whose physical aptitudes place them in a condition notoriously inferior to that of workingmen of the same class, the contractor may pay them a lower salary than the normal. The maximum proportion of these workers corresponding to the total workers of the same class and the maximum reduction allowable in their wages shall be fixed in the contract. If a rate is established below the current rate of wages the workmen injured thereby shall be indemnified by levying upon the amounts due the contractor or upon his bond.

In cases of continued violations of the above provisions, the Ministers may exclude the violating contractors from the contracts of their departments for a definite period.*

The other laws are practically the same as the above, except that in the case of the limitation of the length of work-day and the guarantee of the current rate of wages the clauses are obligatory for the State and optional for the municipalities and sub-divisions.

The law of March 30, 1898, authorizing the construction of the Metropolitan Railway of the city of Paris, contains numerous provisions for the benefit of laborers. It is, indeed, probably the most advanced of any measures yet enacted by a municipality. By the terms of the law employees are granted one full day or two half-days of rest in each seven and an annual vacation with pay of ten days. During sickness workmen recieve full wages for a year, and in case of accident while at work wages are to be paid until complete recovery. The company, moreover, must insure all of its employees against accident, the indemnity for which must be paid in addition to the full wages. The leasing company agrees, further, to furnish its employees with deposit books of the National Pension Fund. The payments are to be made by means of a two per cent deduction from the wages of employees and a four per cent contribution by the company. In case the number of passengers exceeds

*Bulletin de L'Office du Travail, Tome VI, pp. 736–738.

« AnteriorContinuar »