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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 81

What Degrades Labour

What Degrades Labour.

Let it be remembered that I am not seeking to introduce into the operations of the Act some unnecessary experiment. I hold it to be of paramount importance, not only to the workers and employers, but the whole community, that the workers should have some direct pecuniary interest in the product of their labour. To give all workers, fast or slow, careful or careless, the 6ame wage, to offer no inducement whatever to the worker to take a real and lively interest in his work, to reduce wages to the same dead level whatever be the result of the wage earner's efforts or skill or care, really tends to degrade labour. It page 15 tends to rob it of that living and whole some interest, if not a love of the work, which can prevent the sense of drudgery and add even a pleasure to effort.

The system suggested cannot injure the workers. Under it they are secured the game minimum or needs wage as they now receive under the Court's awards, and assuming the standards are reasonably fixed by agreement between the employers and'employees or by the Court, there is no reason why, without any over exertion the great bulk of the workers should not materially increase their wages. The employers could have no reason to complain, for the system only provides that the worker's additional wage is to be paid out of the additional production of their labour.

I believe that in a great many industries and trades this system, either of individual gain sharing or collective gain sharing, could be applied, especially if it received the support and co-operation of the Labour Unions. But seeing the main motive for proposing it is the benefit of the workers, and seeing that the unions may object to have it thrust on them, I should provide that it was to be prescribed by the Court only in such cases as the unions desired, if it offers them an escape from the dead level wage of which they complain and they reject it their rejection may not "damn the piece but it certainly damns the critic."

I claim for the proposal that it is a method of producing more wealth for the direct benefit of the workers, and thus indirectly for the benefit of the whole community.