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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Wages (Addition)

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This article from the 1922 extension to the 1911 encyclopedia is an update of the information in the article Wages.

WAGES . - In the following article, which should be read in connexion with those on Cost Of Living and Prices, the changes in wages during 1909-20 are considered. United Kingdom. - In the movement of wages in recent years it is specially important to distinguish between rates of wages and earnings. Rates of wages are time-rates, sums payable for work in a definite time (hour, week consisting of a recognized number of hours and, rarely, a longer period) or piecerates (sums payable for the performance of a definite task, or as additions to or in combination with time-rates, when the rate depends both on the quantity produced and the time taken in producing it). Earnings are the sums actually received by an employee, generally computed for a week or a year; the term is used specifically when the amount received on piece-rates is in question, and is also used to include payments for overtime in the case of time-workers. Time-rates are generally stated for the normal week or if the rate is an hourly one, as in the building trades, both for the hour and for the normal week; to get a comparable statement for piece-rates it is necessary to compute the average earnings of a number of men who worked normal hours. In modern times a statement of time-rates generally relates to rates agreed to by associations of employers and employees or umpired by the Government; these are frequently minimum rates and the relation between minimum rates and the average of those actually paid to a group of work-people can only be ascertained by special inquiries, such as those undertaken by the Board of Trade in 1886 and 1906. The assumption has to be made that between such inquiries average rates have kept the same proportion to minimum rates, which is only true over a short period and in the absence of disturbing causes. For piece payments the assumption that earnings move by the same percentage as the rates can never yield more than an approximation to the facts, and during the war such an assumption would be completely invalid even if reference was only made to earnings in a normal week, since there were very important changes in facilities for production, in the effort put into the work and in the nature of the work. In the absence of any general information about earnings, statistics in the war period must be confined to statements of time and piece-rates, which do not give a true picture of the economic position of the working class in that time; in 1920, however, industry was more nearly normal and overtime was relatively uncommon, so that a comparison of rates in 1920 and 1914 is not altogether misleading. In making such a comparison the general reduction of hours in 1918 and 1919 must be borne in mind; generally at the dates of reduction piece-rates and hourly rates were raised so as to give approximately the same earnings for the reduced as for the longer week, and weekly rates were the same before and after the reduction, but in some industries an increase for the week was arranged at the same time.

Table i shows the general movement from 1890 to 1914. The first column, computed from the XVII. Abstract of Labour Statistics, gives the average of a number of changes of time and of piece-rates. The second and third columns depend on additional data (see Bowley, Elementary Manual of Statistics, 1920, and Wood, Statistical Journal, 1909, p. 103, and 1912-3, p. 220), and give the computed averages based on the numbers in various occupations at the different dates, thus allowing for the relative increase of numbers in the better-paid industries. These figures should be taken in conjunction with the change in retail prices ( see Cost Of Living); the rise in wages from 1902 to 1913 was neutralized by the falling value of money.

Average annual earnings, allowing for unemployment and overtime, for all wage-earners in the United Kingdom (excluding shop assistants), men, women, boys and girls, are estimated at £51 in 1913 (Change in Distribution of National Income, Bowley, 1920, p. 13); average family earnings were probably between f95 and £ioo annually. For full week's work the average earnings of a man were about 3 Is., for a woman 14s., for a boy Its. 6d., and for a girl 8 shillings. There were very few changes between 1913 and the outbreak of the war.

Table z. - Estimates of money earnings of all wages earners in the United Kingdom (expressed as percentages of their level in 1913).

Not allowing for

changes in rela-

tive numbers

Labour

Abstract

Allowing for changes in rela-

tive numbers

Bowley

Wood

1890

.

.

86

83

83

I

.

87

84

83

2

.

86

84

83

3

86

84

83

4

85

84

83

5

84

84

83

6

.

85

84

83

7

86

85

85

8

.

.

89

88

85

9

91

90

88

1900

95

95

91

I

94

94

91

2

93

92

90

3

92

91

90

4

92

90

90

5

92

90

89

6

94

92

93

7

97

97

97

8

.

96

95

95

9

95

94

94

1910

.

95

95

95

I

.

95

96

2

.

98

99

..

3

100

100

.

The dates and amounts of increase of rates of wages in the period 1914-20 may be illustrated by the records in a number of selected industries. The summary in Table 2 is taken from Bowley's Prices and Wages in the United Kingdom, 1914-1920(1921), pp. 105-6.

Table 2. - Estimate of movements of time-rates (for normal week) and of piece-rates in the United Kingdom, 1914-20. (Average rates expressed as percentages of those in 1914).

r914

July

1915

July

1916

July

1917

July

1918

July

1919

July

1920

July

Bricklayers .

Ioo

103

108

123

160

188

228

Bricklayers' labourers

100

103

113

1J3

180

225.

284

Printers (compositors)

100

100

105

120

157

196

246

Railwaymen. .

100

I10

120

1 55

1 95

225

280

Dock labourers .

too

101

130

150

193

209

266

Cotton operatives .

100

105

II()

II()

157

202

205

Woollen and worsted

operatives .

100

115

126

144

164

196

239

Engineering artisans

100

110

III

1 34

1 73

1 99

231

Engineering labourers '

100

..

..

1 54

21 3

2 55

309

Shipbuilding:

Platers' time-rates

too

..

..

130

169

193

223

Coal-mining. .

Ioo

113

129

136

187

224

260

Aug.

May

254

Agriculture:

Aug.

England and Wales

100

112

..

..

189

226

277

General rough aver-

age of percentages

100

105

115

135

115

210

255

t0

t0

t0

t20

260

The increases in the first two years of the war often took the form of a weekly war-bonus of the same amount for artisans and labourers (in some cases greater for the latter) to meet the rise of food prices (see Cost Of Living and Prices). In 1917 the usual method of changing miners' wages by percentage was replaced also by flat increases of 2S. or 3s. a shift to all underground workers, and no percentage increase was given till March 1920. In engineering and other trades in which munition work formed an important part an addition of 121% to time-workers and 71% to piece-workers reckoned on weekly earnings was awarded in 1917-8, but all time-rates (artisans and labourers) in engineering had been raised 7s. weekly before this award, and after it subsequent increases were a flat weekly rate for time-workers and pieceworkers alike. Before the war certain proportions had been established, by the working of economic forces modified by collective bargaining, between the earnings (whether time or piece) in various occupations and industries; the effect of these uniform increments was to modify these proportions very considerably. Some of the results are evident from Table 2 (p. 939) and can be studied also in the subsequent tables. In the six years building and engineering and dock labourers' wages had increased by a markedly greater percentage than those of building or engineering artisans or of compositors. In 1914 the bricklayer's labourer's wage was two-thirds of the bricklayer's, in 1920 it was nearly nine-tenths. To some extent the result was due to a definite effort to raise the standard of living of the lowest-paid workers; the minimum rates fixed by the Trade Boards were in 1920 generally three times those in 1914; agricultural wages in Dorset were raised from about 14s. to 46s. but in Yorks from about 21s. to only 49s. No such tendency, however, is observable in the cotton industry, where the old method of percentage changes has been maintained; in the woollen industries percentage changes are still the rule, but increments are not given on the amount by which any pre-war earnings exceeded 30 shillings. In the reductions made in the early part of 1921 there was an expressed desire on the part of the workers that decreases should be uniform for all grades; reductions on this basis tend to restore the pre-war proportions.

Most wage arrangements from 1917 to 1921 were dominated by the increase and subsequent decrease in the cost of living. The woollen industry was the first to arrange changes by a definite formula relating them to the official index number of that cost (Sept. 1919). The railway agreement of Jan. 1920 included a similar formula, and some other industries have followed the same plan. Generally the increase on wages is somewhat less by the formulae than if the percentage changes of the index number were applied to the whole of standard wages, e.g. the railwayman gets only is. when the index number rises 5% of its 1914 level, which would only be sufficient if his standard wage was 25s. or under, if the official index truly measured the cost of living; a fall in prices is therefore to the advantage of persons whose wages are thus determined.

Besides the movement already described there has been a tendency to remove local and occupational differences in wages by levelling up lower rates to higher. As a result of the Transport Workers' Inquiry (1920) the rates in all ports were raised to 8s. for the four hours half-day, whatever the previous amounts, and some differential payments for special work were abolished. In successive awards of minimum wages in agriculture the county minima show less deviation. In 1917 the increases since 1914 in all engineering wages were levelled up to 7s. whatever the previous advances, but this award and subsequent national flat increases do not include all increases; nominally the rates in Jan. 1920 were pre-war time-rates + 7s. to make permanent timerates, + 26s. 6d. war wage, 122% on earnings. Actually the average of 120 districts for ironfounders shows an increase of 8s. 8d. in permanent time-rates and that of 189 districts for turners an increase of 9s. 2d.; these increases in the averages arise from the fact that in the districts where wages were much below the average in 1914 the increases were 12s. or more, and throughout the list it is seen that the lower the wage the greater the increase. .[n the printing trade before the war wage changes were made by kcal bargaining, but in May 1919 the districts in England and Wales were arranged in six groups and the London district, and the standard rates were fixed at 77s. 6d. (minimum time-rate, compositors, jobbing) in London, 75s. in Liverpool and Manchester, and 3s. less in successive groups till in the lowest it was 60 shillings. Subsequent wage changes have been flat national increases, amounting by June 1920 to 17s. 6d. Prior to the grading there was considerable variation within each group. In other industries, also, there has been a tendency to standardize wages in groups. of localities and to make changes nationally. The movement is partly connected with a desire to establish a national minimum and to raise the wage of the worst paid, and partly to avoid competition from low-paid districts and a consequent cutting of rates. It is doubtful how far the pre-war rates were differentiated by economic causes, the local demand for the products of the industry, the possibility of family earnings because of the presence of other trades, the relative cost of food and rent, and how far by accident and custom. It is certain that where real wages were specially high the most skilled workmen were to be found. The partial removal of these differences must have wide-reaching effects on local distribution of industry, whatever their cause. Also the change in the proportion of wages of different grades, discussed in the previous paragraphs, must tend to diminish the supply of skilled labour.

The rates expressed by the percentages in the preceding tables are all for the normal week. After the Armistice English workmen were at first more anxious to secure better conditions of work than higher wages, especially as it was not then anticipated that prices would rise further. In 1918 and 1919 an 8-hour day was generally adopted. More correctly this should be described as a 48-hour week in many industries; e.g. in textile factories 48 hours are distributed between Monday to Friday and Saturday morning, whereas in building and dock labour overtime is payable after eight hours on any day and there is a Saturday half-holiday; the normal week is 44 hours. In mines, hours per shift were reduced from eight to seven, and, if 11 shifts are worked in a fortnight, weekly hours from 44 to 382. In many industries work is done in two spells instead of three in a day, work before breakfast being abolished; this tends to diminish lost time, but in other cases the time lost in starting and stopping is taken out of a shorter day and is relatively more important. There are no sufficient figures to show what has been the net effect on output, but if output per hour of nominal work has neither increased nor diminished, and there are no compensating factors, wage-cost per unit output rose in the six years 1914 to 1920 not in the rates 100 to 255 or 260 as in Table 2, but loo to 280 or 290, since weekly hours have diminished more than 10%.

In the following paragraphs details of wage changes are shown for a number of industries, in illustration of the general movements now outlined.

Time-rates.-In Table 3 illustrative figures are given. London builders' summer hours were reduced from 50 to 44 weekly between July 1919 and July 1920. Leeds and Birmingham turners' hours were reduced from 53 to 47 and Manchester printers' from 50 to 48 between July 1918 and July 1920. London dockers' daily hours were reduced from io to 8 between July 1918 and July 1919. No other changes of hours took place in the period. Turners' rates are typical of artisans in the engineering trades.

Table 3.- Illustrative standard time-rates of wages.

London

Leeds Birming-

ham

Manches-

ter

Port of

London

Brick-

Printer

Brick- layer's

layer labourer

Turner

(composi-

tor)

Docker

Weekly

Daily

July

Hourly rates

Weekly rates

rates

rates

1909

'old. 7d.

34s. 37s.

36s. 6d.

5s.

1914

112d. 8d.

37s. 38s.

38s. 6d.

5s. 1 od.

1915

112d. 8d.

40s. 40S.

38s. 6d.

6s. 4d.

1916

122d. 9d.

41s. 43s.

40s. 6d.

6s. iod.

1917

132d. iod.

49s. 51s.

50s.

7s. 1 od.

1918

15-1(1.1 I I Zd. 1

57S.' 59s.1

70s.

1 os. 6d.

1919

21d. 17d.

65s. 6d. 1 67s. 6d.'

75s.

HS. 8d.

1920

28d. 25d.

76s. 6d. 1 78s. 6d. 1

92s. 6d.

16s.

1 In these cases 122% was added to the weekly earnings, whether they were as here stated for normal hours or increased by overtime. Thus the bricklayer's effective rate in July 1918 was 18.9d. per hour.

Building.-The general movement of builders' wages in the United Kingdom is shown in Table 4 (Nvii. Abstract of Labour Statistics, Cd. 7733, p. 66; Labour Gazette, May 1919, p. 172, April 1920, p. 170, and Feb. 1921, p. 62). The increase from 1909 to the end of 1913 was 4.4%. The lesser percentage for weekly than for hourly rates, shown in Table 4, is due to the reduction Table 4.-Average of rates in a large number of towns.

Bricklayers

Painters

Builders' Labourers

Hourly

Weekly

Hourly

Weekly

Hourly

Weekly

Per-

Per-

Per-

Per-

Per-

Per-

Amount

cent-

Amount

cent-

Amount

cent-

Amount

cent-

Amount

cent-

Amount

cent-

age

age

age

age

age

age

1914 Aug. 4. ... .

9.9d.

Ioo

40s. 7d.

Ioo

8.8d.

Ioo

36s. 3d.

Ioo

6.5d.

Ioo

26S.IId.

100

1919 April 30

18.6d.

188

..

..

17.9d.

203

..

.. '

14.9d.

229

1920 Feb. 29.. .. .

22

od.

223

83s. 7d.

206

21.5d.

244

81s. 5d!

224

18.5d.

284

70S. 3d.

261

1920 Dec. 31.. .. .

27.5d.

278

ioos.iod.

248

27-id.

308

99s. 3d.

274

23.8d.

365

87s. 3d

324

of hours. It will be seen that nearly the same number of pence per hour was added in each occupation; and consequently the percentage increase is the greater the lower the initial wage.

Engineering.-Similar figures are given in Table 5 for engineers. The increase from 1909 to the end of 1913 was 3.6%. During 1915 increases of 3s. or 4s. were given to the majority of artisans and labourers in the engineering trades on time-rates, and 71% or io% on piece-rates and in 1916 a similar increase on time but not on piece. In April 1917 permanent time-rates 7s. (in some cases 8s.) and piece-rates only ro'/ above the pre-war level were arranged for both artisans and labourers, merging the former increments. War bonuses were subsequently granted as follows: April 1917 5s., Aug. 1917 3S., Jan. 1918 5s., Aug. 1918 3s.6d., Dec. 1918 as., Dec. 1919 5s., March 1920 and May 1920 each 3s. and 71% on piece-rates.

Table 5.-Average of weekly time-rates (including bonuses) in a large number of towns.

Turners

Moulders

Labourers

Per-

Per-

Per-

Amount

cent-

age

Amount

cent-

age

Amount

cent-

age

1914 Aug. 4 .

38S. IId.

Ioo

41s. 8d.

100

22S. iod.

100

1919 April 30 .

76s. iod.

197

79s. iod.

192

58s. 3(1.

255

1920 Feb. 29 .

82s. 5d.

212

85s. 6d.

206

63s. I id.

280

1920 Dec. 31 .

89s. 2(1.

229

92s. 3d.

221

70s. 4d.

304

In addition to these increases, aggregating 39s. 6d. for -timeworkers and 25% for piece-workers, an addition of 12 2% on weekly earnings was granted to skilled munition time-workers in Oct. 1917, and a similar 71% to piece-workers in Jan. 1918. This new increase was extended during the early part of 1918 to unskilled munition workers, to all engineers, to builders first on munition work and then to all, to iron and steel manufacturers, and to a number of allied trades.

By June 1920 a turner's wage for a normal week of 34s. in 1914, had increased to at least 73s. 6d.-{-121% = 82s. 81d. A labourer's wage had increased from 22S. to 69s. 21d.

Hours in engineering were generally reduced in Jan. 1919 from 53 or 54 to a uniform 48 weekly.

The increases awarded to piece-workers were less than those to time-workers because the former were during the war able to work with greater facility and to make a great amount of overtime. The earnings of time-workers were also greater during the war; that is indicated by the above rates for normal hours.

Railways.-Earnings of all workmen employed by railways averaged 25S. 42d. in a selected week in Dec. 1909, and 25s. rod., 26s. 82d., 27s. 42d., 27s. IId. in successive Decembers; the increase from 1909 to 1913 is ro% (XVII. Abstract of Labour Statistics, p. 66). The average for a normal week, however, when overtime earnings are omitted, and men employed in railway workshops are excluded, is estimated at only 26s. 6d. at the end of 1913.

A flat increase was given to all grades in Feb. 1915 of 3s. to men earning less than 30s., 2s. to those earning more. In Oct. 1915 this was raised to 5s. for all, in Sept. 1916 to Ios., in April 1917 to r5s., in Nov. 1917 to 21S., in April 1918 to 25s., and in Nov. 1918 to 33s.; at the last-named date the average wage for the normal week was about J9s. 6d.

In Aug. 1919 for drivers and firemen, and in Jan. 1920 for other grades, new standard rates were established at about 38s. above the pre-war level, and at the same time wages of the worsepaid grades and districts were levelled up. In Jan. 1920 a sliding scale of wages was introduced by which all wages were to rise or fall is. weekly for every five points that the cost-of-living index number rose or fell above its level in Dec. 1919 (125% above the pre-war level), but wages were not to fall below certain levels well above those of 1914. In addition to these changes a general increase was granted in June 1920 varying from 2S. to 7s. 6d. or. 8s. 6d. and perhaps averaging 4s. 6d. Under the cost-of-living scale wages were raised 3s. in April, 2S. in July, 2S. in Oct. 1920 and is. in Jan. 1921 and reduced 4s. in April 1921.

In 1919 the week was reduced to 48 hours, beyond which overtime rates were payable (see Labour Gazette, Oct. 1919, p. 416, and June 1920, p. 290).

Agriculture.-In England and Wales the average cash weekly wages of ordinary agricultural labourers were estimated in 1907 at 14s. 9d., earnings (including piece payments, etc.) at 16s. 8d., and allowances in kind (including low rent) at rod., making 17s. 6d. in all (Cd. 5460). Cash wages rose about 31% by the end of 1913 according to one estimate (XVII. Abstract of Labour Statistics, p. 66) which gives 15s. 3d., but are computed at r5s. rod. (with allowances at is.) in the estimates quoted in the Report of the Committee to Inquire into the Cost of Living of Rural Workers (Cmd. 76, p. 23, 57 seq.); in this report estimates are also given for 1918. By April 1915 average cash wages had risen to 17s. rod. and by Aug. 1917 to 22s. 3d. ( Labour Gazette June 1915, p. 200 and July 1917, p. 239). In Aug. 1917 a minimum rate of 25s. (to include the estimated value of allowance) was established by Parliament; in the summer of 1918 minimum rates were established for each county ranging from 30s. to 36s.; in May 1919 the range became 36s. 6d. to 42s.; in May 1920 a further increase was given, especially large in the lower-paid counties, making the range 42s. to 48s., and in Aug. 1920 they were further raised by 4s. (in two counties 4s. 6d.), making the range 46s. to 52s.: the lower rate applied to 35 out of 52 counties, and 52s. was paid in Cheshire alone, where the recognized hours were 54. In the fixing of minimum wages the hours of work corresponding to them are defined and overtime rates are payable for additional hours; in June 1919 the summer week was 54 and the winter 48 hours, and in Oct. 1919 summer hours were reduced to 48.

Piece-Rates-Cotton.-In the cotton trade no alteration was made in the method of arranging wage changes during the war. The wages of the great majority of operatives are paid by piecerates, which are fixed in relation to standard lists, and changes are made by adding a general percentage to all rates depending on the standard. In recent years local differences have been merged and piece-rates in Lancs. and Cheshire move -in accordance with percentage changes either in the preparing and spinning Bolton or Oldham lists or with the Blackburn and uniform weaving lists. Table 6 shows the changes from 1909 to 1921. Changes took place only at the dates shown till after April 192x. In July 1919 the weekly hours were reduced from 552 to 48, and piecerates were raised in the ratio 215:245 (= 4 8: 54.7) to compensate. If the hourly output had been exactly maintained, the increase above the standard would have been 1722% in May 1920.

Earnings, however, depend not only on piece-rates but also on the number of hours and efficiency of work, and are affected by modifications of machinery and in management. The Labour Gazette gives monthly statistics of earnings from which it can be judged that (after an acute depression at the beginning of the war) they rose more rapidly than piece-rates in 1916 and 1917. Subsequent movements are indicated by Table 7 (Bowley, p. 179).1 1 These are the earnings of all persons employed by certain firms and are affected to some extent by changes during the war.


Earnings increased as rapidly as rates in 1919 and the first half of 1920, after which there was a depression in trade.

Preparing &

Spinning. Weaving.

1909. .. .. .. .

105 100

1912

.. 105

1915 June. .. ... .

IIo 105

1 91... 6 Jan.. .. ... .

II() I 10

June. .. ... .

115 110

1917 Jan.. .. ... .

115 115

Feb.. .. .. .. .

125 115

July. .. ... .

125 125

Dec... .. .. .

140

1918 June. .. ... .

165

Dec.. .. ... .

215

1919 July. .. ... .

245

1920 May. .. ... .

315

Table 7. - Piece-rates.

Piece-

Earn-

rates

ings

1914.. .. ... .

100

100

1918 Jan... .. ... .

133

142

June. .. ... .

157

143

Aug.. .. ... ' .

157

156

1919 Jan... .. ... .

205

215

June. .. ... .

205

211

Jul

233

220

Aug.. .. ... .

233

228

1920 April. .. ... .

233

239

May. .. ... .

300

310

June. .. ... .

300

302

Table 6. - Piece-rates of cotton operatives. (Percentages of recognized standards.) Wool and Worsted. - In these industries the organization of wages and their changes is less standardized than in the cotton industry, and a much larger proportion of operatives are paid by time. Between 1909 and 1914 we have to depend on employers' statements to the Board of Trade ( Labour Gazette, monthly) of average earnings, and from these it appears that earnings increased in the ratio 93 to Ioo in these five years, whether owing to changes of rates or to better trade.

During the war earnings advanced very rapidly owing to the great demand for woollen goods, and the following figures relate to time-rates for the normal week or to piece-rates.

The most complete statement for the first three years of the war relates to the Huddersfield district. Here weekly bonuses were given to all workers (whether on timeor piece-rates) in rough proportion to their pre-war earnings, as follows: April 1915 6d. to 2S., Jan. 1916 6d., April 1916 Is. to 2S., Oct. 1916 Is. to 2s.; in Jan. 1917 the bonuses were increased especially to those with the highest earnings and the aggregates since July 1914 were 3s. 6d. to all earning 'c p s. weekly or less before the war, 5s. to those earning between Ios. and 15s., 6s. 6d. to women earning over r5s. and to men earning 15s. to 205., and ios. to men earning over 20 shillings.

In June 1917 a common system was arranged for most of the districts and occupations in the Yorkshire woollen and worsted industries. Instead of the war bonuses 50% was added to the time-rates customary before the war and this was increased successively to 60% in Oct. 1917, 721% in March 1918, 814% in Aug. 1918, 1044% in Nov. 1918 and 107% in Feb. 1919; after March 1918 the percentage was only given on 30s. if the basic rates exceeded this sum. Male piece-workers were given laths and female piece-workers lths of these sums, the percentages being based not on piece-rates but on pre-war earnings. In the spring or summer of 1919 an additional 10% was added to the basic rates. From Sept. 1919 the increases were related to the cost-of-living index number, and the addition moved upwards 10% on the original basic rates for every complete 10 points added to the cost-of-living number, these increments were at first not applied to the 10% added in 1919, nor to the excess of basic wages over 3 os., and consequently rates moved rather less rapidly than the cost of living as officially measured. In Dec. 1920 the " cost of-living " wage was 175% of the basic rate, and owing to other changes the whole increment (to operatives where pre-war earnings were under 30s.) reached 216% for time-workers, 181% for male piece-workers and Igo% for female piece-workers.

Hours were reduced in March 1919 from 552 to 48 weekly, and in compensation piece-rates were increased 15% in addition to the increments already described, while weekly time-rates remained unchanged.

1 Coal-Mines

2 Iron and Steel Manufacture

3 Minimum Wage under the Trade Boards Acts

4 Wages in other Countries

5 Norway

6 Denmark

7 Greece

8 Germany

9 Austria

10 New Zealand

11 Table 10

12 Table ri

13 Australia

Coal-Mines

The majority of men working in or at coal-mines in the United Kingdom are paid piece-rates, which used to be increased or lowered by agreed percentages in the various districts at frequent intervals, subject to a minimum day's payment for underground workers. The percentage levels reached in the principal districts from 1909 to 1917 are shown in Table 8.

Table 8. - Piece-rates in coal-mines (expressed as percentages of their amount) in July 1914.

.a

U

?

Q

a)

vs

>

E

?

?

?

E

?

G

74

?

.G

'"

? -

7:jd

?

'

?

?

n

n

0

C7

End of 1909. .

86

92

91

89

86

90

1910. .

87

91

91

91

86

90

1911. .

84

88

91

90

86

89

1912. .

92

93

94

95

97

94

July 1914. .

100

100

100

100

100

100

` 1915. .

109

107

1151

118

113

" 1916. .

141

120

1271

132

136

129

Feb. I

I .

I 7

I 2

I 22

1.6

I 6

1 6

In Sept. 1917 the adjustment by percentages in the different districts was given up, and, the mines being controlled by the Government, uniform movements over the whole country were arranged. In Sept. 1917 and also in June 1918 uniform increases of is. 6d. per day or shift were granted to all men, and a further increase of 2S. in Jan. 1919 resulted from the reports of the Coal Industry Commission. Evidence to this Commission showed that the average of all workers before the war was 6s. 6d. per shift and in Nov. 1918 as a result of the percentages increases and the bonuses of 3s. was 12s. 6d. In July 1919 the maximum time of a shift was reduced from eight to seven hours, piecerates being increased to compensate for the shorter time. In March 1920 an increase of 20% on the wages paid before Sept. 1917 was added, bringing the average to nearly 17s. a shift; in Oct. 1920 after a strike further increases in proportion to any increase in output were arranged; in the early months of 1921 the demand for export coal fell off, and when control was removed on April 1 the miners refused to work at the lower rates offered.

Iron and Steel Manufacture

Wages in these industries are generally related by a sliding scale to the selling price of the product. The movements in different districts have been so divergent that it is not possible to give a summary account of their results, but the following figures are illustrative.

In Cleveland (Yorks) ironstone mining, on Aug. 1917 piecerates had risen 60% over those of July 1914; from that date to April 1920 the same additions were made as in coal-mining.

In Cleveland and Durham pig-iron manufacture, blast-furnace operators' wages were in successive Julys, 1915 to 1919, respectively 8, 31, 44, 57, and 92% above July 1914, and in Oct. 1919 108% above. In Nov. 1919 a new percentage basis was changed. In addition a bonus of 5d. per shift was added in Feb. 1915 and raised to iod. in April 1917, and a war wage of is. 6d. per shift was added in Aug. 1918.

In Northumberland, Durham, and Cleveland iron manufacture, iron millmen's rates were in Julys, 1915 to 1920, respectively 72, 50, 671, 821, 1471, and 1871% above those of July 1814; some bonuses were granted but merged in subsequent increases.

Minimum Wage under the Trade Boards Acts

Under the Trade Boards Act of 1909 minimum wages were established in the following industries. Chairmaking (Igro), lace finishing (1911), paper box making (1912), tailoring (1912), confectionery (1915), shirtmaking (19,5), tin box manufacture (1915), hollow ware (1916). Under a subsequent Act of 1918 new powers were given to the Ministry of Labour, and a number of other industries in which the organization of the workers was imperfect and the wages low were included in the scope of the Acts. The Acts are not confined to women's wages only, but affect numbers of men in tailoring and other industries.

The hourly rates fixed in 1912-6 for women varied from 22d. to 31d., the lowest in 1914 being 24d. The rates rose gradually during the war, but in many cases, owing to the higher earnings possible to women in munitions and other work, more than the minimum rates were in fact paid. More considerable increases took place in 1919 and 1920, and by the end of 1920 82d. or 9d. was the common rate. A normal week, usually 48 hours, has been fixed, after which higher overtime rates are payable. Piece-rates arc fixed so as to give an average worker more than the minimum time-rate.

Wages in other Countries

Apart from the United States, there are very few authentic computations of the general movement of wages or earnings during the war. Sporadic statements of wages in particular industries exist, but they are of little use when a general view is desired. So far as the information goes it indicates that wages in the neutral and Allied countries followed much the same course as in the United Kingdom. The nominal weekly rates increased later than prices in 1914-8 and gained rapidly (in spite of reduction of hours) in 1919-20, till at the beginning of the depression in the autumn of 1920 it was doubtful whether wages expressed in commodities were higher or lower than in 1914.

The following paragraphs summarize the available statistics. For their relation to prices see Cost Of Living.

Norway

Up to the summer of 1918 wages as a whole appear to have increased about 90% since 1914. For April 1919 we have detailed statements such as follow, which indicate a general increase of 160 to 180%. Wage rates are compared with those in 1914 taken as ioo. Bricklayers, urban 254, rural 271; carpenters, urban 282, rural 279; bricklayers' labourers, urban 291; excavators, urban 301, rural 281; urban painters 281, bakers 288, shoemakers 309, tailors 244, carters 282, dressmakers 238, laundry workers 229; agricultural labourers (not provided with food and lodging) 279; State employees, railway guards, etc., 276, gangers and pointsmen 264, head engine drivers 231, assistants 261, postmen 258. By new collective agreements in April and May 1919 hourly earnings in factories were increased till in July 1919 they are stated at 341 (1914 = Too), but weekly hours were reduced from 552 to 48. Unskilled labourers' rates are stated as 388 in Nov. 1919.

Finally an employers' association estimated that in May 1920 skilled adults' hourly wages were 382 in export industries, 398 in other industries, 349 in handicrafts, and for women generally 407, as compared with loo in 1914.

Denmark

Hourly wages generally: 1914, ioo; 1918, second quarter 170, third quarter 200; 1919, first quarter 224, second 257, third 338, fourth 352; 1920, first quarter 358, second 376, third 398. During 1919 daily hours were reduced till they were generally 8 in 1920 as compared with Jo in 1914. In 1919 (third quarter) hourly wages on the same basis were for male workers, skilled 330, unskilled 366, and for women 353. In April 1920 collective agreements made future changes proportional to the cost of living.

Greece

The Minister of National Economy (Greece) gives the figures shown in Table 9 for Athens as corresponding closely with those for other parts of Greece.

Table 9. - Wages in Greece.

Drachmas

Daily wage-earners:

1914

1920

Dockers. .. .

3.50 to 4

30 to 40

Bricklayers.. .

4 to 4.75

18 to 20

Carpenters.. .

4 to 7

18 to 25

Painters. .. .

5 to 6.50

20 to 25

Smiths. .. .

4 to 6

15 to 20

Printers. .. .

3

17 to 25

Turners. .. .

3.80 to 6.50

8 to 15

Boiler-makers

3.50 to 6.50

12 to 15

Fitters. .. .

2.50 to 6.50

6 to 16

Tailors. .. .

6 to 7

25

Miners. .. .

3 to 5

5 to 10

Monthly wage-earners:

Corn mill workers. .

100 to 140

305 to 420

Textile operatives. .

180 to 200

720 to 820

Germany

It is estimated that earnings including overtime had increased 34 io in industries generally between March 1914 and Sept. 1916, while hourly rates had probably increased 25%. In Sept. 1918 the average daily wage of male adults is stated as 12.46 marks and of women 6

oi marks, compared with 5.17 and 2.28 marks in March 1914 (241 and 264 if the earlier wages are taken as ioo). The Federal Statistical Office gives weekly earnings for male adults as 35 marks for the year ending July 1914; if this is taken as loo subsequent figures are Aug. 1919 286, Feb. 1920 486, Nov. 1920 686. Factory inspectors at the end of 1919 reported a tendency to approximation between wages of unskilled and skilled workers.

Austria

The Austrian Trade Union Commission reported that in Oct. 1920 men's wages (in currency) were from 22 to 272 times the rates in July 1914 and women's 20 to 25 times.

New Zealand

The Official Year Book for 1919 contains an elaborate analysis of the minimum wages payable from 1901 to 1919 in 26 occupations. Wages do not necessarily move exactly with their minima, but in unskilled trades they are in fact generally the rates paid. The results are shown in Table 10, the level in 1911 being taken as 1000 in each occupation.

Table 10

New Zealand. Minimum hourly rates.

General

average

Skilled

Semi-

Unskilled

(weighted in

occupations

skilled

occupations

occupations

proportion

to the num-

bers in oc-

cupations)

1901

929

915

940

932

1905

964

939

955

954

1910

992

991

IOW

996

1912

1009

1006

1004

1006

1913

1024

1067

1025

1036

1914

1073

1078

1102

1087

1915

1073

1086

1113

1094

1916

1095

1147

1193

1152

1917

1124

1188

1250

1200

1918

1208

1247

1297

1258

1919

1352

1439

1451

1418

The occupations included are bakers, boiler-makers, bookbinders, paper-makers, bootmakers (male), bricklayers, builders' labourers, butchers, carpenters, coach-builders, coal-miners, drivers (horse), engineers, fell-mongers, flour millers, freezing works employees, furniture makers, grocers' assistants, iron and brass moulders, painters, plasterers, plumbers, seamen, slaughtermen, tailoresses, waterside workers, and woollen mill operatives (male). The Year Book for 1920 (p. 279) gives statistics for average wages in all but the smallest factories and workshops (Table II).

Table ri

New Zealand. Average annual wages.

Australia

The Official Year Book for 1920 contains two statements relating to recent movements of wages from which Tables 12 and 13 are compiled. About 240,000 males and 80,000 females of all ages are included in the returns.

Table z2. - Australia. Average annual payment per-employee. Males Females Table z3. - Australia. Average weekly wages in industries.

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Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Wages (Addition)'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/bri/w/wages-addition.html. 1910.

Adu t Males

Adult Females

Rate

Percentage

Rate

Percentage

s. d.

s. d.

1914 April

55 2

100

27 2

100

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