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220,000,000 in any year, the company contributes 6 per cent and the employees 1 per cent to the fund. It also agrees to establish a free medical and drug service to be managed by the workmen.
Workmen's Associations Engaged on Government Work.Workingmen's productive associations have reached a considerable development in France. They began largely as the result of socialist teachings. In 1818, however, they were recognized by the government, which at that time loaned $400,000 to the various societies, none of which was ever repaid. Later other subsidies were acquired from private sources. A more practical aid given such societies, however, was that of the government in 1867 and 1893 by legally facilitating the formation of coöperative societies. The unique feature of this system in France is that the state encourages such associations to undertake public con. tract work. In 1882 the municipal council of Paris passed a regulation making it easier for workingmen's associations to undertake public contract work and this example was followed later by the national government.
The means employed to aid the contracting associations are four. First, the contracts are split up into small size so that the workingmen can bid on them; secondly, the associations are not required to deposit any guarantee when the value of the contract is less than $10,000; thirdly, when bids are equal the workingmen's associations are given the preference; and, finally, payments are made by the government to the association every fifteen days. The effect of these regulations has been to increase the number of such organizations, the total number of which was 140 in 1895; 161 in 1896; 184 in 1897 and 220 in 1899. The value of public work done in this way amounted in 1895 to $914,800. In some branches of trade, particularly building, this represented almost one-half of the entire government contract work for the year. Moreover, for many years the government printing has been done by these associations. A considerable portion of the building work of the Exposition of 1900 also was given over to them and they constructed the Palace de l'Economie Sociale entire.
BELGIUM The beginning of effective agitation for better conditions for workmen on government contract work in Belgium dates from the creation of the Superior Council of Labor. The council is composed of 16 sociologists, 16 employers and 16 workmen, who hold office for four years. In 1893 one of the subjects on the calendar for discussion was the minimum rate of wages clause in public contracts. After five sessions spent in discussion of the proposition resolutions were adopted January 16, 1894, in substance as follows:
Each public contract should contain clauses binding the contractor to pay to workmen a specified minimum wage. The Superior Council of Labor recommends that state contracts be let at a figure such that contractors may be able to pay the wages current in the district. To accomplish this the state is urged to endeavor to promote agreements between employers and employees and to establish with the advice of the Superior Council of Labor a minimum rate based on information furnished by recognized trade associations and by the council of industry and labor. But the former body holds that the state should not intervene in the decision of wage rates, as this function belongs properly to the trade associations, and recommends the collection and use of wage statistics and investigation of conditions of public contract labor.
These resolutions were, however, of little effect, and were denounced as ambiguous. Following their passage the question was raised in the parliament and warmly commended by its friends. In June, 1896, a measure was formally introduced and after being championed by the Minister of Labor and the Minister of Public Works, it was passed. The substance of the law is as follows:
The contractor must agree to pay to journeymen, apprentices and laborers working as masons or pavers, wages at not less than the rate fixed in the contract, and for overtime at an advance of 25 per cent.'
The contractor must agree, by a memorandum containing his signature and annexed to his bid, to pay to journeymen, apprentices and laborers, working as masons or pavers, wages which shall not be less than the rate named in the said memorandum. Wages are to be paid at the rate of 25 per cent. more ihan that fixed in the said memorandum for work outside the usual hours, including also Sundays and legal holidays.
The schedule of wages is to be posted in the workplace by the contractor at his own expense.
The contractor shall give each workman that he engages a special memorandum bearing the signature of the contractor or of his representative, and containing the name of the workinan; his domicile or residence; the nature of the work with which he will be occupied; the category in which the workman is classified (journeyman, apprentice. or laborer); the rate of wages, taken from the memorandum; a column for the number of days or hours of work; a column for the dates of payment.
If it is proven that a workman has been paid at a rate less than that fixed in the memorandum, the contractor shall be compelled to pay immediately what remains due to the workman; this violation to be made the subject of a report as is signified in the regular form. The report will be followed, if necessary, by a warning in writing giving him notice to cease violations. If the warning of the administration, twice repeated, is not heeded, he shall be, according to the gravity of the offense, excluded temporarily or finally from the contracts of the state.
The clauses above shall apply in all specifications of contracts to be approved from the first of July, 1896, to the thirty-first of December, 1897. It being settled that the contracts for construction disposed in general for a period of three years, there are some which can be approved in December, 1897, and will remain from that time in force until December, 1900. This lengthens the real duration of the trial to four years and a half.
The contracts for other public works should contain as far as possible the foregoing clauses. In the case, however, of certain repairs and maintenance for which the contracts were already printed, the contractor was obliged to sign a card with the same clauses that appeared in the larger contracts.
In practice it was found that the introduction of these clauses in the contract made it impossible to reduce the rate of wages. But this condition in turn made it impossible to employ any but the ablest workmen. This difficulty, however, was met by creating a class of less competent workmen known as demi-ouvriers." They were paid at a lower rate than the regular skilled mechanic and their numbers were limited by the government.
It is worthy of note that the government did not attempt to fix a legal minimum rate of wages as was claimed would be done. The rate of wages is based so far as possible on agreements in force between employers and workmen in the various trades.
Amongst the provinces of Belgium the question of the minimum rate of wages on government work has been very generally taken up, all except Limbourg having passed a law relating to the subject. The Provincial Council of Limbourg decided to await the result of the government steps in this direction.
In Antwerp and West Flanders, the contractor is compelled to submit with his bid a list of the wage rates he intends to pay employees on the government work and the amount of these wages is taken into account in the award. The remainder of the provinces attach to the contract it memorandum of wages to be paid in the various trades. In order to insure the proper execuition of these stipulations, the provinces of Brabant, East and West Flanders and Hainaut oblige the contractors to make legular reports of the wages paid. In three of the provinces (Liige and East and West Flanders) the law applies not only to the provincial works but those communal works subsidized by the province.
Besides stipulations regarding rates of wages West Flanders and Liège fix a maximum length of the work-day and West Flanders provides for a day of rest each week.
No complaint has been made concerning the operation of any of these clauses and none of tie provinces save Brabant ind West Flanders have found that the law increased the cost of contract work and in the two provinces mentioned the increase was slight.
In the province of West Flanders the agitation in favor of a minimum rate of wages for workmen on government contracts was begun in 1892 by a workmen's society of Bruges, which petitioned the Provincial Council to consider the subject. In accordance with this request a law was introduced into the Provincial Council and passed in November of the same year. The law, however, applied only to the government printing contracts from January 1, 1893, to December 31, 1897.
This law provided for the payment of the wages stipulated in the contract; ten-hour day as a maximum; extra pay for overtime; holiday on Sunday; rates of wages to be posted in workshops; employment of “demi-ouvriers" and apprentices.
In 1895 the law was extended to cover all the works of the Province of West Flanders and also those communal works which were carried on by the provincial subsidy.
In order to fix the rate of wages the workmen's associations were requested to submit their demands, then the contractor was compelled to submit with his bid the wages he would pay to each trade. These two lists of wages were compared and those bids containing schedules of wages judged to be too low were rejected. In case of two bids of the same amount, the one pay. ing the higher rate to the workman was accepted.
To insure the payment of the stipulated wages, the schedule was posted in the workshop and the workman compelled to sign a receipt for his wages, which was filed with the government. Some complaints of abuses were made, but were met by a stricter surveillance.
The law also provided for the employment of men over 50 years of age and those of inferior ability or productive force at a reduced rate of wages. Their admittance to this class was to be passed on by the engineer in charge.
No complaint by either the employers or the workmen was made concerning the operation of the law. It was found that the cost of the work to the government was slightly increased, but, it was claimed, the consequent employment of a better class of workmen more than offset the slight difference.
On February 15, 1895, a law was passed compelling the contractor to insure his workmen against accident in the dangerous trades. By the terms of the law the contractor is required to file a contract with a responsible insurance company insuring his workmen against accident while performing their work. The minimum indemnity is (a) for temporary incapacity, one-half of the daily wage for each day of enforced idleness; (b) for permanent injury, a sum equal to 500 times the daily wage; death, a sum equal to 500 times the daily wage, to be paid to the estate of deceased. The amount due in case of death is to be
paid first to the government, which shall dispose of it in the manner deemed best for the welfare of the beneficees.
In East Flanders the Provincial Council in 1893 passed a law calling for a minimum rate of wages on government contracts. The government fixed the rate of wages per hour and the law was enforced by government inspection. At first the application extended only to paving contracts, but in October, 1894, it was • reported by the Chief Engineer to have worked favorably, causing no extra cost to the Province and raising the rate of wages 10 per cent. in some trades. The following year, therefore, its operation was extended to all the provincial contracts and those public works subsidized by the province.
Under the new law the bidder was required to submit with his bid a schedule of salaries that he intended to pay and the number of " demi-ouvriers” that he intended to employ. Then the government made the award, taking into consideration the labor conditions that would result as well as the cost of the contract.
A clause similar to the one in operation in West Flanders was also inserted calling for the insurance against accident of all workmen.
In the Province of Liège the Provincial Council passed a law in December, 1894, calling for the insertion in government contracts of clauses concerning minimum rate of wages and maximum hours of labor. A beginning was made with printing establishments, a minimum rate of so cents a day being established at the request of the typographical union. Soon the law was extended to cover all the public work of the Province. Clauses governing the length of the work-day, Sunday holiday, compulsory insurance, and employment of " demi-ouvriers” were also adopted.
In the communes or municipalities of Belgium the protection of workmen on government contracts has progressed considerably. Of the 87 communes in 1896 having a population of more than 8,000, 51 representing a population of two million have passed laws on the subject and 36 representing a population of half a million have not. Twenty-five of these communes oblige contractors to furnish a list of the wages paid to employees at stated intervals and seventeen laws provide for posting the law in the workshop. The mode of procedure in fixing the salaries is for the Council of the Commune to annually fix the minimum wage for each trade. For information as to the prevailing rates of wages and hours of labor the Council consults associations of employers and workmen.' The minimum wage cannot be less than 80 cents a day nor the hours of labor exceed 10. For workmen employed directly by the commune the minimum hours of labor are eight per day.