On Combinations Amongst Masters or Workmen against Each Other
Too Long; Didn't Read353. There exist amongst the workmen of almost all classes, certain rules or laws which govern their actions towards each other, and towards their employers. But, besides these general principles, there are frequently others peculiar to each factory, which have derived their origin, in many instances, from the mutual convenience of the parties engaged in them. Such rules are little known except to those actually pursuing the several trades; and, as it is of importance that their advantages and disadvantages should be canvassed, we shall offer a few remarks upon some of them.
354. The principles by which such laws should be tried are,
First. That they conduce to the general benefit of all the persons employed.
Secondly. That they prevent fraud.
Thirdly. That they interfere as little as possible with the free agency of each individual.
355. It is usual in many workshops, that, on the first entrance of a new journeyman, he shall pay a small fine to the rest of the men. It is clearly unjust to insist upon this payment; and when it is spent in drinking, which is, unfortunately, too often the case, it is injurious. The reason assigned for the demand is, that the newcomer will require some instruction in the habits of the shop, and in the places of the different tools, and will thus waste the time of some of his companions until he is instructed. If this fine were added to a fund, managed by the workmen themselves, and either divided at given periods, or reserved for their relief in sickness, it would be less objectionable, since its tendency would be to check the too frequent change of men from one shop to another. But it ought, at all events, not to be compulsory, and the advantages to be derived from the fund to which the workman is invited to subscribe, ought to be his sole inducement to contribute.