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JAMES J. DAVIS, Secretary



• • • • l lO e



Associate Professor of Social Science
Antioch College



H tD I





Chapter 1.— Summary and conclusions__________________________________
Principle of wage fixation__________________________________________
Machinery of wage fixation_________________________________________
Abolition of “ sweating ”_______________________________________
Genera) increase in wages_____________________________________
Legitimacy of such increase in wages___________________________
Influence on discharge of slow workers and unemployment______
Efficiency of workers and employers under minimum wage legis­
Protection of fair employers___________________________________
Effect on industries___________________________________________
Influence toward industrial peace______________________________
6, 7
Chapter 2.—Historical aspects of legal fixation of wages________________ 8-10
Chapter 3.—Wage regulation in Australia______________________________11-21
Developments in Victoria__________________________________________ 11-13
Development in other States of Australia___________________________13-16
Western Australia------------------------------------------------------------------- 13,14
South Australia------------------------------------------------------------------------14,15
_ New South Wales____________________________________________ 15,16
Commonwealth system',____________________________________________
Principle of wage fixation__________________________________________ 17,18
Results__ _________________________________________________________ 18-21
Movement of wages____________________________________________ 18,19
Effect on national prosperity___________________________________
Effect on general level of wages_________________________________
Influence on discharge of slow workers and unemployment______
Influence on industrial peace-----------------------------------------------------20,21
Chapter 4.— Compulsory arbitration in New Zealand____________________ 22-30
Political background______________________________________________ 22,23
Development of legislation_________________________________________ 23-26
Principle of wage fixation__________________________________________
Application of the laws____________________________________________ 26,27
Results------------------------------------------------------------------------------ —--------- 27-30
Stabilization of real wages____________________________________ 27,28
Effect on general level of wages_______________________________
Influence on industrial peace__________________________________ 28,29
Effect on business_____________________________________________
Influence on discharges and unemployment_____________________ 29,30
Chapter 5.—The British trade boards--------------------------------------------------- 31-38
Beginnings, development, and machinery------------------------------------------31,32
Principle of wage fixation-------------------------------------------------------------- 32,33
Results_____________________ ___________________________—--------------33-38
Chapter 6.—Minimum wage for women in the United States------------------ 39-57
Forces for and against minimum wage_____________________________39-45
Application of the laws____________________________________________ 46-50
Legal situation___________________________________________ ——
Scope of the laws_____________________________________________ 46-48
Machinery of the laws_________________________________________
Principle of wage fixation_____________________________________ 48,49
Enforcement---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 49,50




Chapter 6—Continued.
Removal of unfair depression of lowest wages of female workers. 51-53
Effect on efficiency and industrial relations-------------------------------- 53, 54
Increases of prices____________________________________________
Effect on interstate competition------------------------------------------------- 54, 55
Loss of employment by slow workers------------------------------------------55-57
Chapter 7.— State interference with wages in Canada----------------------------- 58-66
Legislation for settlement of industrial disputes------------------------------58
Minimum wage legislation-------------------------------------------------------------- 59-62
Beginnings and development___________________________________ 59, 60
Principle of wage fixation--------------------------------------------------------- 60, 61
Administrative provisions_____________________________________
Application of the laws_____________________________________ — 61,62
Results____________________________________________________________ 63-66
Effect on general level of wages________________________________63-65
Influence on discharges and general conditions of employment__
Increase of efficiency---------------------------------------------------------------65
Influence on industrial peace___________________________________65,66
Public opinion________________________________________________
Chapter 8.—Wage regulation in South Africa__________________________ 67-71
Development and coverage_________________________________________
Machinery of wage fixing, and enforcement______ __________________ 67, 68
Principle of wage fixation----------------------------------------------------------------68, 69
Application of the act______________________________________________ 69-71
General conclusions_______________________________________________
Chapter 9.—General minimum wage legislation in Mexico_______________ 72-75
Federal legislation_________________________________________________
State legislation___________________________________________________ 72,73
Application of the State laws______________________________________
General conclusions_______________________________________________ 74, 75
Chapter 10.—Protection of home workers through minimum wage_______76-91
France____________________________________________________________ 77-83
Principle of wage fixation______________________________________ 77, 78
Rules of enforcement__________________________________________ 78, 79
Application of the law_________________________________________ 79-81
Results------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ 81-83
Norway____________________________________________________________ 83-85
Principle of wage fixation______________________________________
Results________________________________________________________ 84, 85
Argentina________________ _________________________________________ 85-87
Minimum wage for home workers_______________________________85, 86
Principle of wage fixation__________________________________
Minimum wage for shop workers_______________________________
Principle of wage fixation_________________________________
Germany_____ ____________________________________________________ 87-90
Machinery of present law______________________________________ 87, 88
Principle of waare fixation______________________________________
Application of the law_________________________________________ 88, 89
Results________________________________________________________ 89,90
Principle of wage fixation__________________________ ___________
Method of enforcement_________________________________________
Chapter 11.—Unsuccessful or inconclusive attempts to fix minimum wages
for home workers___________________________________________________ 92-96
Switzerland________________________________________________________ 92. 93
Austria____________________________________________________________ 93-95
Beginnings and development___________________________________
Machinery of wage fixing and enforcement____________________
Principle of wage fixation______________________________________ 93,94
Application of the law________________________________________
Absence of results____________________________________________ 94,95



Chapter 11—Continued.
Czechoslovakia------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 95,90
Principle of wage fixation-------------------------------------------------------95
Application______________________________’-------------------------------Results________________________________________________________ 95,96
Chapter 12.—Minimum wage in agriculture------------------------------------------97-103
Great Britain____________________________________________________ 97-101
Principle of wage fixation_____________________________________ 97,98
Application of the law------------------ .------------------------------------------- 98,99
Results______________________________________________________ 99-101
Application of the act-------------------------------------------------------------101
Principle of wage fixation____________________________________ 101,102
Principle of wage fixation_____________________________________
Application of the law_________________________________________
Chapter 13.—Wage regulation in industry controlled by the State_____104-108
The Italian Corporate State______________________________________ 104,105
Russian State trusts---------------------------------------------------------------------106-108
Chapter 14.—Typical and odd forms of minimum wage legislation______109-113
Main currents______________________________________________________
Odd forms_______________________________________________________109-113
Minimum wage in British coal mines_________________________ 109-111
Machinery_______________ _________________________________
Principle of wage fixation-------------------------------------------------Results---------------------------------------------------------------------------110,111
Compulsory arbitration in public utility services of Rumania__ 111, 112
Minimum wage for commercial employees of Norway__________ 112,113
Chapter 15.—R61e of the International Labor Organization____________ 114-119
Chapter 16.—Role of minimum wage in general progress of industrial
Appendix.—Draft convention concerning the creation of minimum wagefixing machinery___________________________________________________121-125




No. 467

D e ce m b e r, m s

H E principal features of the minimum wage laws of the differ­
ent countries which have enacted such legislation and the ap­
plication of such laws have been studied with the view of
ascertaining the results which have followed.1 The following com­
parison brings together in a general way the more significant findings
of the study. An analysis of the basic problem is given in Chapter
2 (p. 8 ); the particular development in the different countries is dis­
cussed in the subsequent chapters.


Principle of Wage Fixation
A U ST R A L IA and New Zealand, starting from various opportunistic considerations, have applied more and more the principle
of the “ living wage.” The United States (for females and minors,
and with some modifications in Massachusetts), Canada, South
Africa, Mexico, Argentina, and Hungary apply, with varying pre­
cision, the same principle.
In France (somewhat similarly in Spain and Norway) and in the
British coal mines mere equalization of certain classes of wages are
sought for specific reasons, which does not make for general results.
The ability of the trade to bear wage increases is a secondary consid­
eration in Massachusetts (next to the main principle of the living
wage); it seems to have decreased opposition and contributed to the
stabilization of the law. This consideration seems preponderant in
Austria and of strong importance in Germany.
Political considerations seem to be decisive in Uruguay and Tucuman (Argentina). The wish to increase the efficiency of the workers
is embodied in the rules for British agriculture, and obviously in­
1 The author is indebted fo r assistance rendered to him in the preparation o f this
report to Albert Thomas, Director o f the International Labor Office, and T. Waelbroeck,
Doctor rrzibram , J. H. Richardson, and Leifur Magnusson, o f the same office; Miss Ethel
Johnson, assistant commissioner o f labor o f M assachusetts; w elfare commissions in other
American S ta tes; the Ministries o f Labor o f Canada, Mexico, South A frica, France, Ger­
many, and A u stria ; the high commissioners o f Australia and New Zealand in L on d on ;
the Italian, German, and Spanish Embassies and the Austrian and Czechoslovakian Lega­
tions in W ashington; Professor Wilbrandt, o f Tuebingen; Engelbert Broda, o f V ien n a;
P rof. William M. Leiserson, o f Antioch C ollege; Carl S. Joslyn, o f Harvard U n iversity;
and Miss Margaret Little. He has utilized particularly the materials collected and the
methods developed by the International Institute fo r the Exchange o f Social Experience
(Paris, later B ern).




spires the Russian provisions for wages rising with the productivity
of the enterprise. The point deserves attention.
Bargaining and opportunism rule in Great Britain, Czecho­
slovakia, and largely also in Germany. While in Great Britain it
has worked well, elsewhere it may be dangerous to proceed without
The historic starting point of minimum wage legislation was the
wish to abolish sweating. Its basic justification remains the guar­
anty of a minimum of existence to all workers. This goal is attain­
able, by its very definition, only through fixation of a living wage.
Australia and New Zealand, in their systematic analysis of the
principle of the living wage, have ascertained the fact of its rela­
tivity. Higher standards are legitimate in calculating the minimum
of existence if the nation is prosperous.
The general productive power of the community must be one of
the bases for determining a reasonable living wage. Is it indis­
pensable also to take into account in determining the basic wage the
particular prosperity of the industry for which a specific wage is to
be fixed? Australia does not find it so, considering that industries
which can not pay the basic living wage had better go out of business
or depend on State aid.2 But to allow for the different strength of
the industries a basic living wage for all industries, calculated with
greatest prudence, may be supplemented by a secondary wage for
prosperous industries. This differentiating procedure seems to be
the best the nations can apply.

Machinery of Wage Fixation
TX7AGES boards administer the laws in Victoria, Great Britain,
* * Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Norway, Hungary, most
Provinces of Canada, most States of the United States of America,
Argentina, Mexico, and South Africa. Sometimes they are replaced
or supplemented by central commissions with state-wide jurisdic­
tion to make possible the application of national policies. They have
proven a really efficient method for the abolition of sweating in all
unorganized trades (particularly home work and female work).
Where strong unions can take care of the sweating problem through
their own strength, and preservation of industrial peace is the pur­
pose of the laws, industrial arbitration is preferred. New South
Wales and several other Australian States, New Zealand, Italy, and
Rumania have chosen that method. The example of Australia and
New Zealand shows that this way also is practicable. But the pur­
pose of elimination of strikes has been better attained by the wages
boards of Victoria, which settle all matters prior to a conflict.3
Direct fixation of minimum Avages by the central State authorities
is, or has been, the rule in the American States of Arizona, South
2 Richardson, J. F . : The Minimum Wage. London, 1927, p. 81. Mr. Richardson, weigh­
ing the various factors o f the problem, arrives at the conclusion that the general produc­
tivity of industry (but not the particular conditions o f a £iven industry) should be taken
into account as a basic principle for the fixation o f the minimum wage.
3 In a subsidiary way (w ith courts or boards), collective agreements between organiza­
tions o f employers and employees are sometimes declared binding (by State authority)
for the whole industry. This method is applied in some Australian States, in Germany,
Austria, and South A frica. In Great Britain also proposals have been put forw ard to
apply that procedure.



Dakota, and Utah, in the Canadian Province of Alberta, in Uruguay,
in Tueuman {Argentina), and in a particular way in the State
trusts of Russia. It can be done that way in uniform communities,
but useful flexibility is excluded by the method. It is less suitable
for advanced industrial States than for a more primitive economy.
No State which has reached high differentiation of its industries
applies it.

TpRANCE (for home workers) and Norwav (for commercial
employees) have relied on civil suits for enforcement of
minimum wage decisions, but this method has practically failed.
All other States rely on their regular inspection forces and empower
them to impose fines for violations. Enforcement has been very
efficient in the various nations of the British Commonwealth.
Enforcement has been good in the United States and reasonably
good on the Continent of Europe, except in Austria (where the
critical economic conditions have been considered by the inspectors
as necessitating the nonenforcement of the awards).
The particular experience of Massachusetts, relying on the disap­
proval of public opinion only as punishment for violations of the
law (ascertained by inspectors), seems to have worked very well.
The method can be recommended (for a transition period) in par­
ticular cases where political or legal difficulties render the regular
way impracticable. Otherwise, enforcement of minimum-wage laws
by the same methods by which other laws are enforced is the obvious

Abolition of “ Sweating*
\ LL reports from Australia, New Zealand, and England are positive on the point that sweating, among home workers par­
ticularly, has been eliminated. Seasonably good results have been
obtained also in the home-work trades of Norway and Argentina.
There was no “ sweating,” to a similar extent, in the United States
and Canada, since home work as the sole means of livelihood is rare in
these countries, but the rather difficult economic status of female
workers in shops and stores who do not live with their families has
been much relieved.
The goal was insufficiently attained where application of the laws
was defective (home-work trades in France, Germany, and Czecho­
slovakia), and nothing has been achieved in the home-work trades of
Austria; neither do the agricultural laborers of Hungary seem to be
much better off than before.
The abolition of sweating depends, experience has shown, on effi­
cient application of the laws; strict enforcement of awards has even
more practical importance than generous determination of the amount
to be paid.



General Increase in Wages
J. W . Macmillan, chairman of the Wages Board of Ontario, states
that in that Province “ the whole pillar of wage structure rises,
although the top less than the bottom.” Reports from Great Britain
and the United States show that the minimum does not become the
maximum. It is to the interest of the employer to attract more highly
skilled workers to his shop, and for that reason he offers wages above
the minimum to people who produce more than the less efficient
workers in these unorganized trades do.
Reports from Australia and New Zealand give us a picture of a
far-reaching standardization of wages; of slow increases, but stabili­
zation, even in the face of industrial depression and falling prices,
preventing thereby decreases of purchasing power of the laboring
classes and further stringency of the crisis.
Australia and New Zealand offer, of course, minimum wages to
a much wider range of workers— not only to women, as in the United
States, or to unorganized trades, as in Great Britain, but to all trades.
As in the case of collective bargaining generally, uniformity of wages
seems to be favored by minimum wage legislation applied to highly
organized trades, particularly where arbitration courts render deci­
sions of a general binding character. The main factor on which the
wage depends is not the importance the employer attaches to the
hiring of an individual worker but the agreement between collective
groups fixing wage scales valid for all. It remains, however, in the
logic of the situation that foremen and workers of particular skill are
compensated by higher wages.
Piecework achieves that frequently, in a quite automatic way.
With the home-work legislation of France, Norway, Germany,
Austria, and others, piecework also dominates and clever workers
earn more than others. The statement that the minimum does not
become the maximum remains therefore true for all these countries.
Legitimacy of Such Increase in Wages
As to whether the increase in wages resulting from minimum wage
fixation is legitimate the problem is of course relative, and the
answer depends on our standards. On the basis, however, of the
prevalent Christian and humanitarian standards of our civilization,
increase of “ sweated ” wages (mainly of home workers) to living
wages is imperative, and minimum wage legislation is highly valu­
able in that respect. The interests of public health and of the up­
bringing of healthy children influence public opinion in the same
In Great Britain the increase of wages in the unorganized trades
and in agriculture has been accepted by public opinion— by the
mass of the consumers, although they have ultimately to pay the
costs (increase of wages less economies by more efficient work) in
the form of higher prices. Even on the Continent of Europe, im­
poverished by the war, no objection has been raised to the ultimate
ratio: higher wages of home workers and slightly increased cost
of living of the mass of the population, which buys the goods pro­
duced by home workers.



In Australasia, as in Russia, the problem is of another order— the
proper proportion of incomes of the wage-earning classes (protected
by minimum wage) to those of the other economic classes, the farm­
ers and business men in Australasia and the peasants in Russia.
Influence on Discharge of Slow Workers and Unemployment
Slow workers are sometimes discharged; the system of licenses,
authorizing handicapped workers to accept wages below the mini­
mum does not cover everywhere cases where defects are not of a
tangible nature.
How important is the number of these cases in proportion to the
number of workers benefiting by the laws? Reports from the
United States and from Canada do not indicate that any great
hardships have resulted for the women employed in stores and shops.
The general situation of the labor market, the proportion of mate­
rial resources to the human material, are so favorable to the workers
that practically all are absorbed by the needs of industry.
The problem is different in Great Britain and in Australasia.
Some home-work trades, the competitive strength of which was
based on low wages, have been replaced by factories. Not all home
workers have been absorbed in industry. No serious hardship, how­
ever, has resulted in Australasia, the general conditions of the labor
market being favorable. Great Britain suffers from general un­
employment, but most of the reports do not indicate a serious in­
crease due to the shifting from home work to factory.
The slowness of the individual worker plays even a lesser role in the
home-work trades of Australasia, Britain, and continental countries
than with the shop and store workers in the United States and in
Canada. Piece rates alone are possible for home work. The slow
worker earns less, automatically, so there is no reason for the em­
ployer to discharge him.
The collective-employment problem of the home workers on the
Continent is more serious. The increase of the French rates was
too small to endanger the competitive strength of the home-work
trades, but in Germany feeling prevailed that employment of home
workers might be restricted by high minimum wages, and the home
workers themselves do not insist thereon, for fear of unemployment.4
In Silesia the rates have been kept low intentionally by the wages
board. Actual loss of means of subsistence, however, is not re­
ported— only prudent application of the law. Overprudent enforce­
ment of the laws, for the same reasons, is reported from Austria.
The increase of unemployment through minimum wage legislation
is not serious in most countries, though there is such a problem in
Central Europe.
Efficiency of Workers and Employers Under Minimum Wage
From Great Britain it is reported that workers are compelled to,
and do, work harder in order not to be discharged. The Bureau of
Labor of the State of Washington reports similar instances. The
* Soziale Praxis, Berlin. No. 49, 1926.



tendency is natural, but overemphasis would be out of place. The
British minimum wage board for agriculture, in its explanation of
the goal to be realized, recognizes that better nourished workers can
also work harder.
More important yet is the European and Australasian situation as
regards the shift from home work to factory work. The same work­
er is frequently put to work at an efficient machine, after having
worked before without such a machine in his or her home. Obviously
the worker is thereby enabled to produce more. The same applies
also to the employer, who becomes more efficient by running a factory
than by relying on home work.
The evidence of the British Cave Committee and the reports of
the Minimum Wage Board of British Columbia show the tendency
of some employers to make up for the higher wages by better super­
vision and application of better technique. The point has its im­
portance because reducing the net cost of minimum wage to the
Protection of Fair Employers
The report of the Massachusetts Minimum Wage Commission
(1919) , the standpoint of the employers of the Pacific Coast States,
the attitude of the employers of Victoria, Australia, the stand taken
by the British employers (as described in the testimony of Miss B. M.
Power, chief inspector, before the Cave Committee), all testify that
the fair employers are grateful for the elimination of competition by
“ sweaters.”
The delegates of the British employers at the recent Geneva con­
ference favored to a certain extent an international convention for
minimum wage legislation. Great Britain has abolished sweating and
wants to exclude competition from nations which have neglected to do
so. From the same motives, employers who have abolished “ sweat­
ing ” in their own business welcome that protection against others who
have not done so.
Effect on Industries
The British and American experience furnishes 110 instance of any
manufacturing industry or any mercantile trade hurt in any per­
ceptible way by minimum wage, as the increase in cost of production
which these limited laws bring about is too small proportionately.
The prosperity of the women-employing industries of Massachusetts
has grown since the introduction of minimum wage.
Australia applies far more general laws and is ready, on principle,
to suppress an industry if it is unable to pay a living wage. In
practice accommodations have been found and the country continues
to prosper. The same is true of New Zealand.
While home industries have been frequently put out of business
through the application of minimum wage laws (as explained in the
course of this study), that is the natural course of industrial progress.
Influence Toward Industrial Peace
There are three different situations covered by the laws, to be
distinguished carefully in order to avoid confusion.



(a) Home-work trades and women’s trades (as covered by the
laws of the United States, Canada, and most countries on the Euro­
pean Continent, and by the British trade boards act of 1909) are
practically immune against strikes; the industrial “ peace of the
cemetery ’’ prevails. Minimum wage was introduced against sweat­
ing, not against strikes. In passing, reference will be made only
to the statement of the chairman of the wages board of Ontario
that the boards educate employers in a way favorable to industrial
(i) The insufficiently organized trades covered by the British trade
boards act of 1918 (protecting also men in factories) and by the
British agricultural wages boards are more liable to be disturbed,
but the danger has never been very great. The evidence before the
Cave Committee shows that industrial relations have been bettered.
In Victoria, boards were established first for unorganized and then
for organized trades; the questions of both are settled before they
grow into conflicts.
(c) The highly organized trades of New Zealand, of most States
of Australia, and in Russia 5 and Italy, are covered by compulsory
arbitration. In the experience of Australasia the fixation of basic
wages of general application by the arbitration courts of New
Zealand and of the Commonwealth of Australia has proved to be
more practical than specific settlements of specific disputes between
workers’ and employers’ unions.
The arbitration courts settle wages as Parliament settles general
problems, without waiting for disputes. Victoria, however, gives
autonomy to the different trades; the representatives of employers
and workers feel that they have made the laws they will have to
obey. Strikes have been practically eliminated. The preventive
and autonomous system of the wages boards of Victoria practically
guarantees industrial peace.
*See restrictions, on p. 107.

ETER M IN ATIO N of wages by free bargaining of the inter­
ested parties is of comparatively recent date. The guilds of
the Middle Ages had great powers over the fixation of wages.
The State later took over part of their functions. An Elizabethan
statute enacted in 15631 instructed justices of the peace in England to
determine laborers’ wages and to take into account, as the basis of
their decisions, the fluctuations of food prices. Contrary to the
earlier custom of prescribing maxima only, in the interests of the
employing class, protection of the laborers was specifically stated as
the main objective of the law. That the justices of the peace, them­
selves belonging to the ruling class, were reasonably impartial is
denied by most authorities on the subject;2 also, the determinations
frequently remained unapplied.
The law was in force, however, for over 150 years, and records of
numerous decisions thereunder are preserved. They show a steady
increase in the amounts of wages to be paid, although not in suffi­
cient proportion to the rise of food prices. Different rulings were
made for urban artisans and agricultural laborers for summer,
winter, and harvest time.3
The application of the law ceased with the beginning of the indus­
trial revolution in the early part of the eighteenth century. All
governmental interference in industrial matters was swept away for
a while by the new productive forces. When exploitation of labor,
particularly of children and women, again brought interference by
public authorities (since 1802), it was restricted to problems of child
labor, sanitary conditions, and working hours. Wages in the British
Empire remained unaffected until 1896— in England until 1909.
Since that time minimum-wage legislation has become a more and
more important part of protective labor legislation generally.
In 1896 wages boards were established in the Australian State of
Victoria. They were empowered to fix minimum wages in order to
abolish the sweating of home workers and to fix reasonable rates in
unorganized trades as the trade-unions do in organized trades.
Two years earlier New Zealand had adopted compulsory arbitra­
tion, starting at the opposite end of the industrial ladder in the
endeavor to substitute methods of industrial peace for the strike
weapon of powerful trade-unions.
Canadian legislation for compulsory inquiry into disputes in public
utilities services, in order to prevent stoppage of indispensable
branches of national activity, dates from 1907. A t about the same


A ct VI Eliz., ch. 4 (1563) ; see Gibbins, H. de B . : Industry in England, New York,
Clms. Scribners Sons, 1920, p. 253.
2 Idem, p. 255.
8 Idem, p. 257, giving a table o f some o f these assessments compiled from Rogers*
James E. T . : Six Centuries o f W ork and Wages, New York, 1884, pp. 387, 898*


C H a p . 2 .— H i s t o r i c a l



w age

f ix a t io n


time Victoria, inspired by the success of minimum wage legislation
for home workers, extended this method of wage fixing more and
more to its whole industrial life. In 1909 Great Britain, doing what
Victoria had done in 1896, established wages boards for home workers.
In 1912 she took a step somewhat similar to the one Canada had taken
in 1907? wages boards for a semipublic service indispensable in the
industrial life of the nation— coal mines— being established. Since
that time the extension of minimum wage legislation from home
workers to other insufficiently organized trades has made great prog­
ress in the British Isles, particularly since the new wages boards act
of 1918. Minimum wages for agricultural laborers have been fixed
in Great Britain, Hungary, and Uruguay. Home workers have been
protected after the Anglo-Saxon model in Norway, Austria, and
Canada has continued its endeavors for preserving industrial peace
through compulsory arbitration, after the New Zealand model, but
has also been inspired by the American laws to apply the benefits of
minimum wage to female workers generally. But while the Ameri­
can legislation has been hampered by the veto power of the courts,
Canada has become the standard bearer of the principle on the North
American continent.
South of the United States, Mexico, in its Federal constitution,
has endeavored to introduce minimum wages into its whole indus­
trial life, and Argentina has adopted the minimum wage both for
home workers and (in the Province of Tueuman) for shop and
factory workers.
In Norway for a short time commercial employees generally bene­
fited by legal minimum wages. France has applied a prudent
minimum wage law to female home workers since 1915, while Ger­
many, since her revolution, has established wages boards for men
and women in the home-work trades.
In 1925 South Africa applied minimum wages to all unorganized
trades, both for white and colored workers, excepting only domestic
service, agriculture, and allied activities.
The International Labor Organization, through its labor confer­
ence of 1927, endeavored to promote uniform and systematic minimum-wage legislation, and adopted in 1928 a general convention to
establish minimum wage fixing machinery in the States.
The timid Australasian experiments of the nineteenth century have
spread far and wide. A superficial view might induce one to believe
that the new principle has been applied in rather a haphazard way.
More careful observation, however, shows that its application pro­
ceeded not so much along the lines of least resistance but rather
along the line of greatest need. Wherever the basic principle of
fixation of wages through the free play of the law of supply and de­
mand has led to the greatest inconvenience, legislation has begun
to replace it by fixation of wages by competent authorities, after
examination of workers5needs and of industrial possibilities.
That necessity appeared clearest in the home-work trades, where
the workers, because of being so scattered, seemed to be helpless, and
in public services which could not be left to unrestricted industrial
war. From these two extremes minimum-wage legislation, from the
bottom of the unorganized trades, and compulsory arbitration, from



the top of the highly organized trades, have spread toward the cen­
tral spheres of industrial life, sometimes combining, sometimes over­
To the question as to whether legal fixation of wages will ever
supersede entirely the principle of free play of economic forces, the
experience of these 34 years does not yet allow a decisive and un­
qualified answer. In Victoria wages are fixed everywhere by wages
boards. In the other States of Australasia and in Great Britain a
trend toward the same goal is clearly marked. Canada, South
Africa, and Mexico follow along the same way, while Italy and
Russia advance by different roads in a similar direction. Elsewhere,
however, the movement toward legal wage fixation is slow.
The principle of legal fixation of wages seems to be particularly
in keeping with the British tradition of continuous legal progress,
of endeavor for harmony between the various branches of national
life. Australasia, perhaps more purely British than Great Britain
itself, has shown the way. Great Britain follows Australasia and
Canada follows Great Britain. In the other countries there are
more cross-currents, more diversity, less continuous development.
The object of this study is to examine the various systems of
minimum wage fixing machinery and to ascertain the results, good
or bad, which have followed.
Minimum wage legislation only will be discussed. The term
“ minimum wage ” has sometimes been used also for fixation— by col­
lective agreements or awards— of the lowest limit for wages in a
given industry. These private minimum wage provisions, such as,
for instance, the minimum wage for Japanese seamen, agreed upon
on July 1, 1928,4 have not been included in this study, which is de­
voted to provisions of public law only.
* Industrial and Labor Inform ation, Geneva, Aug. 13, 1928, p. 179.

Developments in Victoria
H E typical abuses of home work were, until 1895, as general in
Australia as in Europe. Public attention concentrated on the
problem first in Victoria, an Anti-Sweating League being
formed in Melbourne, on whose committees were members of various
classes and political parties. Its activities continued for a long
period, even after initial successes whereby the sweating evil was
materially decreased.
Many employers, in order to avoid the careful inspection of fac­
tories and the advanced labor laws governing workshops, had closed
their factories and introduced home work. Many women working at
home, particularly in the clothing industry, earned only about 2s.1 a
day or less in 12 to 15 hours’ work. The Anti-Sweating League asked,
therefore, for the introduction of wages boards which, in particularly
culpable industries, would establish minimum wages, both for time
and piece work, for home workers and factory workers. These pro­
posals were realized in 1896 by an act of Parliament, initiated by Sir
Alexander Peacock. Advocates of the measure claim as one of its
particular advantages that it realizes the principle of the British jury
system, that everyone has the right to be tried by his peers.2
The boards were composed in the beginning of five delegates elected
by the employers and five delegates elected by the workers, presided
over by an impartial chairman. Such committees were established for
the clothing, underwear, and boot and shoe industries, where home
work predominated, and for bakeries and furniture shops, where the
shop workers were underpaid. Two electorate bodies of workers
were formed, one of factory workers and one of home workers. The
latter, wherever they had more than one-fifth of the total number of
workers, had the right to special representation.3
The law of 1896 gave to the committees the following rights:
(1) To fix minimum wages for time-work and piece-work; (2) to
restrict the number of apprentices under the age of 18 years so that
the law could not be evaded by the employment of apprentices in
preference to adult workers. The desire to protect white Australian
workers against lower-paid Chinese labor led to the extension of the
boards to industries which employed a considerable number of Chinese
workers, particularly the laundry trade.8
Since 1903 decisions of a wages board may be appealed to a tribunal
composed of a judge of the supreme court assisted by representatives
of employers and of workers. As early as 1898 the chamber of com­


* A t par, £ = $ 4 .8 6 6 5 ; s. = 24.33 cen ts; d .= 2 .0 3 cents.
* Victorian Year Book. 1925-26. Melbourne, 1927, p. 35'5.
* Broda, R . : Inwieweit 1st eine gesetzliche Festlegung der Lohn u. Arbeitsbedingungen
mttglieh? Erfahrungen Englands, Canadas, und Australiens. Berlin, Georg Eeimer, 1911.





merce passed a resolution asking for the extension of the boards to
cigar factory, steel, and glass workers.4 The results of the law have
led the Government since 1907 to extend the system to a great number
of other industries where home work plays no role and where the
workers are in no way exploited. The method of fixation of wages
by wages boards became thereby the general basis for the regulation of
conditions of labor and wages, a substitute for the method of strikes
and lockouts.
In the beginning the wages boards had to fix minimum wages more
or less in accordance with the wages already paid by good employers.
Since 1907 they have had the right to fix wages for both factory and
home workers higher than those paid by good employers.
The factory legislation of Victoria was consolidated in the act of
September 6, 1915 (No. 2650). Article 49 thereof prescribes a mini­
mum wage of 2s. 6d. per week for all factory employment. Articles
133 to 173 regulate the work of the wage boards. Articles 174 to
181 authorize appeals from the boards to a court of industrial appeals.
In 1919 and 1920 further acts were passed, based on practical ex­
perience, to render the application of the law smoother.5 An act
was passed December 21, 1922 (No. 3252), which authorized the
boards to prescribe that persons working less than a full week’s time
might be paid at higher rates. This was to protect employees against
the evils resulting from temporary part-time work.
A t the end of 1925, 181 wages boards regulated the conditions of
labor of 193,000 employees6 (practically all the workers of the State,
which in that year had a total population of 1,684,017).7 The
development of wages under the board system may be shown by the
following figures for some of the main industries.8
T a b l e 1 . — Average weekly wages paid to employees in specified trades before

and subsequent to first determination by wages boards
Average weekly wage paid to em­

Before first

Agricultural implements_________ _______ _______________ __ __ _
B o o t________________________________________________________
Bread. ______________________________________________________
Carpenters_____ _______ _____ ____________ __________________ __
Clothing_______________________ - _____________________________
Painters___________________________ _________________________
Plumbers_______________________________________________ _____



1 19 5
1 3 2
1 12 6
2 7 6
1 0 0
2 0 9
1 12 8
1 0 9
1 2 11

In 1914

£. 8. d.
2 10 1

2 1 7
3 2 7
3 3 10
1 6 9
2 14 11
2 14 4
2 0 6
2 2 4

In 1926



8. d.

8 9
9 1
7 3
13 6
16 0
16 4
0 0
12 0
0 10

The table shows that wages in industries where women’s work and
home work predominated, for instance, in the clothing industry,
have been raised out of the “ sweating ” sphere. The increases for
* Broda, R . : La Fixation legale des Salaires. Paris, Giard & Bri&re, 1912.
•Victorian Year Book, 1925-28. Melbourne, p. 361.
• Idem, p. 357.
7 Australia. Bureau o f Census and Statistics. Quarterly Summary o f Australian Sta­
tistics. Melbourne, September, 1927, p. 3.
•Victorian Year Book, 1925-26, Melbourne, p. 359.



them were important even before the war, when the purchasing
power of money did not change materially, and especially so in home
work where earnings had been far below the averages listed above
and frequently as low as 12 shillings a week.9 But in other trades
also the increases were important, even before the war. As to the
later years, we find increases which make up for the decrease in the
purchasing power of money.
In 1924 there were only 67 convictions for violations of determina­
tions of wages boards.10
Many employers, unable to pay the home workers the relatively
high wages fixed by the boards, substituted factory work for home
work. Some employers gave up their industries, but these cases were
very rare.11
The masses of the workers appear to have acquired a sense of
security.12 Scientific and humane considerations determine the mini­
mum of existence, having replaced to a large extent the changing
hazards of economic warfare and the hazards of blind fate. The
worker, knowing this, feels safe, and this conduces to a general tran­
quillity of mind and interest in the prosperity of the nation as a

Developments in Other States of Australia
'T 'H E island of Tasmania has followed the example of Victoria and
regulated its industrial life by wage boards, which have general
power to determine minimum wages as they deem fit, without wait­
ing for any previous dispute.13 There were 50 boards in 1927 for a
total of only 9,171 workers.® The other four States of Australia, and
later the Commonwealth itself, followed the example of New Zealand,
which in 1894 established compulsory arbitration of industrial dis­
putes. The results of that method are shown in detail in Chapter 4
(see p. 22), which analyzes its development in New Zealand, where
it remained free from cross-currents and particularly from partial
amalgamation with the wage-board system, as in Victoria ; but the
methods of the Australian States will be examined here briefly as a
basis for considering Australian results.
Western Australia
Western Australia has maintained relatively pure the New Zealand
method. In the industrial arbitration acts, 1912-1925, unions and
employers’ associations are authorized to register (art. 6) and to
make industrial agreements among themselves (art. 35). The arbi­
tration court, composed of one member nominated by the industrial
associations of the employers, one member nominated by the indus­
• See p. 11.
16Australia (V ictoria ). Department o f Labor. Report o f the Chief Inspector o f Fac­
tories and Shops for the year ended Dec. 31, 1924, Melbourne, 1925, p. 33.
11 Broda, R . : La fixation ISgale des salaires. Paris, 1912.
12 This seemed particularly striking to the author during his stay in Australia in 1906.
18 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1924— Australia 1 (Tasm ania) : An
act to amend “ The wage-board act, 1920,” dated Mar. 13, 1924. Geneva.
* Tasmania. T w elfth Annual Report of the Industrial Department for 1926-27.



trial unions of the workers, and a judge (art 43), may declare these
industrial agreements common rules for the industry (art. 40). The
court shall also decide all industrial disputes (art. 59), and is au­
thorized to prescribe minimum wages. It may delegate to other
tribunals or persons authority to issue licenses for work at lower
wages for infirm, aged, or junior workers (art. 92).
The court may recommend to the governor the appointment of
industrial boards and empower these boards to undertake inquiries
and to make determinations and awards in industrial disputes.
(Arts. 84 and 107.) In the first half of June of each year the court
shall declare: (a) A basic wage for male and female workers; (6)
wherever necessary, particular basic rates for special areas. A basic
wage is to be considered “ a sum sufficient to enable the average
worker to whom it applies to live in reasonable comfort, having
regard to any domestic obligation to which such average worker
would be ordinarily subject.55 (Art. 121.) No minimum wage
shall be fixed at less than the basic wage. (Art. 92.) No award or
industrial agreement shall prescribe a lower minimum wage than
the basic wage except for junior, infirm, or aged workers or appren­
tices. (Art. 121.)
Strikes and lockouts are forbidden. The penalty for noncompli­
ance with this provision by employers or industrial unions of the
workers is fixed at £100 and by others at £10. (Art. 129.)
In the year ending June 30, 1926, 26 industrial agreements were
converted into general awards for the areas to which they applied.
In 307 cases intervention to enforce awards was necessary, and pay­
ment of back wages amounting to £625 was ordered.14 On June 11,
1926, a basic wage of £4 5s. was declared for adult men and £2 5s. lid.
for adult women.
The number of inspectors was found to be insufficient to check up
on the application of all agreements and awards,15 which is com­
prehensible when taking into account the size of the State, 976,000
square miles, and that it has a population of only 385,000 persons.10
Queensland also relies mainly on a central
wages17 and determines conditions of labor.
?uent violations of arbitration awards. The
rom 345 in the year ending June 30, 1925, to
June 30, 1926.18
South Australia

body which fixes basic
There have been freprosecutions increased
441 in the year ending

South Australia combines features of the court and the board
system.19 The act of January 6, 1926 (art. 144), provides for the
* Australia (W estern A ustralia). Department o f Labor. Annual report for the year
1925-26. Perth, 1926, p. 23.
16 Idem, p. 30.
"A u stra lia . Bureau o f Census and Statistics. Quarterly Summary o f Australian Sta­
tistics, Melbourne, September, 1927.
17 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1925— Australia 4 (Queensland) : An
act relating to the basic wage for employees who are governed by awards or industrial
agreements, dated Sept. 28, 1925. Geneva.
18Australia (Queensland). Department o f Labor. Reports for years ending June 30,
1925 and 1926. Brisbane, 1925, p. 4, and 1926, p. 5.
* International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1926— Australia 1 (South A ustralia) :
An act to amend the industrial acts 1920 to 1924, and for other purposes, dated Jan. 6,
1926, geneva.



establishment of industrial boards for all industries considered suit­
able for the purpose by a central board of industry (arts. 253 to 255).
This central board is to be composed of a judge as president, two
representatives of employers, nominated by the South Australian
Employers’ Federation, and two representatives of employees, nomi­
nated by the United Trades and Labor Council of South Australia—
these persons to be appointed by the governor. (Arts. 253-255.) An
industrial arbitration court to settle disputes is provided. (Arts.
The central function of the determination of a living wage is left
to the board of industry. That board is instructed to inquire into
the increase or decrease in the average cost of living and to make
corresponding determinations. (Art. 264.) On that general basis
the industrial boards fix minimum wages for time and piece work
for particular industries. (Art. 167.)
Some friction has been caused through the inclusion in determi­
nations of industrial boards of clauses dealing with matters outside
their jurisdiction which are not, in consequence, legally enforceable.20
There were also in 1924 an unusual number of cases in which em­
ployers were not paying the minimum wage, probably because of
lapse of time between expiration and renewal of important awards.
New South Wales
For a long time New South Wales has oscillated between the
method of compulsory settlement of disputes (inaugurated by New
Zealand) and the fixation of a minimum wage prior to any dispute
(inaugurated by Victoria). The application was intrusted to a
court of industrial arbitration and to wages boards, the system being
completed later (through the amending industrial arbitration act of
1918) by the addition of the board of trade, whose main function was
the declaration of basic living wages.21 Three pounds per week was
determined (on September 5, 1918) as the basic wage for adult male
workers in Sydney; £4 2s. as the state-wide basic wage for other than
rural workers (on October 8, 1921); and £3 6s. as the basic wage for
rural workers (on October 20, 1921).22 This system was rather simi­
lar to that of South Australia. Later simplifications were intro­
duced, combining the central administrative and judicial functions
in the hands of one body and thereby bringing the method nearer to
that of Western Australia. (See p. 13.)
While this most populous Australian State has for so long pursued
a merely eclectic course, in 1927 it inaugurated a new pioneer policy,
differentiating strictly between the basic wage to take care (so far
as men are concerned) of the needs of husband and wife, and a sys­
tem of child allowances. An act was passed on April 11, 192t,28
^A ustralia (South A ustralia). Factories and Steam Boilers Department. Report for
the year ending Dec. 81, 1924. Adelaide, 1925, pp, 4, 5.
21 A ustralia (New South W ales). Board o f Trade. Compendium o f Living Wage Dec­
larations and Reports Made by the New South Wales Board o f Trade. Sydney, 1922, p. v.
22 Idem, pp. 4, 37, 101.
28 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1927-^-Australia 2 (New South W ales) :
An act to amend the law with respect to the declaration o f living w a g es; to amend the
industrial arbitration act, 1912, as amended by subsequent acts, and the industrial arbi­
tration (amendment) act, 1926; and fo r purposes connected therewith, dated Apr. 11,
1927. Geneva.



which provides (art. 2) that living wages for adult male employees
shall be based on the requirements of a man and wife without chil­
dren, but, in addition, a child endowment act was passed prescribing
a weekly allowance of 5s. for children under 14 years of age. The
total amount of wage plus allowances, however, shall not exceed the
basic wage proclaimed under the act of April 11, 1927, plus £13 per
year per child. The mother will receive the allowances.24
This legislation was further amended and consolidated by Act No.
45, 1927, which became effective on December 9, 1927.6 The central
feature of the legislation of this State remains the proclamation of
“ living wages” for the whole State. The figure for adult males
which was 85s. per week in 1920 decreased to 78s. in 1922 and in­
creased again to 85s. on June 27, 1927; the figures for adult females
were 43s. in 1920; 39%s. in 1922, and 46s. in 1927.c
The rates in skilled male trades with strong unions are much
higher; Bootmakers (69s. in Victoria in 1925, p. 12) are, in New
South Wales, to receive 100s. a week; coach painters, 113s.; pattern
makers, 123s.; bakers, 127 to 137s/

Commonwealth System
'T 'H E S E State systems are completed by a Commonwealth system
A providing for compulsory arbitration of interstate disputes. This
procedure is regulated by the Commonwealth conciliation and arbi­
tration act passed in 1904 and amended frequently. It prohibits
(art. 6) entirely strikes and lockouts in these interstate disputes. The
punishment, even for individuals, may reach £1,000 for each violation.
It also provides (art. 11) for the constitution of a Commonwealth
court whose members shall be justices of the High Court. Both
conciliation and arbitration are among the duties of the court. (Arts.
16, 18.) The court may make its awards binding, not only on the
parties to the dispute, but also on other organizations. (Art. 29.) It
is authorized to prescribe minimum wages and to issue rules as to
licenses for workers unable to earn the minimum wage. (Art. 40.)
Amendments to that legislation are at present before the Common­
wealth parliament, on proposal of the Prime Minister,25 which, if
adopted, will harmonize Federal and State legislation. The court
will be directed to consider, when making its awards, the economic
consequences of their stipulations upon industry in general and upon
the particular industries affected. The penalty for violation is to
remain at £1,000 for organizations or employers, but is reduced to £50
for other persons. Organizations when fined £1,000 may reduce the
penalty to £100 by expelling the guilty officers. The procedure to
ascertain the legal existence of a strike is to be made more efficient.
24 Monthly Labor Review, August, 1927, p. 32.
25 International Labor Office. Industrial and Labor Inform ation, Geneva, Mar. 12, 1928,
p. 354.
6 An act to amend the constitution o f the industrial commission, to amend the law
with respect to the declaration o f living wages and the granting o f preference o f employ­
ment to u n ion ists; to amend the industrial arbitration act 1912. and certain other
a c t s ; and for purposes connected therewith. (Assented to Dec. 9, 1927.)
c New South Wales Quarterly Statistical Bulletin, June, 1927, p. 35.
* Idem, p. 33.



Principle of Wage Fixation
rp H E main emphasis of all Australian laws has been on the guaranty of a living wage to all workers. A very general practice,
however, has been to fix a basic wage for unskilled laborers,
satisfying only the “ normal needs of an average employee, regarded
as a human being living in a civilized community,” and a secondary
wage to remunerate skill or other particular qualities (a practice
established by the Commonwealth court of arbitration and defined
by its president, Henry Bournes Higgins).26 The court for a long
time, in fixing a basic wage, started from cost-of-living figures ascer­
tained in Melbourne in 1907 and applied an index number to take into
account the decrease in the purchasing power of money.27 The court
declines to reduce that basic wage. The exigencies of competition,
however, have been taken into account in fixing secondary wages.28
The court has endeavored to maintain a certain margin between the
wages of skilled and of unskilled labor in order to provide an
incentive for properly learning a trade.
The basic wages under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth court,
effective February 1,1927, were fixed as follows for the main centers:
Basic wage per week

. ______________ 4
. ___ . 4
Adelaide _
______ _ —
___________________ _________ _ _ ______4
Brisbane _
_____ _______ _ __________4
____ ___
_ _ . _ 4






These figures are based on the cost of living in these six State
capitals during the last quarter of 1926 ascertained by the Federal
Bureau of Census and Statistics.29
In 1922 the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. appealed against a living
wage “ which left it no profits.” The full court, on appeal, decided
against the company. The reasoning of the judgment can be summed
up approximately as follows: I f works can not exist and pay a
living wage, and if there is a national interest that the works should
continue, the workers should not be required to shoulder a burden
of the community, but a subsidy from the funds available by general
taxation should solve the difficulty.30
South Australia has applied since 1916 the principle that the
“ reasonable needs of a worker in a community where the national
income is high are greater than those of a worker in a community
where the national income is low.” 81
While the dependence of the living-wage standard upon the total
production of the country is admitted, that does not imply de­
pendence of the minimum of existence to be guaranteed by the living
wage upon the particular and temporary financial conditions of a
26 Harvard Law Review, January, 1919, p. 1 9 2 : “ A new province for law and order,”
by Henry Bournes Higgins.
” Idem, p. 199.
28 Idem, p. 201.
28 M onthly Labor Review, May, 1927, p. 172.
80 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, pp. 279, 280.
81 Judge Jethro Brown, in Australia, Econom ic and P olitical Studies, p. 203. (Quoted
by E. M. Burns, in Wages and the State, p. 307.)



particular industry. Exact methods have been applied to measure
that general prosperity that has to be taken into account for the
calculation of reasonable living standards. The New South Wales
Board of Trade, from September, 1923, has taken into account the
prosperity of companies, quotations of stocks and bonds, the balance
of trade, and the quantities of staples produced.32

Movement of Wages
nnHE increase of average nominal wages from 1911 to 1927 is
-*• shown in Table 2, differentiating for the six States so as to allow
comparisons of the influence on wages of their various systems.
The average wage for Australia in 1911 (51s. 3d. per week) is taken
as the base, or 1000, in the index numbers.38
Table 2.—Index numbers of average wages in the States of Australia, June SO,
1914, to March 81,1927
[Average wage in Australia in 1 9 1 1 = 1 0 0 0 ]


June 30,1914..................................
Dec. 31,1914...................................
Dec. 31,1921.................................
Dec. 31, 1922..................................
Dec. 31, 1923...................................
Dec. 31, 1924...................................
Dec. 31, 1925..................................
Dec. 31, 1926..................................
Mar. 31,1927..................................






Australia Australia Tasmania wealth of




Ketail price index numbers for food, housing, clothing, and mis­
cellaneous items in the six States (weighted average of five towns in
each State and for the six capital cities combined), taking the prices
of November, 1914, as 1000, are shown in Table 3 : 84


S . — Index numbers of retail prices in the States of Australia and in the
six capital cities combined, November, 1921, to June, 1927
[November, 1914=1000]


N ovem ­ N ovem ­




ary to April
March, to June,

N ew South W ales______ ______ ___ _____ ___
V ictoria ___________ . . . ______________ _____ _
Queensland________ ___________ _____________
South Australia_____________________ _____ _
Western Australia_____ _______________ _____
Tasm ania___________________________ _______








Average for 6 capital cities___ . . . . . . . . . .








82 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, p. 882.
88 Australia. Bureau o f Census and StatisUcs. Quarterly Summary o f Australian Sta­
tistics, Melbourne, September, 1927, p. 70.
u Idem, p. 77.



A comparison of the two tables shows that the differences between
the six States as regards the increase of nominal wages are small.
South Australia and Tasmania, where the population is less con­
centrated in industrial areas than in New South Wales, Victoria, and
Western Australia, show a slightly smaller increase of nominal
wages, but an increase in prices as high as in the other States, and
therefore a less favorable movement of real wages. But even in
these States, and more so in the others, the increase in nominal wages
is greater than the increase in prices. The real wages have risen
considerably, but not in any extravagant way if we compare them
with the movement during the same period in other countries with­
out legal fixation of wages.
The system of wage fixation independently of disputes (in Vic­
toria and Tasmania) and that of wage fixation more or less in
connection with disputes (in the other States of Australia) had, as a
whole, similar results.35
Effect on National Prosperity
To ascertain how that moderate increase in the living standards of
the working population has affected the bases of public prosperity, a
comparison of bank assets may be instructive. The total assets of
check-paying banks of Australia during the last six years were as

ending June 30—
Total assets
__________________________________ £302,185, 648
327, 458, 496
____________ 347, 842,100
370, 844,006
395, 346,098

Commercial capital has accumulated undisturbed by wage fixation.
The increase of wages also strengthened directly the financial basis
of the country. The number of savings bank accounts and the total
amount of deposits in the last six years have increased as follows: 86
E n d o f fiscal year—

Number o f
open accounts

1921-2 2
1922-2 3
1923-2 4
1925-2 6
1926-2 7

3,413, 280
3, 598, 901
3, 798, 662
3, 992,201
4,182, 566

on deposit

£162, 273,233
171,643, 812
176, 871,477
183,035, 774
195,451, 540

The number of accounts is about equal to the total adult population
of Australia, the whole population on June 30, 1927, being 6,167,000;
financial democracy proves to be a sound basis for accumulation oi
“ Compare, on the other hand, the figures for certain highly organized trades in New
South W ales (p. 16), which are somewhat higher than the corresponding figures for
Victoria. The strength o f unionism is, o f course, o f more importance in the form er State
than under the boards o f V ic to r ia ; but the general state-wide figures are, nevertheless,
very similar in both States.
36 Australia.
Bureau o f Census and Statistics.
Quarterly Summary o f Australian
Statistics, Melbourne, September, 1927, p. 58.



Effect on General Level of Wages
The Commonwealth Court of Arbitration decided in 1915 that
’workers were not compelled to work at minimum rates and that
refusal to do so was not a strike. The court declared expressly that
an employer is quite at liberty “ to seek by extra wages to attract
men who, as he thinks, will give him extra speed and efficiency.” 37
The above-mentioned policy of distinction between the basic wage
for unskilled labor and the secondary supplementary wage for skilled
labor works in a parallel direction. The margin between the earn­
ings of skilled and of unskilled workers is, however, only about 20 to
.25 per cent as compared to a margin of from 65 to 75 per cent in
Great Britain and an average margin of from 60 to 70 per cent in
the United States.38
In an undeveloped country labor is generally scarce and insuffi­
cient for the development of great resources, and the unskilled
laborer has a stronger position than in the better-developed countries.
The wage-fixing legislation is credited with having a Jarge part in
bringing about this greater uniformity of earnings in Australia.
The prevalence of collective agreements and awards in the State*
where agreements or conflicts between associations come before the
courts seems to have a particular influence on the standardization
of wages, although it does not become complete.
Influence on Discharge of Slow Workers and Unemployment
The percentage of unemployed among trade-union members in the
last six years in Australia is as follows: 89
Per cent of

T h ir d q u a r te r o f —




8. 9
6. 7

These figures are in no way extravagant. The provision of the
laws that licenses may be issued for slow workers authorizing them to
work below the fixed rates seems to work.
Influence on Industrial Peace
President Henry B. Higgins, of the Commonwealth Court, states40
that from the establishment of the arbitration court up to 1915 there
was no strike extending beyond the limits of a single State. From
1915 to 1918 there were two ordinary strikes and one sympathetic
strike. One was settled by political influences. In the second case
penalties were imposed on the strikers and the workers had to re­
87 Harvard Law Review, January, 1919, p. 19 3: “ A new province o f law and order,”
by Henry Bournes Higgins.
88 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, December, 1924,
p. 9 6 9 : “ Development o f State wage legislation in Australia and New Zealand,” by
Dorothy McDaniel Sells.
89 Australia. Bureau o f Census and Statistics. Quarterly Summary o f Australian Statistics, Melbourne, September, 1927, p. 64.
40 Harvard Law Review, January, 1919, p. 2 0 6 : “ A new province for law and order,”
by Henry Bournes Higgins.



sume work on the conditions of the employers. In the third case the
union was induced to change its by-laws in such a way as to prevent
strikes without permission of executives.41
The extent of industrial disputes in the various States is given in
Table 4 : 42
T a b l e 4 . — Number of working-days lost through industrial disputes in Australia,

1922 to 1926, by States



1922.................................................. 586,520
1924.................................................. 706,796
1926.................................................. 1, 111, 230







Comm on­
Austra­ Tasmania wealth



There is one striking fact reflected in this table. The method of
Victoria in fixing wages prior to disputes has maintained the number
of strike days at a small fraction of the number in the neighboring
State* of New South Wales, where legislation has laid the main
emphasis on the settlement of disputes.43 The particular conditions
in the mining industry of New South Wales can scarcely be accepted
as the sole cause of the enormous difference.
In Victoria, with approximately 200,000 workers under the boards
and 156,000 employed by manufacturing industries,44 there has been
an average of only about 100,000 strike days per year, or, allowing
for seasonal fluctuations, 1 day per 2 workers per year, although the
legislation of this State does not prohibit strikes. This State settles
the conditions of employment in a constitutional way by agreement
of the parties and prevents disputes which otherwise would have to
be taken care of afterwards under psychological difficulties. The
results in Tasmania (population 208,000), with its wages boards, are
analogous, there being a correspondingly low number of strike days.
Western Australia, with a population not quite double that of
Tasmania— 385,000— has on an average about ten times as many
strike days. The population of Western Australia is more indus­
trialized, but not to the extent indicated by the difference in the time
lost through strikes,. Western Australia bases its social legislation on
the settlement of disputes by the arbitration court.
Queensland (population 894,000), with its mixed system, has fair
results and South Australia (population 570,000), with its mixed
system, even very good results.
Local circumstances, of course, play their role, but the outstanding
fact is the great degree of industrial peace achieved in Victoria and
Tasmania by wages boards alone, without need for court intervention
and penalties against strikers.
41 Howard Law Review, January, 1919, pp. 2 0 7 -2 0 9 : “ A new province for law and
order,” by Henry Bournes Higgins.
42 Australia. Bureau o f Census and Statistics. Quarterly Summary o f Australian Sta­
tistics, Melbourne, September, 1927, pp. 65, 66.
48 The population o f V ictoria June 80, 1927, was 1,726,000, as compared with 2,370,000
in New South Wales. Australia. Bureau o f Census and Statistics. Quarterly Summary
of Australian Statistics, Melbourne, September, 1927, p. 3.
44 Idem, p. 14. V ictoria is a preponderantly industrial country.

CONOMIC, social, and psychological conditions in New Zea­
land are similar to those of her larger sister dominion, the
Commonwealth of Australia, but politically the two countries
are as independent of each other as, say, Canada and South Africa.
Other political conditions have led to the application of other
methods for the solution of rather similar basic questions.
The labor movement, politically and economically, was much
stronger in New Zealand when the first wage laws were passed than
in Australia. The Labor Party was strongly represented in the
government which drafted the first New Zealand laws, which was
not the case in Australia.
New Zealand therefore based her procedure on the existence" of a
strong trade-union movement and concentrated her endeavors on
compulsory arbitration— to better conditions of work and to better
wages without strikes. Victoria, proceeding quite differently—
through wages boards— ignored the trade-unions, as we have seen;
but several other Australian States, particularly New South Wales,
have followed the example of New Zealand, and the experience of
both dominions has been interwoven for a number of years.


Political Background
\ T T H E end of the nineteenth century ideas of evolutionist socialism, as propagated in England by the Fabian Society, spread in
New Zealand and had a strong influence on the systematic develop­
ment of State intervention in industrial life. Theory, as well as
practical experimentation, has shaped these policies.2 Parallel with
the system of compulsory arbitration went the nationalization of
railways, mines, and various industrial services. A coalition govern­
ment, formed by the Liberal and Labor Parties, directed these enter­
prises. Later on the farmers demonstrated more and more their
predominating influence in the economic and political life of the
country. They had nothing against State-owned shipping services,
coal mines, and railways, but they clung to private ownership of the
land. While they had first accepted a system of leaseholds, grant­
ing to the State supervision of effective agricultural management,
they endeavored more and more to convert leaseholds into freeholds,
and finally succeeded in their object— if not in the letter, at least in
effect.8 They did not ask for repeal of the laws for compulsory
1 This chapter is based both on observations o f the author on the spot at the tim e fo l­
lowing the strongest creative efforts (1906) and on documents collected thereafter.
2 Letter o f Mr. Edward Tregear, secretary o f labor in the ministry o f Mr. Seddon, 1906.
8 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, March, 1924, p. 3 5 7 :
“ Experiment? in State control in New Zealand,” by J. B. Condliffe.




arbitration but prevented their development in the direction of
While New Zealand in 1894 was by far the most advanced State
in the world in regard to social legislation, Victoria now rivals her
achievement, and even Great Britain does in some respects. Hav­
ing succeeded in applying the organized national will in the field of
distribution, New Zealand has not continued into the field of pro­
duction her evolution toward socialism. The importance of her
experience lies, perhaps, more in the fact that she showed the way to
other countries than that she may assume leadership for the future.

Development of Legislation
TN 1894 the original industrial conciliation and arbitration act
was passed.4 The primary purpose was the peaceful settlement
of industrial disputes. To have responsible parties on both sides,
provisions were enacted for formal registration of associations of
employers and of employees. Boards of conciliation, and, in the
last instance, a court of arbitration were intrusted with the settle­
ment of conflicts.
Legislation came somewhat nearer to the particular problem of
the minimum wage in 1898. In that year an amendment was enacted
authorizing the court to prescribe minimum wages in its awards and
to make special provision for lower rates to be paid to workers who
were unable to earn the minimum. In 1905 provisions were enacted
for the punishment of participants in strikes or lockouts in industries
under awards. In 1911 authority was given to the court to convert
agreements between the parties into official awards.5
The power conferred on the court in 1898 to prescribe minimum
wages was originally only an incident to its power to settle disputes,
but later the court more and more embarked on a policy to prescribe
minimum wages as a way to prevent disputes arising. Section 8
of the war legislation act of 1918 gives the court power to change
prescribed wage rates even during the term of the award, so as to
adapt these rates to changes in the cost of living.0 Minimum wages
for the whole country were declared in 1919, the only differentiation
being rates for skilled, for semiskilled, and for unskilled workers.7
But at the end of 1923, conditions becoming more normal, the court
decided to abandon changes of awards in relation to changes in the
cost of living and when making new awards to take into account the
conditions ox the trade. National minimum rates were continued for
a time. A t present, however, the practice of the court is to fix dif­
ferent rates for each industry. The bricklayers’ award rates, for
instance, in force in 1927 were 2s. 3%d. and 2s. 4d. per hour; the
bakers’ rates were lower— 2s. l% d .; and the bootmakers’ award rates
even considerably lower— Is. l l ^ d . 8
The industrial conciliation act as passed in 1894 and also in its
present form does not imply real compulsory arbitration, as it
* New Zealand Official Year Book, 1928, W ellington, p. 802.
8 Idem, p. 803.
•Idem, p. 804.
7 International Labor Office. Studies and Reports, Series D (wages and hours of w ork),
No. 1 7 : Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, 1927, p. 129.
8 New Zealand. Department o f Labor. Report for 1926-27. W ellington, 1927, p. 5.



applies only to unions which have registered of their own accord,9
and agreements and awards are binding only in these cases. Dis­
putes arising between parties which have not registered come under
the labor disputes investigation act of 1913, which provides only for
a cooling-off period before strikes may be declared. In practice,
however, up to 1924, only 50 disputes had been filed by 23 unions
under that act; the remaining 415 unions preferred the conditions
of the industrial conciliation and arbitration act. Only 12 awards
were in force at the beginning of 1925 under the voluntary labor
disputes investigation act and 551 under the other compulsory
conciliation and arbitration act.10
As the legislation in New Zealand is frequently considered the most
complete attempt to achieve industrial peace and legal fixation of
wages and is the endeavor of longest duration, it may be advisable
to refer more in detail to the main provisions of the two acts as they
now stand on the statute books. The industrial conciliation and arbi­
tration act and its various amendments, in so far as they have not been
repealed, were consolidated on October 1, 1925. Unions of at least
15 members and employers’ associations with at least 3 members
may be registered under the act. (Art. 5.) By registration such
associations become subject to the jurisdiction of the councils of con­
ciliation and the court of arbitration established under the act. (Art.
12.) Only registered associations can be parties to the agreements
under the act. (Art. 28.) These agreements are binding not only
on the associations which have concluded them but also on their
members. (Art. 30.) I f the court accepts it as proved that an indus­
trial agreement binds employers who employ a majority of the
workers in the industry in the district for which the agreement is
made, the court may, on the application of any party to the agreement
or of any person under the agreement, extend the operation of the
agreement to all employers in the industry in the district, and the
agreement shall thereby have binding force for them. (Art. 32.)
The court shall convert the agreement into an award, unless it finds
the provisions are against the public good or in excess of its juris­
diction. (Art. 33.) No disputes shall be submitted to the court
unless they have first been referred to a council of conciliation. These
councils are formed of commissioners appointed by the Governor Gen­
eral and assessors from the parties to the disputes appointed by the
commissioners. (Art. 40-41.) The council may make recommenda­
tions for the amicable settlement of disputes. (Art. 54.) These
councils may, however, on their own initiative, transmit disputes to
the court (art. 56), and parties may appeal from the advice of coun­
cils to the court (art. 57).
The court of arbitration consists of three members appointed by
the Governor General, two of them nominated by the associations of
employers and of employees. (Arts. 63-65.) Awards of the court
shall bind not only the parties to the dispute but all employers and
trade-unions in the industry and in the district in which the award
has been made. (Art. 89.) The court may even extend the binding
force of its awards to the whole of the particular industry in the
country. (Art. 92.) The court may, in its awards or by orders,
9 New Zealand. Precis o f the Labor Laws o f New Zealand, administered by the D e­
partment o f Labor. Compiled March, 1925. Wellington, p. 1.
10 Idem, p. 5.



make, on application of the parties, a minimum rate of wages and
()rovide lower rates for workers unable to earn the minimum. These
ower rates are to be fixed by tribunals determined by order of the
court. (Art. 99.) Workers striking, although bound by an award,
are liable to be fined £10. (Art. 123.) Employers who, under the
same conditions, declare a lockout may be fined £500. (Art. 123,
sec. 2.) Trade-unions or employers breaking an award or an agree­
ment may be fined £100 (art. 129), and if they instigate an unlawful
strike or lockout, £200 (art. 124).
The working of the machinery may best be illustrated by citing
the main provisions of a typical award rendered by the court. The
award chosen for this purpose is an award still in force— award No.
8868, in the shipbuilding industry in the district of the capital,
Wellington.11 The week^ hours are fixed at 44 (sec. 1) and wages
at 2s. 4%d. per hour (sec. 2). I f a worker has to work elsewhere
than at his usual place of work, expenses are to be paid by the em­
ployer. (Sec. 7.) For work aloft above the main rigging, Is. 6d.
per day extra shall be paid. (Sec. 8.) I f employers and workers
do not agree on the particular pay for salvage work, the matter shall
be decided by the inspector of awards. (Sec. 9.) Employers shall
dismiss workers not members of the union and not becoming members
after a fortnight if the union requests them to do so, and if there is
a member of a union qualified for the work and willing to undertake
it. The provision shall operate only as long as the union freely
admits new members. (Sec. 14.)
Workers may apply for permission to work below the award rates.
The union must be notified. The local inspector of awards or such
person as may be appointed by the court for that purpose accepts or
rejects the application. That person must take into account the
worker’s capability, his past earnings, and other circumstances of
importance. Workers may, however, agree with the president or
secretary of the union for permission to work below the award rates
without such a decision, on condition that notice is given to the in­
spector of awards. Employers must examine these permits before
employing workers at such lower wages. (Sec. 15.) Certain opera­
tions are enumerated and classed as “ dirty work.” Extra pay for
them is Is. 6d. per day. (Sec. 16.)
Disputes are to be submitted to the inspector of awards and appeals
to the court. (Sec. 18.) Workers may be discharged at the port
where they first joined the ship, on 24 hours’ notice. (Sec. 21.)
Overtime rates are fixed at 2s. 9d. per hour. (Sec. 23.) The
award is valid from December 23, 1926, to December 31, 1928. (Sec.
The labor disputes investigation act of December 15, 1913 (No. 75)
applies, as already explained, to associations which have not volun­
tarily registered under the other act. Societies which are not bound
by the other act may, by article 4 of this act, give notice to the
minister of any dispute, specifying the parties thereto and formulat­
ing their claims. The minister shall refer the matter either to con­
ciliation under the other act or to investigation by a labor dispute com­
mittee composed of an equal number of representatives of each party
11 New Zealand. Department o f Labor. Awards, recommendations, agreements, etc.,
made under the industrial conciliation and arbitration act. W ellington, 1926, vol. 26.
p. 1394.



to the dispute, under an impartial chairman. (Arts. 4, 5.) I f no
settlement is arrived at within 14 days, the authorities shall take a
secret ballot of the workers concerned, to determine whether they
wish to accept the recommendation of the council of conciliation or,
if the case has been submitted to a labor dispute committee, whether
they wish to strike or not. The results of the ballot shall be pub­
lished in the press. (Art. 7.)
Strikes are forbidden if they take place before seven days after
the ballot, or before expiration of the agreement. Every striker in
that case may be fined £10. (Art. 9.) Employers have to wait a
similar time before declaring a lockout (arts. 11 and 12), and may be
fined £500 if they break the rules. (Art. 13.) Unions inciting to un­
lawful strikes may be fined £1,000, or £10 for each of their members.
(Art. 15.)

Principle of Wage Fixation
FTER the above-cited war-time legislation, the cost of living was
. one of the essential considerations for the fixation of minimum
wages by the court. In November, 1922, however, careful in­
quiries into the movement of prices, trade balance, banking facilities,
etc., were undertaken, particularly to ascertain the net wealth of the
country as one of the factors to be considered in visualizing the
“ fair standard of living ” as a relative entity. Since 1923 trade
conditions have been declared to be one of the main considerations
to be taken into account in fixing the minimum wage.
Different rates, as we have seen, have been fixed for workers of
different skill, even when the system of national wage minima was
employed, and more so, of course, to-day after the reestablishment of
different rates for different industries. The present system, there­
fore, combines the living-wage principle (as a general minimum of
existence), the fair-wage principle (differentiation by skill), and the
principle “ wages the trade can bear, in the adaptation of the rates to
trade conditions.12 This synthesis seems to combine more systemati­
cally than that in any other country the cardinal interests of all
parties concerned.


Application of the Laws
AW ARDS are in force, based on one or the other of the two acts,
for all important industries, except for agricultural and pas­
toral employees and for railway employees, the working conditions of
the last-named group being settled directly with the railway depart­
ment.13 In 1927 there had been filed under the industrial conciliation
and arbitration act 20 industrial agreements, 134 recommendations
of councils of conciliation, and 126 awards of the court of arbitra­
tion. The great majority of disputes submitted to councils of con­
ciliation were substantially settled by them, there being failure in
only 9 cases.14

12 Classification, which seems to take into account the main principles applied in the
laws o f various countries, proposed in Burns, E. M .: W ages and the State, London, 1926,
p. 268.
13 New Zealand Official Year Book, 1928, W ellington, p. 785, and Precis o f the Labor
Laws o f New Zealand, administered by the Department o f Labor. Compiled March, 1925.
Wellington, p. ?>.
14 New Zealand. Department o f Labor. Report for 1926-27, W ellington, p. 4.



During the year 1927, 3,229 complaints of violations of awards and
industrial agreements were investigated. There were 381 prosecu­
tions for violation of agreements or awards not referring to stop­
pages of work— 55 against workers and 326 against employers— and
827 convictions. There have been only two prosecutions for strikes;
one of them, covering 35 workers, led to conviction.15
Thirteen industrial disturbances of any importance occurred
during the year.16

Stabilization of Real Wages


H E increase of money wages in the main industries from the
beginning of the war to the end of 1926 is shown by Table 5 : 17

T a b l e 5 . — Index

numbers of nominal wages in New Zealand, 1914 and 1917 to
1926, by industry groups

[Average wages for all industry groups, combined, in 1909=1000]
Industry group










Food, drink, and tobacco________
Clothing, boots, etc_____________
Textiles and weaving____________
Building and construction_______
W ood manufacture______________
Printing, etc......................................
Metal working and engineering...
Other manufactures............. ..........
M ining....................................... .......
Agricultural and pastoral__ _____
Land transport__________________
Shipping and cargo working..........
Hotel, restaurant, and other per­
sonal service___________ _____
All industry groups com bined.









1711 1778
1162 1191
1555 1558
1799 1804
1810 1837
1822 ! 1967
1780 1784
1702 1731
1799 1820
1486 1491
1702 1736
2064 2106















The corresponding movement in real wages (purchasing power)
for the same industry groups is given in Table 6 : 18
T a b l e 6 . — Index

numbers of real tcages in New Zealand, 1914 and 1917 to
1926, by industry groups
[Real wages in all industry groups, combined, in 1914=1000]

Industry group











Food, drink, and tobacco...............
Clothing, boots, etc.........................
Textiles and weaving......................
Building and construction.............
W ood manufacture______________
Printing, etc................ ....................
Metal working and engineering...
Other manufactures........................
M ining................................ .............
Agricultural and pastoral..............
Land transport.................................
Shipping and cargo working..........
Hotel, restaurant, and other
personal service.............................
All groups combined.............








1048 1048
1037 1054
1072 i 1061
1051 1037
1037 1048
1191 1203






812 "822




966 ' 960"


15 New Zealand. Department o f Labor. Report fo r 1926-27, W ellington, p. 5,
16 Idem, p. 6.
17 New Zealand Official Year Book, 1928, W ellington, p. 786,
“ Idem, p. 791.

109931°— 28------ 3




It can be seen that nominal wages rose during the war but that
the jurisprudence of the court did not adapt them fully to the in­
crease in the cost of living, even after the provision made therefor
by war-time legislation, although there was some effort in that
direction. On the other hand, there has been only a slight decrease in
nominal wages and rather an increase in real wages during the post­
war depression. The influence of the legislation has been rather
conservative, retarding somewhat adaptation to industrial conditions.
The war-time rise in prices was rather lessened through not increas­
ing the wages to the same extent, thereby avoiding a further corre­
sponding rise in prices. The decrease in nominal wages during the
depression was less than the decrease in prices. The purchasing
power of the workers was thereby maintained and an influence
exerted against aggravation of the crisis. The jurisprudence of
the court had a stabilizing influence.
Effect on General Level of Wages
The report for 1926-27 of the Department of Labor (p. 5) gives a
comparison of minimum rates under the awards and average rates
paid to workers (other than foremen) in the four chief centers of
New Zealand:
Table 7.— Minimum rates under awards and rates generally paid in specified
occupations in New Zealand, 1926-21

Award rates

2s. Slid, and 2s. 4d_________. . . .
2s. 3d. and 2s. 3%d.................. .
2<. 2d. and 2s. 3 d _______ ____- _
2s. 3d_____________ ________ ____
2s. 3 ^ d ., 2s. 4d. and 2s. 4 ^ d ____
2s. 2d. and 2s. 3d______ _______ _
Is. 9d., 2s.l% d .,2 s.3^ d .,an d 2s.
4M d .
Bakers.................................................... ........................ ....... 2s. IHd.............................................
Boiler makers, molders,
2s. 3d..............................
engineers, motor..................
sheet-metal workers, and tinsmiths.
Boot makers_________________________________________ Is. llK d ............................... ............
Cabinetmakers___________________________ ______ ___ 2s. 3d_______ __________________
Engine drivers_______________________________________ 2s. lA d . and 2s. lH d ____________
Tailors_____________ _________________________________ Is. 8J4d. and 2s. 2d_____ _______
Waterside workers___ - _________________________ ____ 2s. 2 ^ d ........................................

Bricklayers_______________________ . . . _______________
Carpenters and joiners_______________________________
Electrical workers__________________________________
Plumbers__________________ _____ ___________________


generally paid

d. s.
6 - 3
4 - 2
3 - 2
3 - 2
6 - 3
2 - 2
m -2


2 1H-2 4y2
2 3
1 11M-2 2
2 3 - 2 6
2 134-2 6
1 10M-2 6
2 4

It can be seen that there is some difference in the rates, as employers
have an interest in attracting more clever workers through higher
wages, but the difference is very slight. Individual wage contracts
have been superseded by agreements and awards, and there is prac­
tically no room for individual differentiation. In countries where
individual contracts prevail, for instance in the United States in the
women’s trades, the development is quite different, as will be seen
Influence on Industrial Peace
The small number of strikes has been shown above. They do not
invalidate the claims for such legislation, as strikes are prohibited
only for registered associations. The 13 important disputes in the



year 1926-27 arose in three trades only— coal miners, freezing-works
employees, and waterside workers. They resulted from various causes
and in only one case from a conflict as to wages.19 That the New
Zealand legislation seems to be efficacious may be gathered from the
following statement of the average number oi days lost per year per
1,000 population by strikes and lockouts in the various countries dur­
ing the period 1919 to 1923.20
Great Britain__________________ __ 819
Sweden_________________________ ___795
New South Wales______________ ___661
Germany----------------------------------------- 591
Western Australia______________ __ 461
Ita ly ___________________________ ___852

South Australia________________
New Zealand___________________

” 234

A further step to promote industrial peace through cooperation of
all groups of the population was undertaken on December 5, 1927,
when a committee was appointed by Parliament, at the instance of
the Prime Minister, composed of two members chosen by the Labor
Party and six members by the other parties to arrange for a con­
ference of all interested in the industrial situation to study the
Dominion’s industrial problems.22
Effect on Business
The number of registered factories increased from 13,469 in
1913-14 to 16,619 in 1926-27, and the number of factory workers from
87,517 to 103,404, the movement being approximately in accord with
that of the general population.23 There was no rapid industrializa­
tion, but taking the New Zealand policy of imperial preference into
consideration it can not be concluded that this legislation has ham­
pered industry. As the average of real wages in 1926 was slightly
below the pre-war figure (see Table 6, p. 27), the costs of produc­
tion do not seem to have been increased by the minimum wage
awards; indeed, the much smaller number of strike days as com­
pared with other countries, would tend to decrease the cost of pro­
duction. There is apparent no adverse influence on the development
of industry from this legislation, but rather a slight beneficial
Influence on Discharges and Unemployment
The average number of unemployed filing applications at the
Government employment bureaus in 1926-27 was between 1,000 and
2,000.24 These figures are considered by the Department of Labor
as showing a certain depression of trade. When compared with the
total number of factory workers (exceeding 100,000), however, they
19 New Zealand.
Department o f Labor.
Report fo r 1926-27.
W ellington, 1927,
pp. 6, 7.
“ Idem, p. 8, quoting from a compilation by the International Labor Office.
21 But the figures o f the latest years are infinitely better (see p. 21 ).
28 International Labor Office. Industrial and Labor Inform ation, Geneva, Feb. 27, 1928,
p. 800.
“ New Zealand. Department o f Labor. Report for 1926-27, W ellington, 1927, p. 2.
24 Idem. p. 1. But compare the New Zealand Statistical Report, 1926
W ellington, 1928,
p. 15. stating that not all persons register at the employment bureaus. The real figures
are, therefore, somewhat higher.



seem to be rather below the usual figure of the “ industrial reserve
army ” and to show that no considerable number of workers is ex­
cluded from employment through the awards.
The industrial conciliation and arbitration act provides (arts. 145,
146) that workers may apply for permission to accept a wage below
that prescribed for ordinary workers and the method of doing so.
There is no express stipulation restricting licenses to defective work­
ers. The secretary of the trade-union is to be heard, but decision
rests with the tribunal designated by the court.25 From the low
figures of unemployment it may be supposed the case of slow workers
has been taken care of under this provision of the law and that no
great hardship has been caused in that respect.
There has been no evidence pointing to any unfavorable conse­
quence of the New Zealand legislation. Its main consequence lies in
the direction of industrial peace, and in the preponderance of farreaching wage and labor policies, dictated by considerations of gen­
eral interest, over industrial strife and the u right ” of the stronger
26 A w a rd 8868, sum m arized on p. 25 gives fu rth e r perm ission fo r agreem ent betw een
w ork ers and un ion s to w ork below7 th e fixed ra tes even w ith o u t express licen ses fro m the
a u th orities, and thus ren ders it easier fo r the slow w ork ers to ob ta in em ploym ent.

Beginnings, Development, and Machinery
H E Australian methods became known in England in the
first years of the nineteenth century. The evils to be remedied
were the same, as sweating, particularly in the home-work
trades, prevailed even more in London and the great industrial cen­
ters of England than in, Australia. The British were much inclined
to apply the method for abolishing sweating which in Australia had
stood the test of practical life,® and therefore a trade boards act was
promulgated on October 20, 1909, establishing wages boards for in*
dustries where home work predominated— tailoring, paper-box mak­
ing, lace work, and chain making.1 The Minister of Labor was
given the right to extend the law, and by 1913 the results in the abovenamed industries appeared so successful that he extended the law to
four other industries— cutlery, pottery, candy, and metal boxes—
employing a total of 419,000 persons, among them 310,000 women.
On August 8, 1918, the sphere of minimum wage legislation was
further extended. The first law authorized the constitution of wages
boards for only those industries with very low wages. The new law2
(art. 1) extended them to all industries where (in the opinion of the
Minister of Labor) there is no adequate machinery for th'i effective
regulation of wages and the rate of wages makes it expedient to
apply the act. Boards have the right to fix minimum wages for
ordinary shopwork and for overtime, and so they can also fix the num­
ber of hours after which the right to overtime begins. These boards
have the right to appoint district commissions and to secure informa­
tion on local conditions.3 Each board is composed of delegates of
employers and of employees and persons appointed by the Govern­
ment. The Government appointees decide in case of nonagreement
of the other representatives, thus guaranteeing that wages will be
fixed. Home workers have the right to special representation.
The boards fix, first, minimum wages for timework, and afterwards
minimum rates for piecework but are under no obligation to do so.
I f no piecework rates are fixed, the employers must prove that their
piecework rates allow workers of average force and ability to earn
the time rates fixed by the committee.
Trades where conditions have become satisfactory can be excluded
by the Minister of Labor from further application of the acts.
I f a worker believes he has been wronged, he may present a com­
plaint to the board, which may go to the court, or he may go directly
to the court himself. The inspectors of factories also supervise the
application of the law. Sometimes they have to prevent pressure
on workers to act in collusion with their employers. Miss Dorothy


tf See for first proposals, The International Records of Progress, London, December,
1907, p. 5 : “ Sweating and minimum wage,” by Sir Charles Dilke.
*Pub. Gen. A cts 9 Edw. V II, p. 91.
2 Pub. Gen. A cts 8 and 9 Geo. V, p. 101.
8 Willis, W. A d d in gton : Trade Boards— A practical guide to the operation o f the trade
boards act. London, 1920, pp. 14, 31, 51.




M. Sells reports on such a use in Cradley Heath, the workers there
giving overweight in chain— i. e., more than a hundredweight for
the weight of a hundredweight, or returning part of their earnings
in the form of a rebate.4
Following the passing of the more extensive act of 1918, there was
a large increase in the number of trades covered by the legislation.
A t the end of 1921 the legislation was applied to 63 trades, 70 per
cent of the workers employed therein being women.
At the end of 1926 there were 44 boards,5 on which were sitting 132
impartial members, 748 employers’ representatives, and the same
number of workers’ representatives. One and a quarter million
workers in 39 trades were covered by the work of these boards.6
On April 1,1928, the orders of 45 boards were in force, some of them
restricted to England and Wales and some for Scotland only, but
most of them for the whole of Great Britain (but not referring to
Northern Ireland).7
A general view of the increases brought about by the wages boards
may be gained from Table 8, taken from the report of the survey of
industrial relations undertaken by the committee on industry and
trade, submitted in 1926:8


8 .—

Minimum hourly wages in specified occupations in June, 1914 and
1925, and per cent of increase
Hourly wages

June, 1914

Per cent of increase

June, 1925





Paper-box making...........................................
Chain making..................................................
Lace finishing_____ ______________________



m f\n






17 |





1 Ready-made and wholesale bespoke tailoring.
* Retail bespoke tailoring.

These increases have been greater than those in other industries.

Principle of Wage Fixation
C^ B E A T B R IT A IN has followed a more empirical, less methodical
way than Australia as regards wage fixing. Practically no defi­
nite instructions are given by the law as to the principle for the
establishment of the minimum wage. The act of 1909 (art. 4) leaves
the boards entirely free in the fixing of minimum rates. It referred
(art. 1, sec. 2) to rates u exceptionally low in comparison with other
employments ” as a condition for the establishment of new boards anti
* Sells, D o ro th y M . : T h e B ritis h T ra d e B oa rd s System . L on d on , 1923, p. 42.
5 T h e d ecrease sin ce 1921 w as due p a rtly to the fa c t th a t botii N orth Irela n d and the
Irish F ree S tate had in the m ean tim e established in d ep end ent system s and the Irish
b oa rd figures w ere n o lon ger in clu d ed in th e B ritish figures.
6 L eagu e o f N a tion s U nion. T ow a rd In d u stria l P eace (re p o rt o f C on feren ce o f th e
L eagu e o f N a tion s U nion, L on d on , F eb ru a ry, 1 9 2 7 ). L on d on , 1927, p. 29.
7 L is t receiv ed fro m H. M. S ta tion ery Office, L ond on , dated A p r. 4, 1928.
8 G reat B rita in .
C om m ittee on In d u stry and T ra d e.
S urvey o f in d u stria l relations,

London, 1926, p. 93.



thereby implied the desirability of equalization, but the act of 1918
(art. 1, sec. 2) eliminated that provision.
Each board has elaborated its own policy in conformity with trade
conditions and the individual strength ot its members. No trouble
has been taken to establish cost-of-living budgets or to investigate
their items in a scientific way. E. M. Burns says: 9
No board has ever proclaimed that if its members could not pay a living wage
they had better retire from business. And there is no reason why it should.
It represents the trade itself; the ordinary members, probably because of their
numerical strength, play a much greater part in the deliberations than is else­
where the case; and both employers and workers are alive to the importance
of maintaining the existence of the trade.

The evidence before the official investigation commission headed bv
Viscount Cave, at present Lord Chancellor of England,10 showed,
quite in line with these points of view, that most boards based their
awards on their opinion as to what the trade could bear. But the
final decision was generally a compromise between this and other
considerations. Sir A. Hopkinson describes the procedure of the
cotton waste board as follows: “ We consider the fact of the cost of
living; we consider the rates which are paid in similar employments
as near as may be, and all the other elements of the case; and then
the parties talk it over, and in the result, after talking it all over
together, we have in that case arrived at what we thought was the
fairest minimum rate ultimately adopted by agreement of employer
and employed.”

T H E awards have profoundly and in various directions influenced
-*• the fate of considerably over a million workers and the develop­
ment of many highly diversified industries. To visualize these in­
fluences from various angles, some of the main conclusions of the
most representative experts who have examined the subject are here
Sydney Webb, in an article in the Journal of Political Economy
for December, 1912 (p. 973), entitled “ The economic theory of a
legal minimum wage, gives it as his general opinion that the legal
minimum wage increases the productivity of the nation’s industry,
as the surplus of unemployed is recruited from the least efficient
workers. The employer (such is Webb’s experience) selects the best
men; the better wages improve the physical condition of the workers,
and the desire to be kept in work, notwithstanding the employers’
obligation to pay minimum wages, stimulates the workers to do their
best. All these phases of evolution— selection of the fittest men and
women; better physical condition and mental stimulus— are there­
fore brought into force by application of the minimum wage. Webb
finds that industries in which sweating formerly prevailed have not
The public has been compelled to pay more for the products
and has thereby enabled the employers to pay higher wages. The
range of the unemployables has been increased, as workers not earn­
0 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, p. 274.
10 Great Britain, M inistry o f Labor, Minutes o f evidence taken before the committee
o f inquiry into the working and effects o f the trade board acts, London, 1922. p. 76 5;
National Consumers’ League, the Cave report on the British trade board acts 1909-1922,
N«w York, 1923.



ing for the employer the amount of the minimum wage are not em­
ployed. Public charges can thereby increase to a certain extent.
Webb believes, however, that this is preferable to half-hearted em­
ployment of unclever workers at low wages. Weak bargainers who
formerly accepted less than they were worth now receive what they
are worth.
Examining the question whether businesses close down on account
of the obligation to pay minimum wages, Webb finds that in five
sweated trades from 1907 to 1912, while wages increased from 12 to
85 per cent, the number of workers employed by these industries
relatively to the general population of the country also increased.
Webb shares in no way the fear expressed by Samuel Gompers, late
president of the American Federation of Labor, that the State, hav­
ing fixed minimum wages, may compel workers to work at that rate.
According to Miss Sells 11 there seems to be slightly less unemploy­
ment in trades regulated by the trade boards act than in other trades,
which does not seem to confirm the opinion of Webb as to the exten­
sion of the range of the unemployable. A need for administrative
improvement, so she states, is rather generally admitted, but the feel­
ing in favor of repealing the act has been insufficient for its realization.
While most students of the subject examine it from long-range
viewpoint and are mainly interested in general class or community
interests, Mildred E. Bulkley investigated tangible results from a
short-range viewpoint and helps to visualize the influence of the law
on the feeling and well-being of the people immediately concerned.
In a summary of some of her observations may be found basic ma­
terial for a more concrete formulation of general considerations.
Miss Bulkley, in a study of legal minimum rates in the box-making
industry12 explains the arguments of employers against the law.
In particular, the employers in small cities were against a uniform
standard for the whole country. They claimed that they had greater
general costs than their competitors in the big cities, who were
established near the industries to which they delivered the boxes.
They claimed also that working Avomen in the small cities have fewer
opportunities to spend their money, and that if a high minimum wage
were fixed, they would have no incentive to earn more. The wages
board did not consider these complaints justified. The board was of
the opinion that the slightly more difficult situation of the manu­
facturers in the small cities (a difficulty exaggerated by the com­
plaints) in no case justified sweating of the girls, as the wages boards
are established for the very purpose of making these abuses im(>ossible. Other employers claimed that the working girls who were
ess well paid were the ones who were not clever. Miss Bulkley be­
lieves that lack of efficiency is caused by poor nourishment, re­
sulting from too low wages. Increases in salaries should enable the
girls to do better work. The board was not overactive. Time wages
had beeix fixed, but no data had been prepared to show, for particular
boxes made less frequently, whether the piece-rate wages really made
it possible for the workers to earn the time rates.
11 Sells, Dorothy M .: The British Trade Boards System. London, 1923, p. 222.
12 Bulkley, Mildred E . : The Establishment o f Legal Minimum Rates in the ttox-Makin?
Industry under the Trade Boards A ct o f 1909. London, 1915.



In the inquiry by Miss Bulkley it was found that about one-half
of the manufacturers in the trade studied had granted increases of
wages to the women. The salaries of qualified workers had remained
unchanged, while the nonqualified workers had profited by the mini­
mum wage. Increases had been particularly good in southern Eng­
land where wages had been very low\ In the north about 3 pence per
hour had always been paid, and by the fixation of the boards this
figure simply became a general rule of the country. In one place
(Ipswich) the workers had protested against a proposition to increase
the minimum wage to 3% pence per hour, being afraid that slow
workers would be dismissed. Experience showed that some manu­
facturers had endeavored to compensate the higher wages by com­
pelling the workers to work more quickly and to produce more.
.Some workers, interrogated by Miss Bulkley, even replied that they
preferred the old system of work, saying, “ It is slavery getting the
On the other hand, the employers had given their attention to
greater regularity of work; they were no longer lenient toward
workers who came late in the morning.13 They had introduced laborsaving machinery, improved their methods of work, and thereby, to
a large extent, had compensated the new costs. For a long time they
were able to maintain the prices at the old level, and it was only dur­
ing the years immediately preceding the inquiry by Miss Bulkley that
they had been compelled to increase their prices; but this corre­
sponded to the general increase of prices in England (and the rest
of the world) during the second half of the war and immediately
Sixty-six per cent of the female home workers whom Miss Bulkley
interrogated replied that their earnings had increased. The number
of home workers had decreased, while that of factory workers had
increased. The fixation of time rates had been insufficient in the
case of home workers, as it was too difficult to determine the length
of time needed for making the various products.
Miss Bulkley found that in the beginning the trade-unions were
strengthened by the introduction of the law, but that phenomenon
was of rather short duration. On the other hand, the employers, who
formerly had not been organized, formed in 1910 the British Paper
Box Manufacturers’ Federation, the better to defend their interests.
Other difficulties arose, not so much from this legislation as from
the increase of prices in raw materials. In Northampton, for
instance, the employers were compelled to increase their prices by 10
per cent although the salaries of workers, which had always been
rather high, had in no way been changed by the introduction of the
minimum wage legislation. Business in general had not been de­
creased by the increase in prices. More boxes were used than before,
and export was larger than import.
These inquiries seem to show that the British law has increased in
a modest way the lowest salaries of working men and women, particu­
larly as regards home workers. Some of the less capable have been
dismissed, but, as in Australia, special licenses have been granted
to old workers and defective workers authorizing them to work at
13 But the women also no longer lost their time, without pay, when waif hit; for work,
for they had to be paid the minimum wage even while waiting.— League o f Nations Union.
Toward Industrial Peace (report o f Conference o f League o f Nations Union, London.
February, 1927). London, 1927, p. 40.



lower rates. It is in the interest of the employers to engage clever
workers at prices higher than the fixed minimum. No real disadvan­
tage seems to have resulted from this amelioration of the workers5con­
ditions, and the English law of 1909 appears to have been a success.
The Cave Committee report on the working of the British trade
boards acts from 1909 to 192214 states that during the trade depres­
sion in 1920 there were many complaints because the reduction of
wages, parallel to the reduction of prices and the decreased earning
power of industry, had been too slow. This statement agrees with
that made in Australia that the wage boards resisted the decrease of
wages after the war. The boards make for stabilization, however,
and it is questionable whether the disadvantage in the competitive
power of the industry which may result from resistance to wage
adjustments is not compensated, in the whole of the national indus­
tries, by the maintenance of the purchasing power of the workers.
The inquiry on which that report is based showed that both em­
ployers and workers are for maintenance of trade boards for sweated
industries, as provided in the act of 1909. A strong minority of the
employers was also for the maintenance of the act of 1918, providing
for its application to more skilled and organized workers. All work­
ers favor maintenance of the provisions of the law for these groups
of employees.
The commission advocated that the minister alone apply the law
and that he establish new boards when unduly low wages are paid
and no adequate machinery exists in the industry for the regulation
of wages. It opposed a national minimum wage. “ Where mini­
mum rates are required they should be determined with reference to
the circumstances of each trade affected and not on a national basis.5’14
Miss B. M. Power, chief of the inspectorate to prevent noncompli­
ance with the act, stated in testimony given on February 15, 1922,
that employers welcomed the act of 1909 on account of its influence
toward eliminating competition from sweating employers.15
Cooperative societies have been unanimous in support of the laws
of 1909 and 1918. Representatives of the Farmers5 Union, on the
other hand, were of the opinion that the law is too rigid in industries
where there are no antisocial conditions.
Many employers went on record as stating to the commission that
they welcomed the protection of decent employers against undersell­
ing by sweaters afforded by the acts, particularly the act of 1909.
The National Women’s Advisory Committee of the National Fed­
eration of General Workers stated before the committee on December
14, 1921,16 that in the match industry, formerly one of the strong­
holds of sweating, the workers were then organized 100 per cent.
A match joint industrial council had been established which fixed
rates higher than the trade board rates. A movement was therefore
launched for the exemption of the trade from the trade boards act
under the clause of the act which provides for application to cancel
provisions of the act which have become unnecessary.
Various instances were brought to the knowledge of the committee
where machines were overhauled and commercial organizations per­
14 Great Britain. M inistry o f Labor. Report o f the committee appointed to inquire into
the working and effects o f the trade boards act. London, 1922.
15 Great Britain. M inistry o f Labor. Minutes o f evidence taken before the committee
o f inquiry into the working and effects o f the trade boards acts. London, 1922, p. 911.
ie Iaem, pp. 451, 452.



fected, in order to increase the productivity of the workers and to
make higher piece rates possible. There was much testimony that
industrial relations had been bettered.17 The employers and workers
were on better terms. For instance, W . H. Stoker, former attorney
general and chairman of some of the boards, and Foster G. Robinson,
employers’ representative on the paper-bag trade board, stated that
relations between employers and employees had been bettered through
their meeting on the boards. The boards created a mutual and helpful
spirit.18 After the board was formed there were no more disputes of
any consequence in that industry.
The cooperation of all classes of Great Britain in the development
of minimum wage legislation again manifested itself at the conference
called by the League of Nations Union, which took place in London,
February, 1927, to stimulate the interest of British public opinion
as to the treatment of the minimum wage problem at the Interna­
tional Labor Conference of June, 1927.19
At the international conference in Geneva the representatives of
the British employers voted for the motion to put the question of
an international convention on minimum wage fixing machinery on
the agenda of the conference of 1928.20
Evidence before the Cave Committee was to the effect that the
minima do not tend eventually to become maximum wages. John
Carr, director of Peek, Frean & Co. (Ltd.), biscuit makers, stated
that when trade boards increased the rates, the rates of all better
paid workers were automatically increased.21
Several representatives of employers, however, complained to the
committee of inquiry that high minimum rates and sometimes also
lack of differentiation to meet local conditions have disturbed some
trades, forcing the employers to close their shops or to reduce their
staffs, and so added to the prevailing unemployment.
This important question of the relation between unemployment
and minimum wage was referred to also by Prof. L. T. Hobhouse,
who admitted the danger of replacing underpayment by unemploy­
ment, but claimed for the board system the advantage of flexibility m
handling the matter.22 It was treated also by Humbert Wolfe, assist­
ant secretary at the Ministry of Labor in charge of trade boards, who
stated on the witness stand before the Cave Committee on October 12,
1921, that the general industrial unemployment on September 16,
1921, was 12.4 per cent; unemployment in industries under trade
boards, 10.2 per cent; and unemployment in industries without boards,
13.3 per cent. Mr. Wolfe deduced, not that boards decrease unem­
ployment, but that nothing tended to show that they increase it.28
He admitted, however, that rural employers in the dressmaking trade
17 E xactly the same phenomenon has been found in the industry o f the Canadian Prov*
ince o f Ontario (see p. 66).
16 Great Britain. M inistry o f Labor. Minutes o f evidence taken before the committee
o f inquiry into the working and effects o f the trade boards acts. London, 1922. dd
771, 993.
19 League o f Nations Union. Toward Industrial Peace (report o f the Conference o f the
League o f Nations Union, London, February, 1927). London, 1927, conclusions analyzed
in South Africa, Department o f Labor, Social and Industrial Review, October, 1927.
p. 323.
20 They did not vote at that conference o f 1928 fo r adopting the convention. Differ­
ences o f opinion as to the scope o f the convention seem to have influenced this vote, like
that o f the employers’ delegates from other countries. (See ch. 9, p. 118.)
21 Great Britain. M inistry o f Labor. Minutes o f evidence taken before the committee
o f inquiry into the working and effects o f the trade boards acts. London, 1922, p. 118.
" I d e m , p. 690.
38 Idem, p. 43.



had obtained a lowering of rates by a threat, considered as real and
not as a bluff, otherwise to discharge their workers.24 Mr. Wolfe gave
the case as exceptional.
The problem of whether efficiency of production has been influenced
by the board system was discussed by T. B. Harmer, representing
the Eastern Counties Wholesale Clothing Manufacturers’ Association.
When questioned by the Cave Committee on December 6, 1921, he
stated that—
The trade-board regulations determined employers in the country districts to
introduce the team system which was prevalent in the larger centers, with the
consequence that production became very much more rapid. Bach person,
instead of doing the whole process, does a very small part.26

Another angle of the same question was examined by E. H. C.
Wethered, chairman of various trade boards. He stated, when ques­
tioned by the committee on February 1, 1922, that “ old-fashioned
and badly managed shops in an industry may find it impossible to
come up to the standard of wages imposed,” but that he had “ never
heard a suggestion of an industry being stopped as such.” 26
In summing up this evidence, several points seem to be practically
1. “ Sweating ” has been very considerably reduced, and much
misery has disappeared.
2. Minimum wages do not tend to become the maximum.
3. There is a tendency to make up for the higher wages by forc­
ing the workers to work harder and by using better machinery,
thereby increasing the efficiency of production.
4. The cooperation on the trade boards works for industrial peace
(a point more significant in Great Britain, as compared w^ith the
United States and Canada, as Great Britain has established numerous
wages boards for male workers).
5. Good employers welcome the acts, particularly that of 1909, as
protection against “ sAveaters.”
6. Industries have not been destroyed by the minimum wrage legis­
7. There have been no particular complaints from the public as
to the increase of prices, an indirect consequence of the higher wages.
As the laws refer to unorganized trades where wages in general
were unduly low, the public was generous enough to accept the bur­
den without protest. The votes in Parliament were not a partisan
issue, and the representatives of the wealthy classes agreed. These
statements are, however, more unreservedly exact for the law of 1909,
referring to sweated trades, than for the law of 1918, referring to
unorganized trades generally.
8. The only point on which the evidence is inconclusive and the
opinions rather contradictory is the question as to what extent slow
workers have been thrown out of employment and as to whether or
not general unemployment has been increased. The question is, of
course, vital for Great Britain. The conclusion seems justified, how­
ever, that neither the individual hardships nor the increase in unem­
ployment have been very great.
24 Great
o f inquiry
28 Idem,
* Idem,

Britain. M inistry o f Labor. Minutes o f evidence taken before the committee
into the working and effects o f the trade boards acts. London, 1922, d . 29.
p. 324.
p. 426.

Forces For and Against Minimum Wage
U M A N IT A R IA N impulses for relieving conditions of under­
paid workers have made themselves felt in the United States in
the same way as in Australasia and England. The humani­
tarian character of the movement has been even more accentuated
and more isolated from other factors then elsewhere, and has prac­
tically played an exclusive role in bringing about minimum wage.
The initiative came after the action of the International Conference
of Consumers’ Leagues which took place in Geneva in 1908, when
the American Consumers’ League put minimum wage on its program.2
While the Women’s Trade Union League cooperated in the agitation
for the pioneer law in Massachusetts, enacted in 1912, the influence
of organized labor generally was not strongly in favor of the legis^
lation. Minimum wage for men was opposed by the American Fed­
eration of Labor as interfering with the role of tlie trade-union move­
ment. It is excluded also by constitutional provisions, as inter­
preted by the courts. That being so, minimum wage as a factor for
industrial peace in the organized men’s trades, which aroused so
much public opinion in other Anglo-Saxon countries, was not advo­
cated m the United States from any responsible quarter.
Humanitarian minimum wage legislation in Australia, England,
and on the Continent of Europe was directed first, both in time and
attention, toward conditions of home workers. But in the United
States industrial home work as an exclusive basis of subsistence does
not play anywhere near the important role that it does in the abovementioned countries. As wage legislation for males was generally
opposed, there remained only one fairly numerous group of workers
whose difficult struggle for existence attracted wide public attention,
and where efforts for a minimum wage were not precluded by the
above-named influences— self-supporting women in shops and stores.
As it seemed difficult to care for them without at the same time caring
for women living with their families, female workers generally be­
came the object of minimum-wage legislation. The economy of the
family unit, which largely relieves such difficulties for women living
with their families, has been strongly emphasized by opponents of


1 The s u b ject o f m inim um w a ge legisla tion in th e U nited S tates w a s trea ted by th e
w riter in an a rtic le w ritten in 1927 and published in the J an u a ry , 1928, num ber o f the
In tern a tion a l L abour R eview (G en eva , pp. 2 4 - 5 0 ) .
W h ile m an y fa cts o f the A m erican
situ a tion , fa m ilia r t o stu d en ts o f th e p roblem in th is cou n try, had t o b e exp la in ed to the
fo re ig n readers, the em phasis o f the present a rticle is ra th er on in te rp re ta tio n o f th e
fa cts to A m erican readers. A grea t num ber o f recen t d ocum ents, rendered a va ilab le in
th e m ean tim e, h a s m ade it p ossib le t o base co n clu sio n s m ain ly on th e n e w m ateria l,
though som e ca rd in a l poin ts, ind isp en sa b le fo r the u n d ersta n d in g o f the problem , had, o f
cou rse, to be reiterated .
2 N a tion a l In d u stria l C on feren ce B oard. M inim um W age L e g isla tio n in M assachu setts.
N ew Y ork, 1927, p. 11.




the legislation.8 The wages for minors have been included in thu
efforts for minimum wage, although the arguments against the neces­
sity of making them self-supporting could also be advanced for that
group of workers.
Massachusetts, with its strong idealistic traditions from Puritan
and abolitionist times, paved the way as to minimum wage legisla­
tion in 1912; California, Colorado, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oregon,
Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin followed the next year; Arkansas,
Kansas, Arizona, Texas, North Dakota, the District ox Columbia, and
South Dakota, later. Efforts in Ohio in 1925 were combated by the
employers’ interests4 and failed. Generally, however, the adverse
decisions of the courts proved to be the strongest obstacle to further
extension or even maintenance of the laws. The fifth and fourteenth
amendments to the Constitution of the United States, as interpreted
by the courts, prohibit interference with liberty of contract unless
justified by legitimate police power. Proof of furtherance of the
general welfare was sometimes considered sufficient, but at other
times it was necessary to prove tangible dangers to public health or
morals. The question of the unconstitutionality of minimum wage
laws, because of interference with liberty of contract, was first passed
on by the United States Supreme Court in 1917, in regard to the
Oregon law, the decision of the State court upholding the law being
sustained by an evenly divided court, one judge not voting. In 1923,
however, the Supreme Court held the District of Columbia law un­
constitutional by a 5 to 3 decision, 1 judge not voting, and in 1925
and 1927, on the basis of that decision, held the Arizona and Arkan­
sas laws, respectively, unconstitutional. The supreme courts of Kan
sas and Porto Rico decided the same way.
The laws of the District of Columbia, Arizona, Arkansas, Kansas,
and Porto Rico have thereby been eliminated through express court
action. The laws of Texas and Nebraska were repealed, while the
attorney general of Minnesota ruled that the law of that State, ex­
cept for females under 18, is not enforceable.5 Wisconsin endeavored
in 1925 to meet the constitutional difficulty by passing an “ oppressive
wage” act, and there seems to be no disposition to start a test case
against that law so long as the industrial commission of the State
does not attempt to issue new or higher rates.6
One law, that of Massachusetts, is of a recommendatory rather than
a mandatory character and its constitutionality is not questioned. The
situation in the other States is rather ambiguous. Orders frequently
remain in force by tacit agreement of the employers, while real en­
forcement is restricted to minors. In order to clarity this twilight
situation the writer has asked the responsible officials of these States
and the departments of economics of their universities to give pre­
cise first-hand information, and has received numerous letters, ex­
tracts of which are given in the following pages.
8 Quarterly Journal o f Economics, Boston, May, 1916, p. 4 1 1 : “ Minimum wages for
women,” by F. W. Taussig, o f Harvard University.
4 American Labor Legislation Review, New York, June, 1925, p. 1 1 4 : “ Employers’
agents at work against minimum-wage legislation,” by Amy E. Maher.
8 National Industrial Conference Board. Minimum Wage Legislation in Massachusetts.
New York, 1927, p. 3.
• Letter o f Pror. John R. Commons, o f the University o f W isconsin, dated Sept. 27.



Mrs. Millie R. Trumbull, secretary-inspector of the Industrial
Welfare Commission of Oregon, writes under date of March 19,1928:
Oregon still carries on through the industrial welfare commission the wage
regulations established in 1919. We do not have any prosecutions, however, as
that would precipitate the determination as to the unconstitutionality of the
clause under the United States Supreme Court decision. We have been very
fortunate in being able to settle most of the cases in the office through informal
hearings. We emphasize the expense of going into courts and also point out
that all prosecutions in violation of the order result in the fine money going
into the treasury, a civil suit being necessary to collect the overtime for the
complainant. We suspect, however, the fact that the wages are so low ($13.20
a week for an experienced adult woman) has much to do with the situation.

The position of the Division of Industrial Welfare of California is
similar but seems somewhat stronger. Mrs. Katharine Philips
Edson, chief of the division, writes on March 24, 1928 :
We are enforcing the law with considerable success. There has been practi­
cally no break in the minimum wage legislation of the State in any industry
except the canning industry in southern California. They are paying a higher
piece rate than those fixed by this department but they have refused to conform to
the audit system. They obey the overtime regulations and conform to all the
requirements of the department but have not cooperated with the commission
in reference to this audit system.

This commission issued an order for the motion-picture industry,
effective March 16, 1926, making rules for working conditions and
hours, and proportionate rates for overtime, but not prescribing any
express minimum wage.7 Influential groups of employers cooperate
with the commission and are disinclined to undertake a legal fight,
although their chances might be good. The Merchants and Manu­
facturers’ Association of Los Angeles on March 20, 1928, writes:
Although there is some legal doubt as to the constitutionality of this law in
the face of recent Supreme Court decisions, no test case has been brought in
the State of California and so long as the operations of this law appear to be
successful to industry as we now view them, I doubt if any such legal action
will be taken.

The limits of the present compromise are, however, narrow. Prof.
W . G. Beach, of Stanford University, in his letter of March 20, 1928,
The California commission is at present working upon what may be called a
cautious policy because of adverse court decisions in regard to laws of this
character. Thus far it has been able to obtain the approval of manufacturers
in the State, and as a consequence there is apparently no immediate likelihood
of the law itself being attacked. The result is that minimum wage conditions
are much better in most occupations than before the operation of the law.
However, it is altogether probable that if the commission were to attempt any
more radical measures than it has used thus far, the manufacturers would in
all probability attack the law itself. The result is that the commission does
as much as it can and still retain the general approval of the manufacturers—
particularly the larger ones. On the whole these manufacturers seem to feel
that the law itself has many advantages from their own point of view in so far
as it regulates the basis of competition for all of them alike.

The situation in the State of Washington is similar. The em­
ployers cooperate. Prof. Theresa McMahon, of the University of
Washington, in Seattle, writes in a letter received in March, 1928:
Under the new regime no conferences have been called, so the old wage remains
undisturbed. It is really lower than the minimum fixed by bargaining condi­
tions for women workers in department stores and laundries, etc. * * *
TAmerican Labor Legislation Review, New York, June, 1928, p. 123.



There is no opposition on the part of employers in Seattle to the minimum wage
law. This changed attitude, it seems to me, is due to the fact, as I stated
above, that the fixed wage is really the marginal wage, and often below
it. * * *
The laundry workers are almost a hundred per cent organized. They are
organized in a type of industrial unionism which places the strength of the men’s
organizations behind the women’s demands.
When I was on the minimum wage commission the laundry workers were
among the poorest paid. Now they are among the best.
The women who can clean by the day get 45 cents and 50 cents; an hour, car
fare and lunch at noon. * * *
Since I served on the board— I was on the first one— employers have changed
their attitude in this State. Then, they were looking for cheap labor, which
was inefficient labor. Now, the employers use, for the most part, a higher type
of labor, pay them more while their returns, I suspect, are really higher. This
does not apply to the 10-cent stores or mail-order houses.

A test case was in process in California in 1924 and a brief was
prepared by the National Consumers’ League, but the complaint was
withdrawn by the plaintiff before the decision of the court.8
In Colorado there has been no effort to enforce the legislation.9
In Utah the law is practically inoperative because the rate of $1.25
per day, fixed in 1913, has been exceeded by wage developments in
that time. Carolyn I. Smith, secretary of the industrial commission,
in her ietter of March 15, 1928, writes:
The minimum wage allowed women workers under our law is so ridiculously
low that, especially in the larger cities and towns, it is almost without effect.
Almost any woman of any experience can demand in excess of $1.25 per day
at almost any sort of employment, and for this reason the average wage is much
more than that provided by law.
We have but very few complaints, and these are usually from the more thinly
populated districts where the cost of living is low and the wages correspond­
ingly so.

North Dakota continues to enforce its minimum-wage orders.
Miss Alice Angus, secretary of the workmen’s compensation bureau,
writes in a letter dated March 28, 1928:
The fourth biennial report contains the minimum wage rulings as they were
adopted in 1922, and they are in full force and effect without change at this
time. We do not have difficulty in enforcing the minimum wage rulings in the
State, as most employers seem to be in favor of them and comply as a matter
of course. We do meet with a great deal of opposition, however, in our at­
tempted enforcement of the eight-hour law for women. At the present time the
question of the constitutionality of the law is up on appeal before the North
Dakota Supreme Court, and we are awaiting their decision.

In Minnesota, as explained above, application of the law is re­
stricted to minors. Miss Louise E. Schutz, superintendent of the
Industrial Commission of Minnesota, writes on March 15, 1928:
The Industrial Commission is enforcing the minimum wage law in the case
of minors in Minnesota— i. e., males under 21, females under 18. An attempt
was made at the last meeting of the legislature in 1927 to have the law amended,
which amendment defined a minor for the purposes of the minimum wage law
as a person under tke age of 21, thereby bringing women under the age of 21
as well as men under the protection of the law. This amendment was defeated.
W e are constantly securing wage adjustments in Minnesota. Our record for
the calendar year 1927 totals $2,695.77. We are able to secure more adjust­
ments for males than females naturally, due to the fact that a larger number
of males are protected under the law.
8 Letter from Mrs. Florence Kelley, general secretary o f the National Consumers*
League, dated Mar. 26. 1928.
• L etter from J. G. Johnson, o f the University o f Colorado, received in March, 1928.



Some employers now refuse to take in females under the age of 18 because
of the minimum wage law. In so far as the males are concerned the law
has had this effect that it has resulted in the employment of older boys, since
boys 15 years of age must be paid as much as boys 17 years of age.

In Texas no law is applied at present, but Mr. Charles McKemy.
commissioner of labor, writes in his letter of March 22, 1928, that “ it
is contemplated to present to the next session of the State legislature
a proposition looking to the enactment of a minimum wage law.”
In Arizona also there is no law at present. Mr. J. C. Sanders, the
industrial agent, under date of March 16, 1928, writes:
A number of the larger employers of women are not opposed to a minimum
wage law, and probably would support it if properly drafted.

As to the District of Columbia law many legal arguments have been
brought forward against the validity of the reasoning of the Supreme
Court.10 Constructive proposals for the drafting of a measure to
avoid the constitutional difficulties have also been elaborated.11 No
positive action, however, has been taken to date.
The present status and the character of the minimum wage laws
which have not been repealed or have not been declared unconstitu­
tional by the courts are summarized in the following chart:
10 New Republic, New York, November, 1925, p. 271.
u Letter from P rof. Felix Frankfurter, o f Harvard University, dated Mar. 19, 1928.

109931°— 28-------1


S u m m a r y o f m in im u m w a g e



Legal status



Constitutional amendment,
1914; act of 1913; amended
1915. Legally in force.
Test case of 1924 not car­
ried through as complaint
was withdrawn before de­
cision of court. Applica­
tion by compromise with
Act of 1917 (earlier law, 1913).
No appropriation for car­
rying out provisions of
act; inoperative.

Women and minors
under 18 years of age.

Special licenses to women
physically defective by
age; also to apprentices
and learners.

Massachusetts.. . Act of 1912; amended 1914,
1915, 1916. Constitution­
ality not questioned.

.d o.



Act of 1913; amended 1921.
Legal for minors only.

Women and minors
(males under 21, fe­
males under 18), but
enforced for minors

North Dakota__

Act of 1919. Constitution­
ality not expressly ques­

Women and minors
under 18 years of age.

Act of 1913; amended 1915.
Legally in force although
constitutionality could be
questioned because of de­
cision of U. S. Supreme
Court as to similar laws.
Application by compro­
mise with employers.
South Dakota___ Act of 1923. Constitution­
ality not expressly ques­



Special licenses to sub­
standard workers (not
to exceed one-tenth of
workers in establishment);
rates for learners to be
graded on rising scale.
Special licenses to women
physically defective; board
recommends s u i t a b l e
wages for learners.
Licenses to physically dis­
abled women (licenses
not to exceed one-tenth
of workers in establish­
ment), but provision in­
Special licenses to females
defective physically by
age or otherwise and to
Licenses to women physi­
cally defective or crip­
pled by age or otherwise.

Permits to substandard
workers and learners.


Act of 1913. Constitution­
ality not expressly ques­

Women and girls over
14 in factories, work­
shops, laundries, res­
taurants, etc.
F e m a le s.........__ . . . . .


Act of 1913; amended 1917. Women and minors
under 18 years of age.
Legally in force although
constitutionality could be
questioned because of de­
cision of U. S. Supreme
Court as to similar laws.
Application by compro­
mise with employers.
Act of 1913; amended 1925. Women and minors..
Portion of original act re­
lating to minors legal;
amendment relates to “ op­
pressive wage" instead of
minimum wage.

Special licenses to women
physically .defective or
crippled by age or other­
wise, and to apprentices.


None for substandard work­
ers; lower rate for learners.

Special licenses to women
or minors unable to earn
the minimum set.



la w s o f t h e U n ited S t a t e s

Principle of wage fixation

Method of enforcement

Industrial welfare commission;
wage boards representing em­
ployers and employees.

Wage adequate to supply women
and minors the necessary cost
of proper living and to maintain
the health ana welfare of such
women and minors.

Fines or imprisonment for viola­
tions. Workers may recover
amounts due by civil action.

Industrial commission; wage
boards representing employers,
employees, and the public,
with member of commission.

Necessary cost of living and main­
tenance of health of employed
women. Avoidance of unrea­
sonably low wages for minors.

Workers may recover amounts
due by civil action, commis­
sion to assist.

Division of minimum wage in
department of labor and in­
dustries; wage boards repre­
senting employers, employees,
and the public.
Industrial commission; advisory
boards, representing employ­
ers, employees, and the public.

Needs of the employees, the finan­
cial condition of the occupation
and the probable effect thereon
of any increase in the minimum
wages paid.
Living wages..................................

Inspection; publication of names
of employers violating decrees.

Workmen’s compensation bu­
reau; conferences, represent­
ing employers, employees, and
the public.

Necessary cost of living and main­
tenance of health; piece rates to
guarantee the necessary cost of
living to women of average
ordinary ability and to main­
tain them in health.
Necessary cost of living and main­
tenance of women in health.

Fines or imprisonment for viola­
tion; workers may recover
amounts due by civil action.

Not stated in law.

Worker^ may recover amounts
due by civil action.

Industrial welfare commission;
conferences representing em­
ployers, employees, and the

Rate fixed by State law—$12 per
week, except for apprentices
and learners.
Bate fixed by State law—$1.25
per day for experienced adults;
90 cents per day for adult
learners and apprentices; 75
cents per day for minors under
18 years of age.
Industrial welfare committee in
department of labor and indus­
tries; advisory conferences,
representing employers, em­
ployees, and the public.

Industrial commission; advisory
wage boards, representing em­
ployers, employees, and the
public, in the case of minors.


Workers may recover amounts
due by civil action.


Administration by industrial
commission. Violations prose­
cuted as misdemeanors, pun­
ishable by fine or imprison

Adequacy, in the particular in­
dustry, to supply the necessary
cost of living and maintain the
worker in health.

Fines for violations; workers may
recover amounts due by civil

For minors, living wage; for
women, reasonable and ade­
quate compensation—wage not
to be oppressive. Licenses for
employers to employ adult
women at lower wage if he can
establish that he is unable to
pay wage fixed, but inefficiency
of employer no reason for
granting licenses.




Application of the Laws
'T' H E laws of the different States have stood in different ways the
test of practical application, and a brief examination of that
experience may shed some light on their comparative usefulness and
on the outlook for further development. The analysis in the preced­
ing chart serves as a framework for the following extended comment
on the present status of the laws.

Legal Situation
The compromise reached in most of the States with mandatory
laws has been heretofore described (see pp. 40 to 43). The only law
which remains on firm legal ground is the recommendatory law of
Massachusetts. The supreme judicial court of that State has twice
sustained it— in 1918 and in 1924— after the decision in the District
of Columbia case.12 The court, wThile rendering somewhat more diffi­
cult the application of the law through the medium of public opinion
by declaring that newspapers could decline to publish the list of
noncomplying firms, stated, on the other hand, that the adverse deci­
sion of the United States court in the District of Columbia case does
not affect the Massachusetts law, as that law is not mandatory but
This judicial situation has attracted the attention of Governor
Smith in New York. In his message to the New York Legislature
this year he proposed the enactment of a minimum wage law of a
recommendatory nature, as this will meet the objections of the
Supreme Court.18

Scope of the Laws
The great controversies over minimum wage laws in other coun­
tries, such as those regarding the scope of the laws, do not seem to
touch the United States. Minimum wage legislation for men has
never been attempted. There is therefore no problem as to whether
to apply it to “ insufficiently organized55 trades only or to “ all ”
trades. The women’s trades to which the law applies practically all
fall into the first group— that of incomplete unionization. The dis­
tinction between enumeration of trades to come under the law, as in
South Dakota, and the more general wording of the laws elsewhere
has no great importance, as the authorities are empowered to select
for practical application only those women’s trades where conditions
seem particularly to warrant it. Massachusetts decrees, for instance,
apply to only 19 trades, employing about 90,000 women,14 while there
are about 500,000 women gainfully employed in the State.
The only controversy involving considerations of principle refers
to the question whether or not home-work trades, which have been
the starting point of Australian, European, and British legislation.
u 44 Fifteen Years o f Minimum Wages in Massachusetts,” by Ethel M. Johnson, assist­
ant commissioner, Massachusetts Department o f Labor and Industries. Boston, 1928, p.
12. (Typew ritten.)
18 Id«m, p. 2.
14 “ Massachusetts Minimum Wage L a w : Recommendations and Outlook for the Future.”
Submitted by Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner, Massachusetts Department o f
Labor and Industries, fo r annual report, 1928. Boston, 1928, p. 5. (Typew ritten.)



should be brought under the minimum wage laws of the United
States. Home work is less extensive and its evils are less developed
in this country than elsewhere, but it does exist. An inquiry of the
Consumers’ League of Eastern Pennsylvania and of various childlabor organizations in the spring of 1924 showed that in 599 families
where children were illegally employed the family earnings in about
62 per cent of the cases were less than $6 a week.15 An inquiry in
Massachusetts under the joint direction of the Massachusetts JBureau
of Statistics and Miss Amy Hewes, in 1915,16 brought to light that
50 per cent of the home workers investigated earned less than 8 cents
an nour.
A committee appointed in 1925 by the Association of Governmental
Labor Officials of the United States and Canada reported at the 1926
meeting of the association that it had not given serious consideration
to the establishment of minimum wage legislation, expressly for home
workers, because of the constitutional difficulties. It recommended
that home workers should not be excluded from general minimum
wage provisions. The association approved these recommendations.17
In Massachusetts, home work is carried on in several industries
Covered by decrees, particularly in the manufacture of jewelry,
stationery, toys, games, sporting goods, and knit goods, and in the
garment trades.18 The assistant commissioner of labor states, how­
ever, that “ the decrees have never been applied to home workers,
although the rates for home work are generally much below those for
factory workers.” The result is a tendency to depress the factory
rates and to make more difficult the acceptance of the decrees. The
report states that nothing in the Massachusetts law prevents such
application and that the necessity of establishing piece rates, al­
though somewhat difficult, does not constitute a valid argument
against application of the law. The very fact that shop work and
home work are carried on in the same industry and that shop workers
are protected by fixed minimum wages and home workers are not,
creates irregular conditions of competition.
Even application of the above-cited resolution of the committee
of the Association of Governmental Labor Officials would imply
acceptance of the proposals of the assistant commissioner of labor foi
The only State from which an express minimum-wage order for
home work is reported is Wisconsin. The order was enacted in 1921.
An investigation showed that of 28 cases inspected 4 women de­
pended entirely on home work for subsistence and 9 depended partly
thereon. The board of health found that out of 166 cases examined
14 workers depended entirely upon home work for subsistence and
139 were partially dependent thereon.19 An investigation into the
increase of earnings after the minimum wage law was applied showed
that in the plant of a pearl-button company, for instance, wage
rates were raised from 6 cents an hour to a minimum of 22 cents;
18 Monthly Labor Review, January, 1927, p. 129.
ie Massachusetts. Bureau o f Statistics. Industrial Home W ork in Massachusetts.
Boston. 1915, p. 48.
17 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, April, 1927, p. 599.
18 “ Massachusetts Minimum Wage L a w : Recommendations and Outlook for the Future.”
Submitted by Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner. Massachusetts Department of
Labor and Industries, for annual report, 1928. Boston, 1928, p. 4. (Typew ritten.)
“ Frankfurter, F elix; Dewson, Mary W . ; and Commons, John R . : State Minimum Wag<Laws in Practice. New York, National Consumers’ League, 1924, p. 120.



in a concern making baby clothes, from 7, 12, and 19 cents an hour
to a minimum of 22 cents. The Industrial Commission of W is­
consin admits that its decree has contributed to keep an industry out
of the State. Prospective manufacturers petitioned the commission
for permission to employ home workers below the minimum wage in
the manufacture of hand-knitted wear for babies, to compete with
New York shops manufacturing the same article. The commission,
however, felt that it was in the public interest to exclude such
“ parasitic ” industries.20 The experience of Victoria (Australia)
also tends to show that home work has been restricted by elimination
of facilities to keep down production costs by wages below the gen­
eral average of industry. No tendency of so marked a degree is
reported from England. But the possibility of consequences simi­
lar to those in Victoria has to be faced when considering the advisa­
bility of extending American wage legislation to home-work trades.

Machinery of the Laws
The laws fixing a state-wide general minimum wage have proved to
be lacking in flexibility and have not given the same facility for
adaptation to change of conditions as other laws.21
The Industrial Welfare Commission of Oregon presents an orig­
inal feature, being composed of one representative of the public, one
representative of the employers, and one representative of the em­
ployees.22 Where the central commissions are simply part of the
bureaucratic system of the States, cooperation of employers and em­
ployees is guaranteed by public hearings and by conferences or boards
in the particular industries. A report of the Women’s Bureau of the
United States Department of Labor 28 shows that States where women
have served on the commissions have been the most active.

Regulations as to licenses to handicapped workers are practically
identical everywhere. More characteristic is the exemption provision
of the present Wisconsin law in favor of employers who show that
they can not maintain their industry if they pay the minimum wage.24
A similar rule exists in Massachusetts, but so far no employer has
applied for such exemption at the statehouse in Boston. In Wis­
consin it is stipulated expressly that exemptions may be granted only
if the inability to pay the wage is not caused by the inefficiency of the
employer. Even so, the rule is contrary to the policy of Australia—
that industries unable to pay the minimum wage should be dis­

Principle of Wage Fixation
The “ living wage” predominates as the principle used in wage
fixation. There are only two significant exceptions. In Massachu­
20 Frankfurter, F e lix ; Dewson, Mary W . ; and Commons, John R . : State Minimum W age
Laws in Practice. New York,. National Consumers’ League, 1924, p. 121.
a Letter from Carolyn I. Smith, secretary to the Utah Industrial Commission, dated Mar.
15, 1928.
M Oregon. Industrial W elfare Commission. Seventh biennial report, 1925-26. Salem,
1927, p. 3.
U. S. Department o f Labor. Women’s Bureau Rul. No. 6 1 : The development o f
minimum wage laws in the United States, 1912 to 1927.
24 American I# b o r Legislation Review, New York, December, 1925, p. 325.





setts the boards have to take into account, besides the needs of the
employees, “ the financial condition of the occupation and the prob­
able effect thereon of an increase in the minimum wages paid ” 26—
a combination of the principle of “ living wage ” and of the “ wage
the trade can bear.”
Wisconsin, in its original law of 1913, stated that the minimum
wage should be “ sufficient to enable the employee receiving it to
maintain himself or herself under conditions consistent with his or
her welfare.” 26 The amendment of 1925, enacted to meet the consti­
tutional difficulties, states: 27
No wage paid or agreed to be paid by an employer to any adult female shall
be oppressive. Any wage lower than a reasonable and adequate compensation
for the services rendered shall be deemed oppressive and is hereby prohibited.

Considered in conjunction with the authority given for exemption
of employers financially unable to meet the requirements, this rule
constitutes a combination of the “ living wage ” principle with the
principle of “ the wage the trade can bear.”
In Massachusetts in the men’s clothing and raincoat trade in
1917 the cost of living was estimated at $10 a week, while $9 was fixed
as the minimum wage.28 In the men’s furnishings trade the same
year the difference was greater— cost of living, $10.45; minimum
wage, $9. The cost of living for workers in the retail millinery trade
in 1918 was estimated at $11.64 while the minimum wage was $10.
These differences arose both from the stipulation of the law and from
the necessity, in the deliberations of the boards, of reaching com­
promises, but the differences are small. More hardship was created
through the fact that the rates remained behind the cost of living in
times of increasing prices. But that refers more to the period of
rapidly fluctuating prices during and immediately after the war than
to the present more stable conditions. While the Massachusetts law
has been criticized as not guaranteeing a real living wage, yet
improvement in conditions in recent years is admitted.2*

In Massachusetts the names of firms which do not pay the pre­
scribed minimum wage are published, in order to awaken public
opinion. That method proved more effective for shopkeepers, who
need the public good will, than for industries which resell to other
industries— for instance, paper-box manufacturers— or for super­
intendents of office buildings. From a very detailed study of the
number of violations in the different trades, Prof. Arthur F. Lucas30
concludes, however, that the total number of failures to comply with
the minimum wage reached only 3 or 4 per cent. He claims that en­
forcement was made rather too easy by the fact that only low rates
were prescribed. W e have already seen (above) to what extent
88 U. S. Bureau o f Labor Statistics Bui. No. 3 7 0 : Labor Laws o f the United States,
Washington, 1925, p. 527.
" Idem, p. 1143.
* American Labor Legislation Review, New York, December, 1925, p. 302.
** National Industrial Conference B o a r d : Minimum Wage Legislation in Massachusetts.
New York, 1927, p. 73.
® Idem, p. 104.
*° American Economic Review, New Haven, March, 1924, p. 4 0 : “ A recommendatory
minimum-wage la w : The first decade o f the Massachusetts experiment,” by Arthur
Fletcher Lucas.



minimum wages remained below the figures ascertained to be the cost
of living. But within its restricted limits the recommendatory law
has been operative.
Conditions in the States with mandatory laws have become some­
what similar, through the necessity of working in harmony with the
employers, in order to avoid appeals to the courts which might lead
to judgments declaring the laws to be unconstitutional. Even in
California, where application of the law, based on the outspoken
support of the principal employers’ associations, has been more
active than elsewhere, prosecutions seem to have been systematically
avoided. The industrial welfare commission states that during four
years 1,526 complaints have been filed with the commission, includ­
ing complaints on nonpayment of the minimum wage, bad working
conditions, and failure to provide a day of rest. These complaints
were all investigated and conditions adjusted to conform to the orders
of the commission.81 During the four years under consideration
about $36,000 of unpaid minimum wages were collected for the
workers* but no application of fines is mentioned. Careful inspec­
tion and regular audits enabled the commission to obtain these re­
sults, which show in a singular way the possibilities of law enforce­
ment without judicial pressure. Enforcement in other States was
really efficient and complete for minors only, as that part of the
law was not touched by the decisions of the courts.

obtain as complete and impartial a picture as possible of the
and disadvantages resulting from minimum wage
legislation, statistical, documentary, and testimonial evidence on the
various claims as to the results of such legislation in the United
States is here presented. It may be in the interest of clearness to
present separately the evidence as to advantages and disadvantages.
The claims made by the supporters of the legislation are in the main
the following: (1) Removal or lessening of unfair depression of
lowest wage levels of woman workers;32 (2) stimulation of efficiency
of employers and employees;83 (3) benefit to competitive employ­
ers;84 (4) influence toward industrial peace;86 (5) influence on
general increase of women’s wages and living standards.36
Other arguments have been advanced for such legislation; for
instance, that the raising of wromen’s wages will decrease their com­
petition with men; and that the requirement of higher wages for
minors will cause their replacement by adults and keep children
longer in school. The first of these seems identical with one of the
main arguments against the minimum wage— the fear that women
will lose their employment— and will be considered with such argu­
ments (see p. 55). No evidence has been produced to support the
claim as to the influence of the minimum wage on school attendance.
81 California. Industrial W elfare C om m ission: W hat California Has Done to Protect
the Women Workers. Sacramento, 1927, p. 12.
“ D istrict o f Columbia Minimum Wage Cases. B rief for Appellants. Supreme Court
o f the United States, October term, 1922. New York, 1923, p. 1.
M Idem, p. 301.
84 Idem, p. 334.
85 Idem, p. 362.
88 National Industrial Conference Board. Minimum Wage Legislation in M assachusetts
New York, 1927, p. 5.



The main claims as to disadvantages resulting from the law are:
(1) Higher wages will result in higher production costs and prices
and no greater real wages than before. This obviously combines two
entirely different claims: (a) That minimum wages increase costs of
production and prices; (6) that increases of prices will be so great as
to bring down real wages to the starting level. (2) Industries
burdened by minimum wage will be handicapped in interstate com­
petition and move away from the State. (3) Substandard workers
will lose their employment. (4) The minimum wages will become
the average or even maximum wages.

Removal of Unfair Depression of Lowest Wages of Female
The reports of officials administering minimum wage legislation
in the various States all give the same picture of the lowest wage
levels being materially raised by the wage orders. In the mercan­
tile industry of California the percentage of women and female
minors receiving wages under $16 a week has, under the influence
of the minimum wage order, decreased radically, while the percentage
of women receiving higher wages has increased correspondingly,87
as may be seen in Table 9.


9 .— M

i n im u m w a g e a n d t h e p e r c e n t o f w o m e n r e c e i v i n g e a c h c l a s s i f i e d
w a g e i n s p e c i f i e d i n d u s t r i e s i n C a l i f o r n i a , 1 9 1 9 ,1 9 2 0 , a n d 1922

Per cent of women and female minors (time workers) receiving—

Date of pay

$10 ....... Mar. 8,1919
$13.50— July 12,1919
$16......... Aug. 7,1920
$16......... Mar. 11,1922

ber of
estab­ Un­ and
lish­ der un­ and
ments $5 der der
$8 $10
1,336 4.3
1,605 4.0
1,710 j 3.1
2.543 1.7


Over ! $16
$10 $11
$13. 50. and
and and
un­ un­ $13.50 and un­
der der
under der
$11 $13. 50
$16 $17

8.3 10.2
7.3 5.8
3.5 2.5
1.7 1.4





and $30 To­
un­ and
der over tal

18.7 4.3 9.7 7.5
22.4 5.2 11.1 8.1
9.7 22.8 20.1 15.5
7.4 19.8 25.3 20.4




14.0 3.4 5.7 2.9
22.5 7.3 13.1 6.1
11.1 23.6 28.9 14.9
9.6 24.5 J30.8 jl4.9








$10......... May 24,1919
$13.50— Aug. 30,1919
$16......... Aug. 7,1920
$16........ Mar. 11,1922


6.2 11.9 14.8
3.4 3.3 5.5
2.4 2.3 1.6
2.1 2.3 1.7





$10......... Jan. 18,1919
$13.50— Sept. 20,1919
$16......... Oct. 2,1920
$16......... Mar. 11,1922



7.3 10.5 16.6 16.8
4.2 5.0 6.7 7.8
2.8 2.5 2.6 2.1
2.9 3.3 3.3 2.2



10.6 3.6 4.7 2.2
19.0 5.6 9.5 5.4
14.9 25.2 17.6 12.5
14.0 22.3 19.1 13.6

The above table shows the influence of the minimum wage on the
development of particular industries. Such influence on elimination
of sweating wages is general but not quite uniform. The slower per­
centage decrease in the low-wage groups in Wisconsin is shown in

California. Industrial W elfare Commission.
Sacramento, 1924, pp. 66, 98, 108.

and 1921-22.

Report for the biennial periods 1919-20



Table 10, giving, on the basis of inquiries covering from 32,000 to
56,000 female employees in Wisconsin, the proportion of women
receiving certain hourly wages in 1921 (the year of the wage award),
1922, and 1923:38
T able 1 0 .— P e r c e n t o f f e m a l e e m p l o y e e s i n W is c o n s i n r e c e i v i n g e a c h c l a s s i f i e d

h o u r l y w a g e , 1921 t o 1923

Per cent of women receiving
each classified wage

Hourly wage

Under 22 cents.......................... ................................... 1_______ _____
22 and under 25 cents_____________ ______ _______ _______________
25 and under 30 cents___________ ___ ____ ______________________
30 cents and over............................... ......................... ........................






In Massachusetts 9 out of every 10 female workers in laundries
inspected by the State officials in 1919 (a year when general wages,
particularly of organized workers, were high) received less than $13
a week. Four out of every five in retail stores worked for less than
$14 a week.39 Minimum rates of $13.50 and $14 improved these con­
ditions very radically. Miss Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commis­
sioner of labor, reports that “ in one retail store alone 180 women
received increases of $2 a week each as a result of the retail-store
decree. From the inspection returns for a group of stores in a single
city more than 1,300 women received weekly increases ranging from
around $1 to $4 a week, the majority receiving increases of $2 a week.”
The increase of wages in the major occupations of Massachusetts in
consequence of the wage orders is shown in Table 1 1 :40
T a b le 1 1 . — M

i n im u m w a g e r a t e s i n M a s s a c h u s e t t s a n d t h e p e r c e n t o f w o m e n
w h o s e e a r n in g s w e r e a b o v e , a t, a n d b e lo w t h e r a t e in s p e c ifie d y e a r s
Minimum wage

Laundry.............................—................... —

Rate set

Year ef­







Women’s clothing........................................








Retail stores.................................................

Date of
* 1924
* 1921

Per cent of women whose
earnings were—

At rate


* In cities o f over 10,000 population.
h Includes small towns and stores in larger cities not complying with decree at time o f
previous investigation.
e No data available.
d February.
0 November.
88 Frankfurter, F e lix ; Dewson, Mary W . ; and Commons, John R . : State Minimum Wage
Laws in Practice. New York, National Consumers’ League, 1924, p. 119.
89 “ Fifteen years o f minimum wage in Massachusetts,” by Ethel M. Johnson, assistant
commissioner, Department o f Labor and Industries o f Massachusetts. Boston, 1928, p. 8.
40 National Industrial Conference Board. Minimum Wage Legislation in Massachusetts.
New York, 1927, pp. 94. 95.



The development is practically the same everywhere. The rates
increase and the percentage of women earning less than the rates
decreases. The percentage, not only of women earning the rates, but
particularly of those earning more than the rates, increases.
The fifth report o*f the Industrial Welfare Commission of Cali­
fornia gives general figures for quite a number of years, based on
many thousand pay-roll reports in the mercantile, laundry, and
manufacturing industries,41 in which the increase of earnings above
the minimum Avage of $16 a week appears clearly. Figures from this
report are shown in Table 12:
12.— P e r c e n t o f w o m e n a n d o f l e a r n e r s i n m e r c a n t i l e , l a u n d r y , a n d
m a n u fa c t u r i n g i n d u s t r ie s in C a lifo r n ia r e c e i v i n g s p e c if i e d w a g e i n s p e c ifi e d
y e a r s , 1920 t o 1925

T able






Per cent
whose actual
weekly earn­
ings were $17
and over



Per cent
whose rates
of wages were
under $16 a

From the data shown in the preceding tables it may be concluded
that: (JL) The wage orders relieve the depression of the lowest
wage levels; (2) there is no tendency on the part of the employers
to reduce the wages of the better-paid employees to make up for
the increase of the lower levels, or to replace experienced workers
by lower-paid learners; (3) minimum wages tend in no way to
become standard or maximum wages, but help toward an increase
in general wages.

Effect on Efficiency and Industrial Relations
The effect of minimum wage on conditions in the industry may be
gathered from the following statements by representatives of em­
ployers’ associations.
Preston McKinney, vice president of the Canners’ League, of Cali­
fornia, makes the following statement: 42
The minimum wage has served to standardize the compensation paid by all
canners to their woman workers, and it has also served to keep the woman
workers contented, with the result that the canneries have operated with
the minimum of friction and discord.

Richard Neustadt, vice president and managing director of the
Retail Merchants’ Association of San Francisco, states48 that in
1920 the board of directors of that association passed strong resolu­
"C a lifo r n ia . Industrial
1, 1922, to June 30, 1924,
42 Letter dated Mar. 30,
48 Letter dated Mar. 26,

W elfare Commission. Report fo r the Biennial Periods July
and July 1, 1924, to June 30, 1926. Sacramento. 1926. p. 14.



tions approving the work of the State minimum wage commission,
and that the merchants are to-day of the same attitude of mind:
They are convinced that while the $16 a week minimum did slightly increase
the cost of operation, it was a cost that could properly, as readily, be passed
to the public and that it has accomplished the elimination of the necessity
of competition with the worst employer on his own grounds in a way that no
other method could accomplish. In other words, were there no law— with
competition as keen as it is— the merchants would be forced against their
own wishes to maintain the price levels of the least conscientious stores by
holding wages down to their level.
The law has had none of the effects feared by those who originally regarded
it as a radical venture. There has been no limitation on the earnings of the
better workers, nor, directly as a result of the law itself, any dismissal of
the poorer workers. * * * No business interests have suffered through
the existence of the law.

On behalf of the Merchants and Manufacturers5Association of Los
Angeles, Calif., Edgar R. Perry makes the following statement:44
It has been our observation that the minimum wage law for women has
been uniformly beneficial to business and industry in California. It has had
the support of this association from the beginning, and we have not observed
any serious conditions which would indicate the necessity for its repeal.

These statements seem to show that application of minimum wage
laws in cooperation with employers’ associations helps to standardize
industries and to eliminate unfair competition and contributes to the
maintenance of industrial peace.

Increases of Prices
Taking up the disadvantages claimed to result from the laws, it is
claimed first that there is an increase of prices. This is undoubtedly
true. While a certain part of the higher wages may be made up by
greater efficiency of the employees or by a reduction of the profit mar­
gin of the employers, it is obviously in the nature of things that the
greater part of the increase in wages is passed on to the public in the
shape of increased prices, as Mr. Neustadt, speaking for the Retail
Merchants’ Association of San Francisco, expressly states. In poor
countries such an increase of prices may necessitate serious thought,
but in the United States this does not seem to be a matter of great
importance. As to the contention that the higher prices will prevent
any increase in real wages of the beneficiaries of the laws, the dispro­
portion in the United States between the number of beneficiaries and
the general population makes it obvious that the increase of nominal
wages of such a small percentage of the American wage earners can
not possibly lead to such an increase of prices as to prevent an
advance of the real wages of the beneficiaries.

Effect on Interstate Competition
Another argument against minimum wage legislation is that of
injury to business— particularly the danger that industries working
under minimum wage awards may be handicapped in interstate com­
petition. While the restriction of the minimum wage to certain
States to the exclusion of others in the same customs area may render
“ Letter dated Mar. 20, 1928.



it somewhat difficult to increase the prices to the full extent of the
increasing wages, on the other hand, the increase in these wages con­
stitutes only a very small percentage in the cost of production in
important industries.
As to whether the minimum wage has created any serious hardship
to important industries the situation as reported by some of the
States having such a law is as follows:
The industries of Massachusetts employing women have since the
establishment of the minimum wage law in 1912 increased their in­
vested capital from $1,308,013,171 in 1912 to $2,853,590,206 in 1924.
The value of the product increased from $1,596,734,445 in 1912 to
$3,126,137,145 in 1924.45
The Industrial Welfare Commission of California, in its annual
report for 1922-1924 (p. 15), shows that the number of establishments
in the mercantile, laundry, and manufacturing industries of that
State increased nearly 100 per cent in six years, the figures being as


191 9
3, 077
192 0
1922____________________________ 4,350

192 3
192 4
192 5

_________________ 5,174
5, 597

The number of woman workers in these industries has increased
from 44,373 in 1919 to 76,566 in 1925. The Industrial Welfare
Commission concludes that industry has “ not been throttled in
The Industrial Commission of Wisconsin46 states that in home­
work manufacture industry was forced or kept out of the State (see
p. 48), but makes no similar observation for any other industry.
The statements of the representative employers’ associations of
California, quoted above, in general, do not indicate that business
has been handicapped in any serious way through the minimum wage.
A qualifying statement, however, is made on behalf of the Los
Angeles Chamber of Commerce, by S. C. Simons, manager of the
domestic trade department: 47
It is our opinion that the general level has been materially advanced by the
minimum wage law, although it has undoubtedly operated to retard or hamper
certain industries here.
The minimum wage law has been generally credited with being one of the
principal hurdles in the way of successful textile development here because of
the competition with other sections where this law is not in effect.

The conclusion follows that the minimum wage in States competing
with others which do not apply it creates a certain amount of diffi­
culty for particular industries, a difficulty, however, which does not
seem to be very considerable.

Loss of Employment by Slow Workers
The deduction that employers would dismiss employees whose
work is not valuable enough to justify the payment of the minimum
wage seems logical. The provision of practically all States that
45 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, January, 1928,
p. 2 7 : “ Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States,” by R. Broda.
46 Frankfurter, F e lix ; Dewson, Mary W .; and Commons, John R . : State Minimum Wage
Laws in Practice. New York, National Consumers’ League, 1924, p. 121.
" Letter dated Mar. 19, 1928.



licenses may be issued to aged or otherwise handicapped workers
eliminates, however, the main difficulty, and there remains only the
question whether the issuance of these licenses is broad enough to
meet all worthy cases.
Miss Ethel M. Johnson, assistant commissioner of labor of Massa­
chusetts, has stated that in that State there has been only a small
percentage of dismissals. In other cases workers could be put on
piece rates and the slow workers earning*less kept their jobs. From
the experience of Massachusetts, Minnesota, and the District of
Columbia it appears that discharges have happened but were not
Statements from the employers’ associations of California diverge
rather seriously on this point. Preston McKinney, the vice presi­
dent of the Canners’ League of California, says: 49
The canning industry operates under a pay-roll audit system which provides
that at least 50 per cent of the adult women working upon piece rates receive
not less than 33% cents an hour. Elderly and infirm canners are classed as
“ slow workers ” and work under permits issued by the industrial welfare com­
mission. These “ slow workers” are eliminated from the audit. Due to the
fact that most of the women employed in the canneries work on a piecework
scale, the more competent ones may earn more than the same class of workers
in other industries.

On the other hand, S. C. Simons, of the Los Angeles Chamber of
Commerce, makes the following statement: 50
We are informed that it has been necessary to dismiss a large number of slow
employees, frequently those who would be perfectly satisfied to work at a lower
wage than the minimum established.

Mrs. Catherine Philips Edson, chief of the division of industrial
welfare of California, states51 that slow workers have not become
unemployed because of the law, as the commission is generous in
meeting the demands of employers to employ these women at less
than the minimum wage. These demands, however, have not been
great, and the commission has been generally able “ by discretion
and a little persuasion ” to keep all such types of women employed.
Whether there are any who refuse employment to them because of age we
have no means of knowing, although no such complaint has ever been made
to us.
In the canning industry, which is the industry to which the largest number
of unskilled workers gravitate, we have a much larger number of slow workers
or “ infirm workers,” as we call them. We have a very elaborate system of
defining what is a fair minimum piece rate. It requires that a piece rate to be
fair must yield to 50 per cent of the woman workers not less than 33% cents
an hour. To prevent the nonemployment of these elderly and infirm workers
we give a permit to have them eliminated from the audit, so the audit is made
up of more nearly normal workers. However, if an adjustment is necessary to
make the piece rates yield 33% cents an hour to 50 per cent of the women
working upon it, that adjustment is given to the slow workers as well as to
the normal workers in the establishment.

In Wisconsin in 1923 863 establishments answered an inquiry
whether any minors and women had been discharged on account of
the minimum wage law, 37 firms answering “ yes,” and 826 answering
48 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, January,
p. 4 2 : “ Minimum Wage Legislation in the United States,” by R. Broda.
49 Letter dated Mar. 30, 1928.
“ Letter dated Mar. 19, 1928.
61 Letter dated Mar. 24, 192 8.






“ no.” 52 Replies to a similar inquiry undertaken in Massachusetts
in the same year, by the National Industrial Conference Board,
showed that of 7 knit-goods concerns and 17 concerns making minor
confectionery and miscellaneous food preparations not one had dis­
charged any women because of the minimum wage decrees.58 From
the evidence it appears that there have been discharges of slow work­
ers, but only to a very limited extent, and that no serious hardship
was created.
In general, it may be said that there have been no evil consequences
of any importance caused by American minimum wage legislation.
On the other hand, the positive influence of the legislation on the
relief of misery has not been very important either. Home work,
so far, has been generally left untouched by this legislation. Woman
workers living with their families were possibly not in great distress,
but serious hardship has been relieved among female workers living
alone. The evidence shows that that is true even in Massachusetts
(notwithstanding the fact that the law there does not give authority
to fix a living wage if that might lead to consequences detrimental
to industry), where enforcement was only partial on account of the
recommendatory nature of the law. In the States where the law is
of a mandatory character, and its principle that of the living wage,
particularly on the Pacific coast and especially in California, the
benefits to the workers appear to have been great, and many em­
ployers state that the law has been beneficial to their own interests.
62 Frankfurter, F e lix ; Dawson, Mary W .; and Commons, John R . : State Minimum Wage
Laws in Practice. New York, National Consumers* League, 1924. p. 122.
63 National Industrial Conference Board. Minimum W age Legislation in Massachusetts.
New York, 1927, p. 130.

Legislation for Settlement of Industrial Disputes
H E recent minimum wage legislation for Canadian women was
inspired, it has been said, more by the example across the
southern border than by that of Great Britain or Australasia.
But this does not apply to the first great Canadian experiment in the
field of State interference with industrial evils (although not in the
field of specific wage regulation), the law of 1907, instituting com­
missions of inquiry for the settlement of conflicts in public utilities
services. The act was declared unconstitutional in January, 1925, by
decision of the House of Lords, acting for the British Empire; the
Dominion was declared incompetent to enact laws on these matters,
which are reserved to the provincial authorities. But since that time
new laws have been passed concurrently by the Federal Parliament
and by several provincial legislatures to reestablish application of the
provisions of the 1907 law.1 Under that law both parties are com­
pelled to postpone a strike or lockout until publication of the commis­
sion’s report. Public opinion is thereby enabled to exercise its influ­
ence against the party to the conflict which might be inclined to resist
the decision.2 Strikes have been greatly restricted; more so, how­
ever, during the first 10 years than later. There were strikes in 1918
and 1919 in railway services covered by the law.8
Compulsory arbitration in New Zealand and the above-cited
Canadian act have for a long time been considered by many as
superior to minimum wage administration by wage boards, it being
frequently argued that only arbitration or inquiry methods are
applicable to industries with strong trade-unions, though Victoria
had included these industries in the scope of its wages boards legisla­
tion. The Canadian experiment retains, therefore, its importance for
any comparison of minimum wage legislation.
The Province of Nova Scotia endeavored, after a strike in the coal­
mining industry of the Province, to go beyond the scope of the gen­
eral law and to establish compulsory arbitration in services of public
necessity, but the law was repealed on March 15, 1926, by a new law
respecting the investigation of industrial disputes within the Prov­
ince.4 The new act legalizes for the Province the provisions of the
Dominion act of 1907 as to investigation of industrial disputes.


1 Labor Legislation in Canada, 1926. Ottawa, 1927. p. 6.
2 See Broda, R . : La Fixation L6gale des Salaires. Paris, 1912, ch. 13.
8 Broda, R . : Les R6sultats de 1’ Application du Salaire Minimum Pendant et depuis
Guerre. Bern, 1921.
4 L etter from the Deputy Provincial Secretary o f Nova Scotia, dated Mar. 21, 1928.





Minimum Wage Legislation
Beginnings and Development
P R O M entirely different motives and from entirely different exam­
ples has sprung up, since 1917, minimum wage legislation for
women in various Canadian Provinces. Such laws have been passed
in Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta,
and British Columbia. Women alone are protected, except in Brit­
ish Columbia and Alberta.
The Province of Alberta provided in 1917 for the appointment of
an advisory committee to propose minimum wages for females and
minors. The lieutenant governor is authorized on the basis of that
information to issue one or several minimum wage orders for the
The Province of British Columbia established in 1918 a minimum
wage board of three members, one of them the deputy minister of
labor and the other two to be appointed by the lieutenant governor
of the Province. The board was empowered to call conferences of
representatives of employers, of employees, and of the public for in­
dustries where female workers are employed at unduly low wages.
The board may ask for recommendations from these conferences as to
proper minimum wages, and then fix such minimum wages as it
deems fit.6
The Province of Manitoba in 1918, made provision fot a minimum
wage board, composed of two representatives of employers, two
representatives of employees, and one disinterested person, all to be
appointed by the lieutenant governor of the Province. The board is
authorized to issue minimum wages for female workers.7
The Province of Saskatchewan also provided for the fixation of
minimum wages.8 Nova Scotia took the same step 9 but omitted to
appoint a minimum wage board. There are no minimum wage
provisions in force in that Province.10 Ontario promulgated in
1920 a minimum wage act.11 The minimum wage board of that
Province may take the advice of representatives of employers and
of employees but remains free to establish minimum wages for
female employees of the Province as it deems fit. In practice the
wage board has established cost-of-living budgets as the main
basis of its orders.12 The Province of Quebec enacted in 1919 a
women’s minimum wage act.13 That legislation, however, was
effectively applied only in 1926.
8 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31.
1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 648.
6 Idem, p. 791. A law o f 1919 (idem, p. 720) provided fo r the establishment o f a coal
miners’ minimum wage board, but that board has not actually operated.
7 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31.
1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 513.
8 Idem, p. 575.
»Idem , p. 234.
10 Letter from Prof. S. H. Prince, o f Dalhousie University, H alifax, dated Mar. 24,
u Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31,
1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 448.
12Canada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board. F ifth annual report, 1925. Toronto.
1926, p. 6.
13 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31,
1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 331.

109931°— 28------ 5



In 1922 the Province of New Brunswick prescribed minimum
salaries for school teachers.14 Different rates were determined for
different districts, the rates to include the minimum income the
teacher has to earn from all sources, including the Government grant
to teachers. In 1923 minimum wage legislation was in force in
Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, and Saskatchewan.
No proclamation was issued for putting into force the Nova Scotia
act for 1920 and no commission was appointed under the Quebec
act.15 In 1924 Nova Scotia replaced its inoperative minimum wage
act of 1920, applicable to factories and shops, by a new act applicable
to all female occupations, but no board was actually established.10
In 1925 British Columbia 17 passed a minimum wage act for male
employees for all trades except farm laborers, fruit pickers and
packers, fruit and vegetable canners, and domestic servants.
The application of the act was not intrusted to the minimum wage
board for women but to a board of adjustment constituted under an
act of 1923 for taking care of reduction of working hours. Em­
ployers who violate the provisions of the act are punished by fines
and also have to pay to the worker the difference between the mini­
mum wage and the wage paid. In 1926 the Province of Alberta
enacted a law that male workers shall not be employed at lower wages
than the minimum wages for female employees in the same trade.18
Principle of Wage Fixation
The majority of the Canadian Provinces apply the “ living-wage ”
principle, either expressly or in an implied way. Manitoba falls into
the first group and empowers its board to declare minimum wages
44 adequate to supply the necessary cost of living to employees and
maintain them in health.” 19 Quebec falls into the seconct group.
The law states that the commission intrusted with the application of
the act is to intervene if it is of the opinion that “ the wages or
salaries paid in an industrial establishment coming within the pur­
view of this act are insufficient.” 20 In Ontario no instructions as to
the basis of wage fixation are given by the law, except a similar pro­
vision that the board may act if wages paid to any class of employees
are “ inadequate or unfair.” But the board may, after verification,
act as it deems fit. The principle of entire freedom for +he board
holds in the case of the male workers in British Columbia.21 Rather
radical viewpoints are reported from that Province. The wage board
for female employees argues 22 that enterprises which are unable to
14 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor legislation in Canada for tlie calendar year
1922. Ottawa, 1923, p. 12.
15 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada, 1923. Ottawa, 1924,
p. 9.
16 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada, 1924. Ottawa.
1925,, p. 9.
17 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada, 1925. Ottawa,
1926. p. 10.
18 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada, 1926. Ottawa,
1927, p. 9.
19 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31,
1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 513.
20 Idem. p. 382.
21 Canada. Department o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada, 1925. Ottawa, 1926,
p. 54.
22 Canada (British Columbia). Department o f Labor. Annual report for 1919. V ic­
toria, 1920, p. 86.



pay legitimate wages frequently have come to that point because they
are badly administered. Attempts to make up for such a situation by
underpayment of workers are rejected as “ hopeless.”

Administrative Provisions
In Ontario 79 permits were in force in 1926— 53 for handicapped
workers, 24 for others, and 2 for special apprentices.23 Another
method for preventing the discharging of slow workers consists in the
provision that the law is considered as fulfilled if 80 per cent of the
workers working at piece rates earn the minimum rates for time-work
provided by the law. Slow workers are guaranteed the same piece
rates, but since they earn less, if they work more slowly, there is no
reason for the employer to discharge them.
Home work has not yet been touched by the new legislation, but in
its report for 1922 the Wage Board of Ontario promised to turn its
attention in this direction, recognizing that home work is increasing in
the large cities. So far only the regulations for sanitation tend to
protect home workers.24 Employers who pay wages lower than those
fixed by the board are liable to be fined.25

Application of the Laws
While Nova Scotia has not yet implemented its law by the appoint­
ment of a minimum wage boarcL26 the laws of Ontario, Manitoba,
Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Colombia, and since 1927 also that
of Quebec, are being fulty applied. The Ontario board collects each
year from all factories and many other firms wage sheets for their
‘ female employees.27 These wage sheets furnish the proof as to the
payment of minimum wages. Forty-two orders had been made up to
the end of 1926. Most of them distinguished between wages in
Toronto, where costs of living are particularly high and where mini­
mum wages of $12 or $12.50 are prescribed, and other cities and rural
communities, where minimum wages from $12 down to $8 are estab­
lished. Maximum percentages for employment of inexperienced em­
ployees are also stipulated. Order No. 26, for instance, prescribes
that not more than 25 per cent of such inexperienced women or young
girls shall be employed.28
The Minimum Wage Board of Manitoba reports that, acting on
practical complaints from the hotel industries, it issued new regula­
tions for that trade.29 All in all, 13 employers have been prosecuted
for nonpayment of wages and conviction was obtained in all cases.
Thirty-nine other claims for wages were adjusted without prosecu28Canada (O n tario). Minimum W age Board. Sixth annual report, 1926. Toronto,
1927, p. 37.
34 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, April, 1924, p. 53 2:
“ Minimum wage legislation in Canada,” by J. W. Macmillan, chairman o f Minimum Wage
Board o f Ontario.
25 F or instance, by stipulation o f article 22 o f the Ontario la w : Canada.
o f Labor. Labor Legislation in Canada as existing Dec. 31, 1920. Ottawa, 1921, p. 449.
20 Letter from Prof. S. H. Prince, o f Dalhousie University, Halifax, dated Mar. 24. 1928.
27 Canada (Ontario). Minimum Wage Board. Sixth annual report, 1926. Toronto,
1927, p. 36.
^C anada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board. Orders regarding the employment of
women in the Province o f Ontario. Toronto, 1926, p.. 12.
29 Canada (M anitoba). Bureau o f Labor. Eleventh annual report, May 1, 1925, to
Apr. 30, 1926. Winnipeg, 1927, p. 5.



tion. Procedure was equally empirical for problems of a tangible
nature in the Province of Alberta. The minimum wage board re­
ports 30 that requests and decisions as regards overtime, apprentices,
etc., made necessary only one meeting of the board in the year. One
application was received for an employee to work at lower than fixed
rates and the application was granted. Application of the law in the
Province of Quebec was begun in 1926 by dividing the Province into
several zones, in accordance with the differences in the costs of living.
The first order (laundries) was issued in November, 1926.31
British Columbia has remained the pioneer Province of compre­
hensive minimum wage legislation. Minimum wages for female
workers were applied in 1925 in nine industries. The minimum wage
act of 1925 for males was first applied in the lumber industry, an
order being issued fixing a minimum wage of 40 cents per hour, to be
effective November, 1926.32 The order was sustained by the court of
appeal on December 2, 1926.83 It meant an increase of pay for 24
per cent of the workers in the industry, according to figures available
to the board.® An order for the catering industry, fixing minimum
wages of 40 cents per hour for straight shifts and 4 2 ^ cents per
hour for split shifts, went into force on April 1, 1928.& Many
Chinese are employed in this industry and the intention is
“ to fix a rate that will make it possible for white labor to be
employed, and in this way reduce the number of Asiatics.0 ” This
order is the only one to introduce into legislation on the American
continent a motive which plays a decisive role in the minimum-wage
legislation of South Africa (see ch. 8) and has been of importance
also in the legislation of Australia (see ch. 3) as a protection of
white labor against cheap colored labor and (unlike, of course, South
Africa) as a partial substitute for prohibition of immigration of*
laborers liable to endanger the wages and standards of living of the
native-born workers of the country.
The House of Commons of Canada passed in March, 1926, a reso­
lution in favor of a legal minimum wage based on a reasonable
standard of living. The resolution was referred to its Select Stand­
ing Committee on Industrial and International Relations.34 The
committee recommended a conference of representatives of the Do­
minion and of the Provinces to consider methods of putting this
resolution into effect, particularly as it is in accord with the social
provisions of the peace treaties. The report stated that the minimum
wage legislation for women has worked out satisfactorily and pleads
for its extension to some classes of men.
80 Canada (A lberta). Bureau o f Labor. Annual report for the year 1926. Edmon­
ton, 1927, p. 15.
81 Canada (Quebec). Department o f Public W orks and Labor. General report for the
year ending June 30, 1927. Quebec, 1927, p. 131.
82 Monthly Labor Review. September, 1926, p. 35.
83 Idem, April, 1927, p. 31.
34 Canada. Parliament. House o f Commons. Select Standing Committee on Industrial
and International Relations. Minutes o f proceedings and evidence, session 1926. Ottawa,
1926, x, 122 pp.
"P ro v in ce o i British Columbia. Annual Report o f the Department o f Labor for the
year ended Dec. 31, 1926, p. 41.
•The government o f the Province o f British Columbia male minimum wage act order
establishing a minimum wage in the catering industry.
c Letter from the general superintendent, British Columbia office, Employment Service
o f Canada.



p* X P E R IE N C E S of the Canadian Provinces as a whole elucidate
various questions connected with the results of minimum wage
laws, but the experience of the different Provinces is not equally in­
structive. The application of the law in Quebec is of too recent a
nature, and application in the prairie Provinces (as we have seen
above) is too empirical and sporadic, to shed light on complicated
problems. The most instructive experience is that of British Colum­
bia where the law has been consistently applied for 10 years and that
of Ontario which refers to highly diversified industry and conditions
of advanced civilization.

Effect on General Level of Wages
The report of the Minimum Wage Board of Ontario for 1925 states
that in 1920 a fifth of the women employed in several industries
earned less than $6 a week. Such conditions have been entirely
eliminated. Not only have the lowest wages been raised, but also the
wages of the skilled employees. “ The underpinning of the basic
wages has strengthened the entire column of the wage sheet” (p. 5).
The report of the minimum wage board for 1926 (p. 5) states that a
big charitable institution in Toronto where girls unable to pay com­
mercial rates of board were living had to be closed as they no longer
needed such help.
Not only did the wage increases up to the amount of the minimum
wage orders but the increase was important also in the higher earn­
ings of the more skilled employees. Employers obviously had an in­
terest in paying somewhat more for a skilled employee than just the
minimum for a slower employee. The minimum had in no way
tended to become the maximum. These results are shown in the
following figures as to wages in retail and department stores and
textile factories under minimum wage orders:
O r d e r N o. 6.— R e t a i l s t o r e s i n c i t t e s o f 80,000 o r o v e r ( e x c e p t T o r o n t o )*
Number of women reported as earning per week:
Under $ 7 ________________________________________________
$7 and under $8---------------------------------------------------------------$8 and under $9__________________________________________
$9 and under $10-------------------------------------------------------------$10 and under $11_______________________________________
$11 and under $12_______________________________________
$12 and under $13_______________________________________
$13 and under $14-----------------------------------------------------------$14 and under $15_______________________________________
$15 and under $16-----------------------------------------------------------$16 and under $18_______________________________________
$18 and under $20------------------------------------------------------------$20 and under $22_______________________________________
$22 and over_____________________________________________



Total______________________________________________ 1,123
88 Canada (O ntario).
1927, p. 9.

Minimum Wage Board.


Sixth annual report, 1926.




The minimum wage prescribed by order No. 6 for experienced
female employees of 18 years or over was $12 per week.38 The num­
ber of women earning that amount about doubled, but there were
large increases also among the women earning higher salaries.
O r d e r N o. 29.— D e p a r t m e n t s t o r e s i n T o r o n t o h a v i n g m o r e t h a n 150 e m p l o y e e s "
Number of women reported as earning per week:
Under $ 7 _______________________________________________________
$7 and under $8---------------------------------------------------------------10
$8 and under $9_________________________________________
$9 and under $10_______________________________________
$10 and under $11_______________________________________
$11 and under $12_______________________________________
$12 and under $13_______________________________________
$13 and under $14-----------------------------------------------------------324
$14 and under $15_______________________________________
$15 and under $16_______________________________________
$16 and under $18_______________________________________
$18 and under $20_______________________________________
$20 and under $22_______________________________________
$22 and over--------------------------------------------------------------------107
Total______________________________________________ 2, 782

3, 430

Order 29 prescribed a minimum wage for experienced female em­
ployees of 18 years or over of $12.50.38 The number of women earning
the ranges of wages not touched directly by the order increased to
a considerable extent.
O r d e r N o. 1%.— T e x t i l e f a c t o r i e s i n c i t i e s o f 80,000 o r o v e r ( e x c e p t T o r o n t o ) 39
Number of women reported as earning per week:
Under $ 7 _________________________________________________
$7 and under $8___________________________________________
$8 and under $9_________________________________________
$9 and under $10-------------------------------------------------------------$10 and under $11_______________________________________
$11 and under $12_______________________________________
$12 and under $13_________________________________________
$13 and under $14________________________________________
$14 and under $15________________________________________
$15 and under $16_________________________________________
$16 and under $18_______________________________________
$18 and under $20________________________________________
$20 and under $22_________________________________________
$22 and over_________________________ _____________________





Total____________________________________________ 2,173


Order No. 14 prescribed a minimum wage of $11.50.40 The greatest
increase was for the range between $15 and $16 per week, $4 above the
minimum prescribed by the board.
The fear that the minimum might become the maximum has been
entirely disproved by the actual experience.
^C anada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board.
women in the Province o f Ontario.
87Canada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board.
1927, p. 11.
^ C anada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board.
women in the Province o f Ontario.
39 Canada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board.
1927, p. 12.
40 Canada (O ntario). Minimum Wage Board.
women in the Province o f Ontario.

Orders regarding the employment o f
Toronto, 1926, p. 4.
Sixth annual report, 1926. Toronto,
Orders regarding the employment of
Toronto, 1926, p. 6.
Sixth annual report, 1926. Toronto,
Orders regarding the employment o f
Toronto, 1926, pp. 8, 9.



The report of the Minimum Wage Board of the Province of
Saskatchewan for the 12 months ending April 30,1927 (p. 44), agrees
with the experience of Ontario. Of 314 female employees in laundries
and factories 84 received more than the minimum rate, while of 333
employees in mail-order houses 228 received more than the minimum.
In hotels and restaurants, 382 out of 6§2 employees received wages
above the minimum. From these figures the wage board concludes
that the fear that the highest paid workers might be reduced to
equalize the additional wages paid to the lower paid workers has
been disproved by experience.
The Department of Labor of the Province of British Columbia
states in its annual report for the year 1919 (p. 85) that the fear
that the minimum wage might become the maximum has proved
groundless, since “ more than an average of $2 a week per employee
is being paid over and above the legal minimum.” In 1926 the
average paid was $17.05, while the minimum wages ranged from
$12.75 to $15.50. Taking $14 as the average of the rates estab­
lished by the orders, the wages actually paid exceeded the minimum
by $3. The margin has increased considerably. The report for
1919 (p. 85) states also that the “ constantly reiterated assertion
that a greater number of girls under 18 years of age were being
employed since the introduction of the minimum wage appears also
to be disproved by a comparison of the returns, which indicates
practically no change.” The same report states that coupled with
the general rise in wages “ there is a perceptible decrease in the hours
of labor.”

Influences on Discharges and General Conditions of Employment
There have been some discharges of women in Ontario who were
considered not worth the minimum by their employers, but these
women have generally been able to get employment in another occu­
pation and there to earn more than the minimum, by putting more
energy into their work.41 The chairman of the Minimum Wage Board
of Ontario, J. W . Macmillan,42 states that there has been no deleterious
effect on employment, and also that the law has tended to reduce the
hours of work and to improve the relations between employers and

Increase of Efficiency
The Department of Labor of British Columbia states in its annual
report for the year 1919 (p. 85) that many employers had bettered
their methods of work; they “ became more careful in the selection of
new hands and demanded greater efficiency not only from these but
from their executives and heads of departments.”

Influence on Industrial Peace
In the conferences of the Minimum Wage Board of Ontario with
the employers the right of every employee to a living from his own
41 Letter from Prof. J. G. Jackson, o f the Department o f Political Science, University
o f Toronto, dated Mar. 16, 1928.
43 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geaeva, Apr., 1924, p. 50 7:
“ Minimum Wage Legislation in Canada,” by J. W. Macmillan.



work has been admitted by all. Employers were much impressed by
the declarations of other big employers of high standing, which
defended that point of view and were either eager to show that their
own wages were in agreement with that general principle or else that
they-would try to adjust them accordingly. The legal department of
the employers’ associations helped in the framing of the act.48

Public Opinion
Professor Mackintosh, of the department of commerce of Queens
University, states44 that “ there is widespread satisfaction with the
operation of minimum wage laws in Canadian Provinces.” Profes­
sor Jackson, of the University of Toronto, states 45 that the Minimum
Wage Board of Ontario has “ functioned successfully.”
Questions have been raised as to the degree of obedience to its orders on the
part of certain individual firms. There are labor men in this Province who
would tell you that there is a good deal of evasion. I have followed carefully
the only public hearing of this question which there has been and have gone into
the matter personally with the chairman of the minimum wage board, Doctor
Macmillan, and his staff, and have come to the conclusion that this complaint
is not well founded.

The resolution of the Canadian House of Commons in March, 1926
(see p. 62), received its impetus from the satisfaction as to the appli­
cation of the minimum wage laws.
Summing up the Canadian minimum wage legislation it appears
that such legislation has eliminated sweating of female employees,
helped skilled employees further to increase their wages, has not led
to any serious unemployment, and has been a factor for industrial
peace and for greater efficiency in industry. There are no apparent
efforts from responsible quarters opposing its maintenance or the
extension of the legislation from women’s to men’s trades. The
latter development began in British Columbia and is on the point of
being extended by efforts of the Federal Parliament. Canada follows
the same general trend which has manifested itself in her sister
dominions, Australia and New Zealand, toward minimum wages for
all workers.
43 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, April, 19 24: “ Mini­
mum wage legislation in Canada,” by J. W. Macmillan.
^ L e tte r dated Mar. 23, 1928.
« Letter dated Mar. 16, 1928.

Development and Coverage
H E Union of South Africa has since 1918 followed the example
set 30 years ago by Australia and later by Great Britain. An
act was passed in 1918 providing for the establishment of wage
boards to regulate wages of women and minors *in certain trades.1
The Minister of Labor was authorized to establish the boards, each
composed of representatives of employers and employees in equal
numbers, under an impartial chairman, such representatives to be
chosen in consultation with employers’ and employees5 organizations.
Twenty-one boards were functioning in 1923. The application of the
law, however, encountered several difficulties.2 The representatives
proposed by the employees were frequently unsatisfactory. Em­
ployers discriminated against employees chosen as members of the
boards. In 1925, there were only 14 wage boards in existence.1 An
industrial conciliation act was passed in 1924 for organized trades to
facilitate agreements between employers and employees and the settle­
ment of disputes.8 As a counterpart for unorganized or less organ­
ized trades, an act for the legal fixation of minimum wages was passed
by the Union Parliament in 1925 called the “ wage act 1925,” to sup­
plement the law of 1918 for women and minors.2
Agricultural and forestry workers, domestic servants, and railway
employees are exempted from the law, and also employers and em­
ployees covered by collective agreements or awards under the abovementioned industrial conciliation act, on condition that the wages
fixed by these agreements or awards are at least equal to the mini­
mum wage to be fixed under the wage act for the same trade and
area. (Art. 1.) By this last provision preference is given to col­
lective bargaining over legal fixation of minimum wages.


Machinery of Wage Fixing and Enforcement
T H E Governor General is empowered to appoint a wage board
of three members, which for specific investigations may be en­
larged by two more members— representatives of employers and of
employees. (Wage act 1925, art. 2.)
Either the Minister of Labor, trade-unions, employers’ associations,
or, in case no registered employees’ or employers’ association exists,
a number of employees or of employers deemed by the board to be
1 Union o f South A frica. Office o f Census and Statistics. Official Year Book o f the
Union, 1925. Pretoria, 1927, p. 241.
2 Union o f South Africa. Department o f Labor. The South A frican Labor Gazette,
Pretoria, October, 1925, p. 189.
8 Union o f South Africa. Department o f Labor. The Social and Industrial Review,
November, 1927, p. 3 9 6 : " Principles o f industrial legislation,” by A. T. Roberts.




sufficiently representative of their class can take the initiative and
request the board to investigate conditions in a given industry, and
to make recommendations as to minimum wages. (Art. 3.) The
final decision is with the Minister of Labor or other minister desig­
nated by the Governor General. The minister can not, however,
fix rates contrary to those determined by the majority of the board.
(Arts. 7 and 18.) The proposed determination must be published
in the press, in order to enable any interested party to formulate
objections. (Art. 7.) I f such objections are formulated by repre­
sentative parties, the board may be instructed by the minister to make
a new report, as a basis for the final decision of the minister.
(Art. 7.) Exemptions from the minimum wage may be granted for
persons suffering from physical disability, who are capable of doing
only part of the work required of an able-bodied person (art. 10b) or
when the minister' feels that for special reasons such exemptions are
in the interest of the employees concerned (art. 10c).
The inspectors of factories and special officers appointed under
the act enforce the provisions of the law. (Art. 11.) Employers are
bound to pay the minimum rates fixed by the board and are fined
up to £100 in case of violation of this rule. Agreements between the
parties contrary to the determinations of the minister are void.
(Art. 8.)

Principle of Wage Fixation
wage act 1925, instructs the board (art. 3, subsec. 2) to
take into consideration three major points— conditions in the
trade, burdens the trade can bear, and cost of living in the area.
The law had, however, to take into account a side of South African
conditions which is utterly different from that in all other
countries of the world— the wide gap which exists between
the wages of skilled white workers and those of unskilled black
workers. The report of a commission instituted to investigate these
problems 4 gives extraordinary data in that respect. For the miners
at Witwatersrand working underground the average wage per shift
for adult European males is 23s. 8d.; the average wage for native
underground workers at the same place is only 2s. 3d. per shift.
The wages of unskilled 46colored ” (mulattoes) workers in towns
range from 3s. to 5s. per day. This discrepancy seems to have been
a major consideration for the passing of the act. [Compare the
more limited, yet clearly marked, parallel tendency to use minimum
wage legislation as a protection of white workers against competi­
tion of low-paid colored workers in Victoria, Australia (see ch.
3), and in British Columbia, Canada (see ch. 7).] Employers ob­
viously were and are tempted to replace white workers by semiskilled
blacks because of the immense economy in labor costs. When, how­
ever, a wage minimum sufficient to attract white workers was estab­
lished for a trade, employers were inclined to employ whites. The
tendency of the act, therefore, seems to be to create two groups of
employment— guaranteed well-paid employment for white workers
and lower-paid employment for black and colored workers. These
4 Union o f South Africa.
Town, 1926, pp. 257, 263.

Economic and W age Commission






facts have to be kept in mind to understand the following provision
(art. 3, subsec. 3) of the act:
When in the course of any investigation under this section the board, having
regard to any consideration mentioned in subsection (2), finds that it can not
recommend in respect of the employees in any trade or section thereof a
wage or rate upon which such employees may be able to support themselves
in accordance with civilized habits of life, it shall make no recommendation
in regard to such wages or rates but shall report to the minister on the con­
ditions in such trade and the reasons for its decision. On consideration of such
report the minister may direct the board to make such recommendation as it
may deem fit.

The principle of wage fixation for those trades and skilled em­
ployments which can support high wages is therefore mainly “ a
living wage ” in accordance with civilized standards of life. Trades
and occupations unsuited to be paid such a wage are to be left to
black and colored workers, and no living wage calculated by civilized
standards is to be fixed.
But even for these trades minimum wages can be fixed if the minis­
ter deems fit. He is given a free hand in that respect. (Art. 3,
subsec. 3.) Far-seeing circles in South Africa are well aware of the
danger to the general welfare which may result from the coexistence
of widely different standards of labor and from the low purchasing
power of the majority of the workers. They desire that the wage
act reduce the gap between wages for skilled white and unskilled
black and colored workers.5 They also desire it in order to prevent
white men who are not skilled enough to earn the high wages of
skilled white workers from falling to the bottom. They want to
establish for that purpose intermediary grades. That aim is facili­
tated by the fact that the act only indirectly and not specifically dis­
tinguishes between the wages for white and black workers. The
wage board in its first decision, in connection with an application as
to unskilled laborers in the Orange Free State, refused expressly to
consider any distinctions of color or race. It stated that its duty
under the act was to assess the value of the work and to recommend
a wage in accordance with that value.6 In the same spirit the
Minister of Posts and Telegraphs defended on May 17 in the South
African Parliament the payment of 8s. to unskilled laborers for an
8-hour day. He explained it to be his policy that payment be made
for work and not for color.7

Application of the Act
THHE wage act 1925 went into effect on February 12, 1926, and a
wage board of three members was appointed on that date.8
The opposition to the act centered mainly on the feature of legal
compulsion, and the wage board, to meet that objection, emphasized
from the beginning its preference for voluntary effort— that is, for
free agreements under the conciliation act— so far as feasible. F. A.
6 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, March, 1926, pp.
3 3 6 -3 3 9 : “ The new wage act in South A frica.”
6 Union o f South Africa. Department o f Labor. Social and Industrial Review. Pre­
toria, December, 1927, p. 5 1 8 : “ Principles o f industrial legislation,” by A. T. Roberts.
7 International Labor Office. Industrial and Labor Inform ation, Geneva, July 11, 1927,
p. 41.
8 Union o f South A frica. Department o f Labor. Social and Industrial Review, Pretoria,
November, 1927, p. 399,



W . Lucas, chairman of the board, stated that policy to a gathering of
the representatives of the Cape clothing industry,9 and explained
that the department of labor would welcome the formation of an
industrial council.
The first recommendations were published in July, 1926, and met
with some objections from the commercial world. Some provisions
were not understood, but the board was able, in conference with the
objectors, to discuss in detail the determinations and to remove many
misunderstandings.10 The first industries for which recommenda­
tions were made were various branches of the candy industry, the
clothing industry, and the baking industry. Diversified rates were
promulgated for various operations and provisional recommendations
made in September, 1926,11 which led to final recommendations for
the candy and baking industries on May 6 and 20,1927, respectively,12
but they were made effective only for that part of the country where
no industrial council could be established.13 The board had to con­
tend also with the disparity between wages in different parts of the
country and attempted to solve the difficulty by allowing for centers
with low wages a reasonable period of adjustment.14 The board also
found it useful to promulgate ascending scales of wages based on
length of experience in the industry in order to give an incentive to
employees to do their best and thereby avoid dismissal before attain­
ment of the higher grades of wages.15 The board endeavors, particu­
larly, to decrease the gap between skilled and unskilled employees.
In the biscuit industry, for instance, it recommended for biscuit
makers £6 per week, for ovenmen and brakemen £4 Is., and for their
assistants £2 2s. 6d., while theretofore the wages of ovenmen and
brakemen had been much lower. A biscuit maker who can not
obtain employment in his line may be enabled thereby to find work
as an ovenman at a reasonable wage.15 The specific provisions of
the act (art. 7) as to objections to provisional determinations of the
board came into play, for instance, in the procedure relating to the
leather industry in June, 1927. The wages board amended somewhat
its original proposals to meet to a certain extent the objections formu­
lated.16 More difficult was the situation in the hat and cap industry
and certain groups of clothing manufacture. The board heard rep­
resentatives of manufacturers who raised objections and was satisfied
that there would probably soon be set up an industrial council for
the clothing industry. It agreed to postpone its final determination
on condition that an industrial council agreement be submitted for
the approval of the board by March 15,1927, but decided to make an
interim recommendation. This recommendation was published as a
determination on December 30, 1926, but was invalidated by judg­
ment of the Transvaal provincial division of the supreme court on
April 25, 1927.17 The effect of the judgment was to invalidate the
determination in respect of the sweet manufacturing, clothing, bak­
9 Union o f South Africa. Department o f Labor.
ria, July, 1927, p. 72.
10 Idem, December, 1927, p. 517.
11 Idem, special ed., September, 1926.
12 Idem, July, 1927, p. 69.
18 Idem, November, 1927, p. 452.
14 Idem, December, 1927, p. 518.
1BIdem, December, 1927, p. 519.
19 Idem, second special ed., June, 1927.
lT Idem, first special ed., November, 1927, p. 81.

Social and Industrial Review, Pre-



ing, and confectionery industries. The judgment is based on the
ground that the procedure laid down by sections 5 and 7 (i. e., time
limits for publication of determinations in the press) was not
complied with.18 The judgment, based on these technical points,
does not foreshadow any steps against the law itself on grounds of

General Conclusions
'T 'H E procedure under wage act 1925 is still in its formative
period. The experience obtained so far emphasizes, however,
the flexible nature of the legislative provisions, which adapt them­
selves to different stages of organization of industry. Sweated and
entirely unorganized trades are provided for by boards consisting
of appointed officers only. Where there are rudimentary tradeunions their delegates are added to the board; where the trade-unions
are fairly strong they can cooperate further by requesting the board
to issue minimum-wage legislation. Where the trades are well
organized collective bargaining, regulated by the industrial concilia­
tion act, is preferred to minimum-wage legislation, with which this
study is concerned.
South Africa, more so even than Australia, had to face the com­
petition of white and colored workers. Australia, confronted par­
ticularly with the work of the Chinese in the laundry industry, has
expressly applied minimum wages to the Chinese, in order to prevent
their lowering, by competition, the standard of living of the white
workers. In South Africa minimum wages have been declared,
partly for the same reason, for colored and black workers, but no
effort has been made to amalgamate their standards entirely with
those of the whites. Various callings have been potentially reserved
for them, by abstaining from making the wage rates attractive for
whites, but a serious effort is being made to decrease the gap gradu­
ally. Education,5 especially among the mulattoes, is spreading
rapidly; color and degree of skill no longer coincide and the vast
gap between the wages of skilled and of unskilled labor comes more
and more into contradiction with general economic laws. The South
African minimum wage law not only ministers to the necessities of
humanity and industrial peace, as in other countries, but also plays
a great role in the gradual growth of an economically homogeneous
nation. The South African experience is therefore unique as an ex­
tension of the minimum wage principle to an essentially aristocratic
society, divided into a dominating racial minority and a servile racial
18 Union o f South A frica. Department o f Labor. Social and Industrial Review, P re­
toria, June, 1927, pp. 607 and 6 1 2 ; January, 1928, pp. 63 and 64.

Federal Legislation
H E Constitution of Mexico 1 provides (art. 123, Par. V I) that
every worker shall be entitled to a minimum wage sufficient,
according to the conditions of the region, to satisfy the normal
needs of life of the worker, his education, and his lawful pleasures,
considering him as the head of a family; besides which the workman
shall have the right to participate in the profits of the agricultural,
commercial, manufacturing, or mining enterprise which employs him.
The constitution specifies that special commissions shall be ap­
pointed in each municipality to determine the minimum wages and
the rate of profit sharing. (Art. 123, Par. IX .) These commissions
shall be subordinate to a central board of conciliation to be estab­
lished in each State.


State Legislation
/^O N G R E S S and the State legislatures are called upon to enact
laws in conformity to the general principles of the constitution
as regards labor; i. e., minimum wage, the legal eight-hour day, limi­
tation of night work, regulation of child labor, and protection of
female labor. (Art. 123, preamble.) In 1925 the Federal Chamber of
Deputies passed a minimum wage bill relating to the Federal Dis­
trict, but it has not yet been approved by the Senate.2 On the other
hand, the States of Nayarit, Puebla, Sonora, Tamaulipas, Vera Cruz,
Yucatan, Zacatecas, Sinaloa, Queretaro, San Luis Potosi, Nuevo Leon,
Michoacan, Mexico, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Coahuila, Campeche, Co­
lima, Chihuahua, and Durango have enacted laws to establish the
commissions prescribed by the Federal constitution. These commis­
sions, which are composed of an equal number of representatives of
capital and of labor, with a representative of the Government as
chairman, fix the minimum wage.3 The State of Yucatan was the
first to enact such a law— on July 28, 1917— the State of Vera Cruz
following on January 14, 1918.
Vera Cruz.— The law of Vera Cruz was amended in 1925.4 It
states (art. 116) a wage-fixing principle in accord with that pre­
scribed in the Federal constitution. The minimum wage shall be
1 Annals o f the American Academy o f Political and Social Science, Philadelphia, May,
1917, [>. 9 4 : “ The Mexican constitution o f 1917 compared with the constitution of
2 Letter o f Guillermo Palacios, o f the Mexican Department o f Labor, dated Feb. 4.
3 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, February, 1928,
p. 2 1 7 : ** Labor legislation in Latin America,” by Moises Poblete-Troncoso.
4 Ley del Trabajo del Estado Libre y Soberano de Veracruz-Llave y sus Reformas.
Jalapa-Enriquez, 1925.




sufficient, according to the conditions of the region, to satisfy the
normal living requirements of the worker, individually and as head
of the family.
The local commissions are to convene at the call of the central board
of conciliation and arbitration but not more than twice in one year.
(Art. 119.) A local commission is to consist of representatives of
employers and of employees under the chairmanship of a public
official. (Art. 120.) Inquiries as to the cost of living are to be made
by such commissions. (Art. 122.) The commissions are authorized
to determine by a majority vote the minimum wages for each
Jalisco.— A similar law was enacted on August 13, 1923, in the
State of Jalisco.5 The provision (art. 55) of that law embodying
the wage-fixing principle corresponds to that of the law of Vera
Cruz but expressly includes education and reasonable amusements
among the necessities of life, while the law of Vera Cruz does not
mention them.
The employers and the employees of each of the agricultural,
mining, or manufacturing industries in the municipality shall be
represented on the local boards (art. 57, Par. I l l ) , but the law pro­
vides for the free election of a chairman, differing in that respect
from the law of Vera Cruz. The minimum wage may be modified at
any time. (Art. 60.) Appeals may be taken to the central board of
conciliation and arbitration.
Queretaro.— The law of the State of Queretaro, enacted in 1922, is
somewhat more radical.6 It establishes a wage-fixing principle and
enumerates the same necessities of life as the law of Jalisco, but
provides that in no case shall the wage be lower than 40 centavos7
per day for agricultural workers and domestic servants, 60 centavos
for other laborers, or 75 centavos for office employees (art. 61).
The law enumerates the powers of the local commissions and
states not only their power to fix minimum wages, as in the laws of
the three States previously noted, but also to regulate the participa­
tion of the workers in the profits of the agricultural, commercial,
manufacturing, and mining enterprises, in conformity with the pro­
visions of the Federal constitution. It states expressly, however,
that the minimum wages fixed by these commissions must in no case
be lower than the state-wide minimum fixed by the law. (Art. 190.)
San Lms Potosi.— The minimum wage law of the State of San Luis
Potosi, enacted on January 22, 1925,8 is similar to those of the other
States. The local commissions shall also have arbitrary powers if
there are disputes as to the minimum wTage. The minimum wage shall
not deprive the workers of privileges accorded to them voluntarily be­
fore the determination of the minimum wage. I f an employer closes
his establishment during the deliberations of the commission, with the
intention of opposing the rate, he shall be required to pay three
months’ wages to each of his employees.
5 International Labor Office. Legislative series 1923— Mexico 1 (Jalisco) : Decree No.
2308 respecting the labor act o f the State o f Jalisco, dated Aug. 13, 1923.
6 Ley del Trabajo del Estado de Queretaro Arteaga. Queretaro, 1922, forwarded Mar.
23, 1928, by Agapito Pozo, Secretary General o f Queretaro.
7 At par, peso = 49.85 cen ts; c e n ta v o = 0 4985 cent.
8 Monthly Labor Review, May, 1925, p. 110.



Application of the State Laws
T N A N inquiry conducted by the writer on the spot in the States of
Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Queretaro, Vera Cruz, and in the
Federal District in June and July, 1928, accumulated evidence show­
ing that the State of San Luis Potosi alone applies the law fully,
and checks up on its observance, both in the city and in the country
districts, by competent inspectors. The State of Queretaro applies
the state-wide minimum but has not yet established the local com­
missions. To date the laws of Nuevo Leon and of Vera Cruz have
not yet been put into effect. The bill for the Federal District has
not yet been passed by the senate. However, a strong feeling pre­
vailed in the circles interested in this legislation that once the bill
is accepted by the senate and becomes a law its provisions will be
applied with more force than the provisions of the State laws have
been enforced.

General Conclusions
Federal constitution (art. 123, Par. X V I I I ) states the limits
ui legal strikes. A Federal law enacted on December 30, 1925,9
prohibits (art. 6) the replacement of strikers during a legal strike or
an attempt by a minority of the workers to resume work or to go on
working if the majority has lawfully declared a strike. Thus the
Mexican minimum wage law does not tend, as in Australasia, toward
prohibition of strikes, but it does give additional guaranties to
The Federal constitution prescribes submission of all disputes to a
board of conciliation and arbitration for settlement. (Art. 123, Pars.
X X , X X I .)
Employers who refuse to do so, or to accept the
awards rendered, shall be bound to pay three months’ wages to the
workers in addition to any liability incurred in the dispute, while
the workers may reject the award. Stipulations apparently so lacking
in impartiality toward the different industrial classes can be under­
stood only when thei * 1
’ n mind the conditions of employment
they were destined
Some examples may be given. A
strike of agricultural workers in Michoajcan in November, 1924, was
settled through mediation of the department of industry, commerce,
and labor, and daily wages of 35 centavos for a 16-hour day were
increased to 1 peso for an 8-hour day.10 In 1924 a minimum wage of
1.50 pesos per day was proclaimed by the municipality of Mexico
City,11 although in an inquiry by the Department of Industry, Com­
merce, and Labor of Mexico in 1923 (a year before this fixing of the
minimum wage) into the cost of living of 4,100 families in the
Federal District it had concluded that 2.81 pesos per day were needed
for a family of five persons.12
As an example of rather moderate opposition to minimum wage
laws on behalf of employers, it may be noted that the National Cham­
ber of Mining in Chihuahua in 1923 called upon the municipal com• International Labor Office. Geneva. Legislative series 1925— M exico 2 : A ct under
article 4 o f the constitution respecting liberty to work, dated Dec. 30, 1925.
10 Bulletin o f the Pan American Union, Washington, February, 1925, p. 200.
11 Idem, July, 1924, p. 741.
“ Idem, May, 1923, p. 521.



misions to proceed carefully and judiciously in order to avoid the
necessity of revision.13
Reviewing the Mexican situation as regards minimum wages, both
the facts and the law are extreme, but in opposite directions. Wages
are extremely low, but the law adds guaranty to guaranty for the
workers— a minimum wage for all classes ot workers without ex­
ception; obligatory profit sharing; arbitration, compulsory for the
employers but not for the workers; right of a majority of workers
in each enterprise to declare a strike, and prohibition for a minority
to break the strike. The one-sided character of these legal stipula­
tions can not be denied; when their role— that of eliminating the
extremely low wages— is fulfilled, public opinion may be expected
to bring about new provisions. The point of interest here is whether
the minimum wage for all occupations is to be counted among the
merely provisional rules of a revolutionary period, destined to
correct evils recognized as such by public opinion.
Examination of the State minimum wage laws shows that they
do not contain one-sided stipulations like those in the Federal consti­
tution as to awards or those of the Federal law of December 30, 1925,
on “ liberty to work,” prohibiting the replacement of strikers (see
p. 74). The minimum wage laws of all the States are bilateral in
character; they are very similar, both in machinery and scope, to those
of Victoria, Australia, which have remained in operation for many
years, approved by all portions of public opinion. The passage of
such laws in one Mexican State after another and the passage in the
Federal Chamber of Deputies of a minimum wage bill relating to the
Federal District many years after the Federal constitution of 1917
show that public opinion is steadily, though slowly, growing toward
more practical application of general principles. There seems evi­
dence for the assumption that the general minimum wage laws of
Mexico will be of a permanent character.
“ Bulletin o f the Fan American Union, Washington, July, 1923, p. 92.

109931°— 28------ 6

W E A T IN G of home wqrkers was a general evil throughout
Europe until minimum wage legislation restricted it in Great
Britain and, to a lesser extent, on the Continent. Women have
been most affected but not exclusively. The evil is greatest in the
slums of big cities, such as those in Great Britain, but home industries
in country districts also, struggling against the competition of
machine work in factories (on the Continent more than in Great
Britain), show the typical evils of home work— low earnings, long
hours to make up for these low earnings, and lack of supervision of
hygienic conditions, such as is provided for workshops by factory
legislation. Home workers have not the same facilities for meeting
fellow workers, discussing their common fate, and forming tradeunions as factory workers have. Female home workers, to a large
extent housewives or widows and (on the Continent of Europe)
unmarried mothers, find it difficult on account of these home ties to
go to the factory. They are generally timid and afraid to ask for
higher piecework rates than are paid them. As the supply of this
kind of labor is large the employers can keep the rates down; fre­
quently they are compelled to do so, as handwork or work with
primitive machinery in the homes is less productive than perfected
machine labor in the modern factories with which it has to compete.
Men also, clinging desperately to the home work done by their
fathers, frequently accept wages much below those paid similar
workers in the workshop. (The typical case of the hand weavers of
Silesia has been immortalized by the dramatic play, “ The Weavers,”
by Gerhart Hauptmann.)
The case of dying home industries presents peculiar conditions
which have parallels in other continents, for instance, in India; but
no parallels exist in younger countries, starting industrial life with
modern methods, such as Australia, Canada, or the United States.
It is hardly likely that this problem will be solved otherwise than by
the gradual replacement of technically defective home industries by
modern factories.
Matters are different as regards the more general problem of the
sweating of isolated home workers, who are mostly women occupied
in various trades, generally in the large cities. In Victoria since
1896 remedies have been found. (See p. 11.) Since the first news
of this achievement reached Europe, endeavors to proceed along
similar lines, establishing wage boards empowered to fix minimum
wages for home workers, have taken place in many countries.
When the International Institute for the Exchange of Social Ex­
perience was established in Paris in 1907 the propagation of the
minimum wage legislation of Victoria was one of the foremost re-





forms advocated.1 Through this and various other channels this
example, which in 1909 led to parallel legislation in England (trade
boards act), became widely known throughout the countries of the
Continent.2 As a result, France, Germany, and Austria began to
consider similar provisions for abolishing the sweating of home
workers. Resistance, though serious, was overcome— in France, after
the outbreak of the war, when State interference in industrial affairs
became general; in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, after
their revolutions. Norway and Argentina also established in 1918
wage boards for home workers; Spain passed a legislative decree
to that effect in 1926.
A small-scale Swiss experiment, however, was discontinued after
5 years, and so far the laws of Austria and Czechoslovakia have not
been consistently applied.
In this chapter the actual application of minimum wage laws for
home workers in France, Norway, Argentina, and Germany (and
the new Spanish leg’slation) will be studied. In the next chapter
the unsuccessful or yet inconclusive experiments undertaken in the
same field by Switzerland, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and the
causes of the temporary failure, will be examined.

French law of July 10, 1915, evolved from deliberations in
various commissions and in Parliament lasting for several years,
was finally accepted by unanimous vote of both chambers. Combin­
ing different projects and counter-projects of divergent tendencies
it established wages boards for female home workers in the clothing
and allied industries. The range of protected persons is therefore
much more restricted than in the Anglo-Saxon countries.®
The French family allowances (compulsory for contractors work­
ing for the National Government and granted also by many firms)
affect a larger range of persons, but, unlike the parallel Australian
proposition, they are not connected with any basic wage granted
to the wage earner; they are related rather to the French system
of social insurance (embracing also old-age pensions, etc.) than with
minimum wage legislation, and are therefore only mentioned here.

Principle of Wage Fixation
'T ' H E boards do not possess one essential attribute which those in
most Anglo-Saxon countries do, as they are not authorized to
consider principles of social justice as a basis for their decisions—they
have no right to establish a living wage on the basis of general prin­
ciples, and they may not even investigate whether or not the trade
can bear any rate the fixation of which is desirable for humanitarian
reasons. They are formally bound to apply a particular combination
of the 44fair-wage55 principle with some consideration for a “ living
1 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, p. 15.
2 See for details Broda, R . : Inwieweit ist eine gesetzliche Regelung der Lohn und
Arbeitsbedingungen m oglich? Berlin, Georg Reimer, 1911.
° See for critical examination o f the first draft o f law submitted to Parliament and for
proposed amendments, Les Documents du Progres, Revue Internationale, Paris, January,
1902, p. 1 : “ Le salaire minimum jou r des Ouvri&res en chambre, by R. Broda.



wage.” They are called upon to equalize the earnings of the home
worker with those of the shopworker in order to suppress the par­
ticularly gross form of sweating from which female home workers
The local boards, composed of delegates of employers and of em­
ployees, presided over by the justice of the peace of the district, are
called upon to ascertain the prices per hour which are prevalent
for the women employed in workshops of the same industry in the
same district. The average wages of women working in the work­
shops become the minimum wages of women working at home,
thereby protecting them against exaggerated exploitation.
Committees of experts, established in a different way, are then
called upon to verify the length of time necessary for the production
of the different articles; there remains then the simple task of
multiplying the minimum wage per hour, fixed by the wages board,
by the number of hours indicated as necessary by the commission of
experts, in order to arrive at the minimum wage for the particular
piece. These rates are published and become legally binding if no
complaint is made during three months. In case of complaint a cen­
tral commission in Paris, presided over by a member of the supreme
court, renders final judgment.
The machinery of the French law is rather ingenious. It avoids
the necessity of excursions into the realm of social justice and enables
the two kinds of committees established to remain within the limits
of verification of facts— on unquestioned logical ground.

Rules of Enforcement
'T 'H E law at first proposed by the Government and as passed had a
rather serious shortcoming. The inspectors of factories who, in
the Anglo-Saxon countries, supervise the application of similar
laws were not vested with any authority to do so in France, beyond
the verification of certain formal rules (posting of the minimum wage
figures in the office where the work is handed over to the workers,
etc.). They had no right to act against employers not paying the
minimum wages prescribed.
One reason given was that the inspectors of factories were over­
burdened with other duties. The real reason, however, for avoiding
enforcement of the law by public authority seems to have been the
desire to make the application of the law less rigid, less official, less
bureaucratic; but opinions were divided even among the high officials
of the Ministry of Labor.
A circular letter of the Minister of Labor to the inspectors dated
July 24, 1915, reminds them that the law does not intrust them with
verification and enforcement as to the actual payment of the mini­
mum wages ; but to help toward that end the minister suggests that
the inspectors “ remind the employers unofficially that they act
incorrectly and put themselves in danger of civil suits.” Practical
experience from 1915 to 1928 seems to have further modified the
original viewpoint of the authorities. The answer of the French
Government to the questionnaire of the International Labor Office



as to the new international convention to be concluded,3 expressly
favors supervision by the factory inspectors as to the actual payments
made and favors proceedings for penal and civil penalties in case of
infringement of the rules.
The only method of material redress offered by the first Govern­
ment proposal consisted in the right of home workers to sue their
employers who had not paid them the minimum wage fixed by law,
and to obtain by civil suit payment of the back wages.4 Common
sense, however, seemed to indicate that these women working at home,
afraid of being dismissed in case of dispute, and being by nature
rather timid and inexperienced, would not dare to sue their em­
An inquiry of the French Ministry of Labor in the beginning of
1925,5 brought to light some practical instances confirming these
suppositions. Several workers who were not paid the minimum wage
preferred to suffer rather than to take the risk of losing their jobs.
Not one of them was prepared to bring suit for recovery of the differ­
ence in wages.
The law finally voted by Parliament, modifying the original
proposal of the Government, authorizes the trade-unions and certain
associations concerned with the welfare of home workers to bring
suit in their own right to prevent underpayment of the workers.

Application of the Law
'T 'H E June-July, 1917, and the August-September, 1918, issues of
the Bulletin of the Ministry of Labor, while mentioning no suit
brought by the women, report several litigations undertaken by
trade-unions and by the French Office for Home Work. Several
employers were compelled to pay supplementary salaries to the
women, and to pay damages to the associations which had sued them.
For instance, a firm was found guilty on November 28, 1917, the
litigation being brought by the Office for Home Work, pleading in
the name of 15 woman workers. The women had lost courage while
the litigation progressed and abandoned it. Nevertheless the tri­
bunal, giving its reasons for the judgment; stated that associations
like the Office for' Home Work are authorized by the law to plead
in their own name and in their own right, to act independently
of the demand of the working women, for payment of back wages.
In 1916, 5,576 employers were affected by the law; in 1917, 6,455.
The number of woman workers affected by the law was, in 1916,
208,000; in 1917, 215,000.6
The law of 1915 applies to female home workers in the clothing
trades, but paragraph 33m of the law provides that male home
workers receiving wages below the minima established for the women
may bring suit for payment of the same minima.
A ministerial order of August 10, 1922, based on another provi­
sion of the above-mentioned section 33m of the law, extended the
protection to several other industries, and an order of July 30, 1926,
8 International Labor Conference, eleventh session, Geneva, May, 1928.
Report on
Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, International Labor Office, 1928, p. 70.
* Broda, R . : La Fixation tegale des Salaires. Paris, 1912.
BBulletin du Ministfere du Travail, Paris, July-September, 1925, p. 243.
• Idem. August-Septem ber-October, 1918, p. 363.



adds numerous other branches of work. A project for amending
and extending the law was submitted to Parliament in November,
1926, but has not yet been acted upon.7
The Bulletin of the Ministry of Labor (July-September, 1925)
states that wage boards as well as committees of experts have been
established in practically all administrative districts of France,
and they have established wage minima as provided for by the law.
They have been slow, however, particularly since 1920, in regularly
revising their figures (p. 230) to adapt them to the rise in the cost
of living. A circular letter of the ministry dated August 26, 1924,
resulted, however, in numerous revisions of obsolete rates.
Madame Duchene, the founder of the French Office for Home
Work, states her opinion on the application of the law during the
first year 8 as follows:
The wages boards called upon to ascertain the current time-work rates of
the district have functioned without great difficulties. The commissions of
experts, on the other hand, called upon to determine the time needed for the
production of the various articles and to give thereby the basis for the estab­
lishment of the rates for piecework, had a more difficult task, necessitating
considerable technical knowledge and rather intense work. These commissions
have not proved to be equally competent everywhere.

Application of the law soon succeeded in eliminating rates of about
15 centimes 9 per hour, which before the promulgation of the law had
been frequent, and in eliminating also, in urban centers, rates of 20
centimes per hour. That would have meant an approach to a living
wage if at the same time prices had not risen. Under the circum­
stances, however, it merely prevented (coupled with war-time allow­
ances to dependent women) a further aggravation of the misery of
the home workers. On the other hand, a court decision in 1918
expressly interpreted the law as not allowing reference to a living
wage (as in Anglo-Saxon countries), but as tending only toward
equalizing the rates for home work and shop work.
The following opinion, based on comparison of various testimonies
and observations, was given in 1921:10
The application of the law had some favorable influence on the organization
of female workers. Tr ade-union action has led to some notable successes. The
working women have been reimbursed by sums of some importance and their
income has been increased to a moderate but noticeable extent. The tendency
to harmonize incomes with living costs has manifested itself in a fairly strong

Prof. Roger Picard, president of the French Office for Home Work,
writing in 1926,11 shows that the enforcement of the law depended
on the French Office for Home Work, which opened offices in various
working-class quarters of Paris, for attention to complaints by
workers, engaged in lawsuits to secure the enforcement of the act,
and created judicial precedents. The Bulletin of the Ministry of
Labor for July-September, 1925 (p. 243), states also that no other
organization authorized by the minister to intervene in the public
interest has taken any action.
7 Letter from M. Maguenard, councillor o f state, dated Mar. 16, 1928.
8 DucM ne, G .: Les Progr&s de la Legislation sur le Minimum de Salaire. Paris, 1918.
9 A t par, fr a n c= 1 9 .3 cents; centime = 0.193 cents; exchange rate much below par.
10Broda, R . : Les R<§sultats de 1’Application du Salaire Minimum Pendant et Depuis la
Guerre. Berne, 1921.
11 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, August, 1926,
p. 2 3 6 : “ The legal minimum wage o f women home workers in France,” by Roger



Outside of Paris, however, the action of the French Office for
Home Work could not make itself felt in a strong way, and there was
practically no other controlling influence. The lack of official en­
forcement was therefore particularly felt in the Provinces. Prac­
tical increases in wages were brought about by the new legislation,
but when considering such increased wages, particularly those of the
later years, there must be kept in mind the increase in the cost of
living resulting from the depreciation of the franc. In 1914 the
average wage of female home workers was below 1.50 francs per day.
The first decisions made in 1915 by the committees raised these rates
substantially, but, as explained above, not nearly in proportion to
the rapid increase of prices during that period of the war. The
most liberal rates amounted to from 3 to 3.50 francs per day.
During 1916 the hourly wage of 25 centimes showed a tendency to
become general, but in the same period the average wage of an
agricultural laborer living out was about 5 francs per day, and in
small workshop industries the average wage varied between 4.50 and
7.50 francs per day.
The rates in 1919 and 1920 rose to an average of between 40 and 95
centimes per hour.12 The variations were still very great. While 1.51
francs per hour was prescribed for machine work in the clothing
industry in Paris and vicinity, similar work was to be paid only 25
centimes per hour in the Vendee district on the Atlantic coast. The
wages for this kind of work for 1925 were 1.51 to 1.87 francs per hour
in Paris, and 75 centimes in the Vendee; a general comparison of the
rates in 1920 and 1925 shows that the local differences have decreased
and that the worst sweating wages have disappeared but that real
wages have remained very low, even in urban centers.13
Professor Picard 14 calculates that in general home workers’ earn­
ings have increased 600 to 700 per cent, while the general average of
wages in France has increased barely fivefold and the cost of living
not quite sixfold. But in periods between revisions very low “ real
wages ” reappeared. The legislator could not foresee that nominal
wages would radically change inside of one year or even less— that a
nominal wage of 40 centimes per hour might mean something quite
different in real purchasing power in January than in November.
This shortcoming, however, may lose its gravity with the next
revision of time and piece rates, after final stabilization of the franc.

T O ascertain the permanent value of a law of the French type, the
* working of its more general provisions must be studied.
Is it sufficient to equalize home workers’ pay with shop workers’
pay ? Is it permissible to discard the principle of the living wage to
such an extent as the French law does? The first obvious answer is
that limited results only can be achieved in that way. Not only will
i2 See Bulletin du Minist&re du Travail, Paris, August-October, 1920, pp. 348-357, for
a complete survey o f rates fixed.
18 See Bulletin du Minist&re du Travail, Paris, August-October, 1920, pp. 348-357, and
July-September, 1925, pp. 346-352.
14 International Labor Office.
International Labor Review, Geneva, August, 1926,
p. 2 4 3 : “ The legal minimum wage o f women home workers in France,” by Roger



it be impossible to relieve in any way the situation of female factory
workers— the large area covered by the American minimum wage
laws for female help in workshops and stores remains entirely
uncovered— but the home workers also, to which the attention of the
legislator has been confined, can at best earn only as much as the
female help in factories. Frequently, however, they earn much less,
as the factory workers’ wages may have risen during the three years’
interval between the determinations of the wages boards.
Professor Picard proposes certain amendments to make acceptable
the mere equalization of factory workers’ and home workers’ earn­
ings, summarized as follows:
First. In fixing the minimum applicable to home workers, account should be
taken of the supplementary remuneration, in cash or in kind, that the factory
worker may receive over and above her principal wage.
Second. Account should be taken of the expenses to be met by the home
worker in carrying out her work (heating, lighting, tools, etc.) and of the
fact, for example, that she does not benefit from insurance against accidents due
to her work, to which she is not less exposed than her sister in the workshop.
Third, The benefits of any increases in wages gained by factory workers
should be guaranteed to home workers.

The other main problem of the French situation refers to the
enforcement of the minimum wage decisions. Does civil action
suffice to create respect for the law? All hope from the beginning
was placed on action by trade-unions and associations, but this action
has been singularly reduced by the judgments of the courts since the
end of the war. The Civil Court of Paris (March 7, 1919) and the
Supreme Court of France (July 28, 1919) decided that the asso­
ciations could not act for the workers; that they could not claim on
their behalf the payment of back wages. The mere authority to
claim damages has not in practice proved to be a sufficient deterrent
to employers inclined to pay lower wages than prescribed by law.
The French law resembles in a way— by its lack of official enforce­
ment and by its flexibility— the “ recommendatory ” minimum wage
law of Massachusetts (which, however, refers to shops and stores, not
to home work), but enforcement by civil suits in France has proved
to be even less effective than the enforcement by publication of the
names of recalcitrant employers in Massachusetts and far below
enforcement by inspectors of factories, authorized to impose fines, in
the various parts of the British Empire.
Continuing the comparison, there will be applied to the French
type of law three questions discussed frequently in England and in
the United States.
Does the minimum tend to become the maximum? The French
law, providing in the last resort only minima for piece rates, offers
no loophole for the above-mentioned danger. I f the less clever
worker earns the minimum, the clever and fast worker, with the
same piece rates, will earn correspondingly more.
Are slow workers deprived of employment? They are not dis­
charged as they earn less, being paid piecework rates.
Were home workers generally deprived of employment? The
increase of rates was obviously too moderate to bring about that
danger. As we have seen, home-work rates remained, in practice,
below factory rates. I f the factories can (in the French clothing
industry only in a limited way) apply more progressive methods



of production, the employer of home workers, on the other hand,
saves rent, expenses for heating, social insurance, etc. Home work
continues to stand the test of competition.
The French law, limited in its beneficial results, had no detrimental
effects. The experience of these 12 years shows, however, that the
French type of law will never have any very extensive results com­
parable to those obtained by minimum wage legislation in the British
Empire. It is true that home-work conditions have been infinitely
worse than factory conditions, and that equalization (if realized)
would in itself be an important step forward, and especially so when
stabilization of currency and of nominal wages of factory workers
renders that stabilization effective and lasting for a reasonable time.
The French type of law does not seem to present those character­
istic qualities which in England and Australia have led to the
spontaneous and gradual extension of the sphere of these laws to
new groups of workers. At the best the French law, if not
thoroughly modified, will become a useful regulation to eliminate
some anomalies of the industrial system in the restricted sphere of
home workers, but it will not become the starting point for a new
conception of industrial relations, for the substitution of “ needs of
the worker ” for “ offer and demand 55 as a basis for the fixation of

'T 'H E Central Statistical Office of Norway investigated in 1904-5
the conditions of home workers15 and found average weekly
wages of 7.21 kroner16 for married women and 8.67 kroner for wid­
ows, and 8.83 kroner for unmarried women. The working-day of
housewives was very long— for most of them 14 to 16 hours a day—
the insufficiency of the earnings and the absence of any control induc­
ing some of these women to work 18 hours a day.
War conditions raised the pay to a certain extent, but as prices of
the necessaries of life doubled and later even tripled17 the misery
of the home workers remained practically unchanged. Popular com­
passion for their fate led iiT 1918 to the passing of a law establishing
wage boards for home workers.18
These boards set up in 1918 a minimum wage, ratified by the
Central Home Work Council in Oslo and in Fredrikstad, of 1 krone
per hour. In 1922, when trade became depressed and prices also
declined, the hourly wages were reduced to 0.80 krone. Piece rates
(alone of practical value for home workers) were fixed in accord­
ance, although detailed practical adjustments proved to be difficult.
In some instances the length of seams sewed was chosen as a measure­
ment for the amount of work accomplished and the basis for the
wage to be paid.19

International Labor Office.

International Labor Review, Geneva, December, 1925,

p. 8 0 4 : “ Minimum wage legislation in Norway,” by Fredrik Voss.

10 A t par k ron e= 26 .8 cents.
17International Labor Office. Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f w ork),
No. 1 6 : Wage changes in various countries, 1914 to 1925. Comparison o f nominal and
real wages in Norway, 1914 and 1920. Geneva, 1926, p. 110.
18 International Labor Office. Bulletin, Vol. X III, No. 1-10, London, 19 18: A ct respect­
ing industrial home work, dated Feb. 15, 1918.
t9 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, December, 1925,
p. 803.



Principle of Wage Fixation
"E Q U A L IZ A T IO N of home-workers’ earnings with factory wages
(the “ fair-wage ” principle, as in France, but with greater free­
dom of the boards to consider also the general necessity of a living
wage) was the principle used in wage fixation.

p ’E E D K IK VOSS, chairman of the Home Work Council, reports 20
that two wage boards— one set up in Oslo and one in the second
main center of home work, Fredrikstad— worked well. The inspec­
tion of conditions, intrusted to the health councils of these cities and
exercised with northern thoroughness, partly through house-to-house
inspection, proved that the wages prescribed were really paid, prac­
tically without exception. Elsewhere, setting up wage boards for
small numbers of home workers proved to be too complicated and
too costly, and so no minimum rates were fixed. Efforts of the Home
Work Council and of local health councils, however, to persuade the
few employers in the smaller cities and towns where underpayment
was observed to raise wages voluntarily often succeeded. High
wages of home workers in Oslo and in Fredrikstad and low wages
elsewhere created unequal competitive conditions for employers in
different parts of the country. While generally the employers’ asso­
ciations favored renewal of the law (which had first been voted for
five years only and was renewed by unanimous vote of Parliament);
there were serious complaints of employers about the unequal applica­
tion of the law. The Central Home Work Council (composed, like the
wage boards themselves, of representatives of employers and of em­
ployees and presided over by an impartial chairman) asked there­
fore for an amendment to the law empowering it to fix wages directly
in places where the establishment of wage boards had been found im­
practicable. Parliament, however, refused, the chief reason being
that it was undesirable to give so much power to a central authority
in Oslo. The application of the law continues without change.
The Norwegian Ministry of Social Affairs reported on March 15,
1927, to the International Labor Office21 that home-workers’ rates
are generally slightly lower than those paid to similar classes of
workers in factories, and that inspection seems to have insured observ­
ance of the rates. The whole experience seems to prove the usefulness
of minimum wage legislation for home workers but points also to the
necessity of overcoming difficulties of administrative machinery.
These difficulties have been much greater in the other sphere (com­
mercial employees) regulated by minimum wage legislation during
seven years, as will be seen later in a survey of unsuccessful minimum
wage experiments (p. 112); These difficulties seem to have much im­
pressed the Ministry of Social Affairs. It ranged itself with the
very small minority of Governments opposing an international con20 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, December, 1925,
p. 8 0 5 : “ Minimum wage legislation in Norway.”
21 International Labor Office. Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f w ork),
No. 17 : Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, 1927, p. 149.



vention on minimum wage-fixing machinery, while the Home Work
Council by majority vote (1928) favored the conclusion of such a
convention. Opinions remain sharply divided.22

Minimum Wage for Home Workers
N OCTOBER 8,1918, a law was passed in Argentina 23 to protect
home workers in the capital and iii the Federal Territories. It
empowered the National Labor Department to appoint wage boards
for every industry employing home workers if 50 workers therein
ask for it. These boards are to fix minimum hourly rates and piece­
work rates in conformity with the national laws fixing maximum
hours per day. (xirt. 13.) The boards are composed of an equal
number of representatives of employers and of employees, and an
independent chairman, appointed by the National Labor Department.
Principle of Wage Fixation
The wage boards are to take into account (art. 17) the nature of
the work; the price of the articles in the locality; the sums necessary
for the existence of the workers; the lowest salaries earned by shop
workers; local customs; the price of articles of prime necessity in
the locality; and finally, the value of accessories needed for the work.
Thus the u living-wage ” principle and “ fair-wage ” principle after
the French fashion (adaptation of the earnings of home workers to
the earnings of shop workers) are combined.
Employers who are found not to have paid the minimum wage
are liable to a fine of 300 pesos.24 (Art. 20.) Any worker can bring
civil suit against the employer at fault. (Art. 21.) The inspectors of
labor, the wage boards, the National Labor Department, and the
judicial authorities are intrusted with supervision of the application
of the rules. (Art. 22.)
Home work prevails particularly in the city of Buenos Aires, and
the main steps for enforcement have been taken there.25 Some trade
organizations, particularly the unions of the tailoring trades, co­
operated with the National Labor Department and with its inspec­
tors and facilitated the establishment of minimum wages for that
industry. The disinclination of the trade-unions in the boot and
sh®e trade, on the other hand, rendered it impossible to accomplish
satisfactory work for that industry.
22 International Labor Conference, eleventh session, Geneva, May, 1928.
Report on
Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, International Labor Office, 1928, p. 24.
International Labor Office. Legislative series 1919— Argentina 1 and 2 : A ct No.
10505, respecting home work, dated Oct. 8, 1919.
24A t par peso= gold, 96.48 cen ts; paper, 42.45 cents.
25 Argentina. Department o f Labor. Cronica Mensual, various num bers; International
Labor Office, Studies and reports, scries D (wages and hours o f w ork), No. 1 7 : Minimum
W age-Fixing Machinery, Geneva, 1927, p. 97. For general background see also Boletin
del Museo Social Argentino, Buenos Aires, various numbers.



Inquiries by the statistical division of the National Labor Depart­
ment26 ascertained that, as regards women’s trades, the earnings
of the home workers yet remain considerably below those of
factory workers in the same industry. For instance, dressmakers
working at home earned 3.43 pesos per day, while those working in
shops earned 4.55 pesos; for embroiderers the daily wage of the
women working at home was 3.12 pesos, and in shops 5.12 pesos.
Two men’s trades may also be indicated: Chairmakers working at
home earned 4 pesos a day and those in shops 5.77 pesos; tinsmiths
working at home earned 4 pesos a day and those in shops 6.04 pesos.
Equalization of shop and home workers’ earnings has so far not
been realized, but the daily earnings seem, even with the cost of
living of Buenos Aires, to come near a living wage. As in Victoria,
Australia, appreciation of the results of the minimum wage in the
home-work trades has led to its extension to industry generally.
Minimum wage legislation has been extended to shop work in the
Provinces of Tucuman and San Juan. The conclusion seems justi­
fied, therefore, that in Argentina, as in Australia, results obtained
in the limited field of home work have given satisfaction.

Minimum Wage for Shop Workers
in the Provinces of Tucuman and San Juan, both passed in
provided for minimum wages, fixed by the legislature
itself.27 The scope of the law in Tucuman was more general, as all
adult factory workers are to receive 4.20 pesos (national currency)
per day, while the act of San Juan makes provisions for particular
classes of workers.
Principles of Wage Fixation
The situation in Tucuman and San Juan seems to be about the
same as that in Uruguay (see p. 101). The principle, “ wages the
trade can bear,” might enter into account as an upper limit, as the
industries of Tucuman and San Juan have to compete, in the inland
market, with imported articles, just as Uruguayan agriculture, ex­
porting its products, has to compete with other agricultural countries
in the world market.
The sphere of application of the law in Tucuman particularly is
too extensive to allow for useful comparisons of the protected
branches of labor with similar unprotected branches. The “ fairwage” principle in the French sense therefore can scarcely apply.
As in Uruguay, the “ living-wage ” principle and, more especially,
political factors seem to have been the main considerations involved.
26 Asociacion del Trabajo. Boletin de Serricios, Buenos Aires, Feb. 5>, 1927, pp. 5 0 -5 2 ;
Monthly Labor Review, May, 1927, p. 171.
27 International Labor Office. Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f w ork ),
No. 1 7 : Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, 1927, p. 95.



A R G E N T IN A , like Mexico and Uruguay, has begun to apply
minimum wage legislation to vast groups of its population
outside of the sweated trades— to men as well as to women. These
laws in scope rival those of the Australian States and exceed those
of most other countries.

E R M A N Y passed a law in 1911 for the protection of home
workers. Trade boards were set up to provide for the health
and safety of workers, to combat child labor, and to eliminate delay
in the giving out of materials and the receiving of the finished work.
The proposal to give power to these boards to fix minimum wages was,
however, lost in committee of the Reichstag by one vote, that of the
chairman. The boards were authorized only to encourage the volun­
tary conclusion of collective agreements fixing rates o f pay.28 Ex­
perience has proved that no effective protection is thereby afforded
to the workers.
Dr. Kaethe Gaebel reviews the results of the law in an article in
Soziale Praxis (Berlin) for May 26,1920 (p. 801), as follows:
(1) In some enterprises the loss of time, when work was handed over to the
workers and given back by them, was diminished.
(2) In other enterprises hygienic defects have been eliminated, but the
number of these enterprises compared to the total was small. The trade
boards created in T91*9 had no power to fix minimum wages.

The movement for social reform stimulated by the revolution
has filled the gap. A new law was passed on June 27, 1923, giving
trade boards the power to establish compulsory minimum wages.

Machinery of Present Law 29
nnHE Federal authorities, or in their default those of the State, are
-** authorized to establish the boards, to consist of equal numbers of
representatives of employers and of home workers with an impartial
chairman and two assessors possessing technical knowledge (secs. 19
and 22). The State authorities appoint chairman and assessors and
the representatives of both sides, these latter having been nominated
by employers’ and employees’ associations (par. 23). The boards ascer­
tain the usual wages and are called upon to promote the conclusion
of collective contracts. They may declare the stipulation of such
a collective contract to be generally enforceable if the home workers
within the district “ are obviously paid inadequate wages ” (par. 20).
I f that proves to be impossible, they may fix minimum wages for
home workers in the branch of the industry and area concerned (par.
32). The German law thereby goes to extremes to give preference
to the encouragement of voluntary agreements over legal-wage fixa­
28 Broda, R . : Inweiweit ist eine gesetzlische Regelung der Lohn-und Arbeitsbedingungen
mQglich ? Berlin, 1912; see for critical examination o f the first draft o f the law and pro­
posed am endm ents; Documente des Fortschritts, Berlin, September, 1911, p. 5 5 7 : “ Das
Problem der Heimarbeit,” by R. Broda.
29 International Labor Office. Legislative series 1923— Germany 4 : Prom ulgation of
the home work act as amended, dated June 30, 1923.



tion.30 For the definite fixation of wages a two-thirds majority of
the representatives, plus the vote of the chairman and one assessor, is
required. I f there is only a simple majority, the decree must be con­
firmed by the State authority (par. 34). Piece rates are to be fixed
whenever possible (art. 29). As to the enforcement of the rates, the
German law takes a middle course between the provision in the
Anglo-Saxon laws that employers not paying the rates fixed are
liable to be fined and the provision of the French laws leaving the
whole matter to civil suits. In Germany the trade board is called
upon to require the employer to pay the rate fixed, and if the em­
ployer fails to do so within a fortnight, a fine is imposed (par. 37).

Principle of Wage Fixation
IV O specific instructions are given to the boards as to the principle
to be used in wage fixation (paragraph 20 of the law refers to
“ inadequate wages ” paid in the district as a condition for fixation
of minimum wages but does not define what wages are “ inade­
quate” ). As the law has for its object the abolition of the sweating
of home workers, the upper limit seems to be equalization of earnings
with the average earnings of shop workers. The scope of the law is
therefore similar to that in France, with important differences:
(1) Men as well as women are protected; (2) the boards are not
restricted to the application of formalistic rules; (3) payment of
minimum wages is as a last resort enforced by fines; (4) representa­
tives of the interested parties decide the amount to be set up as
minimum wages.
In practice bargaining has been the cornerstone of wage fixation.
Trade-unions have played a decided role in that respect.31 The
workers’ representatives obviously start with their conception of a
living wage and their conception of fairness (comparison with wages
paid in shops). The employers’ representatives naturally start with
the view of what the trade can bear. Even the home workers them­
selves take that point into consideration, being afraid to lose their
jobs otherwise.32 All the three main principles of wage fixation
(somewhat similar to the practice of the boards under the British
trade boards act of 1909) enter into the act in Germany; the final
determinations are based on a compromise between the parties.

Application of the Law
tp L A B O E A T E rules have been issued by the Imperial and the
State authorities to enforce strict and methodical execution of
the law.33
In an inquiry undertaken by the Ministry of Labor in 1926 to
ascertain the practical accomplishments, it was found that in Prus­
sia and, to a large extent, in Bavaria and several other States, a
80 Somewhat similar to the wage act o f South Africa, which excludes workers having
voluntary agreements under the industrial conciliation act o f that country from the
fixation o f minimum wages.
81 Letter from the Bureau fiir Sozialpolitik, Berlin, dated June 9, 1927.
82 Reichsarbeitsblatt, Berlin, Dec. 9, 1926, p. 8 1 9 : Durchfiihrung des Heimarbeiterlohngesetzes.
83 Eisners Betriebs-Buecherei, 29. Band. Das Hausarbeitgesetz, by Wilhelm Rohde,
president o f the trade board for manufacture o f underwear in Berlin.



tendency prevailed to consider the work of the trade boards as a
part of the legal protection of labor and therefore to appoint high
officials, intrusted with general work in that respect, as chairmen of
the boards. In Saxony, Wurtemburg, and various other States the
obligations of the trade boards were rather considered as connected
with problems of industrial conciliation, and the chairmen of indus­
trial conciliation committees were appointed as chairmen of the trade
Public officials have in some States been appointed as assessors,
while in Prussia one employer and one employee, possessing technical
knowledge, have been appointed. The report indicates that this
choice had the advantage of introducing persons of particular knowl­
edge of trade conditions, but the disadvantage that the assessors were
inclined to vote with the representatives of their class, so that the
impartial decision was with the chairman alone. Up to March 28,
1925, 43 boards had been established, but up to the time of the in­
quiry only 19 had acted on wages. Three were still in the stage of
preliminary inquiry in that respect. Two boards had concentrated
their activity on conciliation, five boards had made generally enforce­
able the stipulations of collective agreements, and nine boards had
fixed straight minimum wages for home workers. The five decisions
as to collective agreements had been unanimous. Five of the mini­
mum wage determinations had also been unanimous, or with a
qualified majority. In four cases there was only a simple majority,
and the decisions had gone into force only by confirmation of the
superior authority. The minimum wages nxed in 1926 by the board
in Dresden for artistic and general knitting, sewing, and similar work
were 20 pfennigs 35 per hour for simple work after a given pattern,
and 30 pfennigs per hour for more difficult work.36 Piece rates were
to be fixed in such a way that workers of normal capacity could earn,
on an average, these amounts.
The trade board for hosiery for women and children in Berlin
fixed, on November 10,1927, the following rates: Fifty-three pfennigs
per hour, to be increased on January 1, 1928, to 54 pfennigs.37 The
board for home work in the furniture industry in Saxony, on Septem­
ber 1, 1927,38 fixed elaborate piece rates, which in the calculation of
the boards are about equal to between 17 and 22 pfennigs. The
board for embroideries in Wurttembjurg, on September 28, 1927, de­
clared the collective agreement of the industry, concluded between em­
ployers’ and employees’ organizations, to be generally enforceable.39

Bureau fur Sozialpolitik comments on the results of the law
THasE follows:
The trade depression, which took place soon after the passage of the law,
has hampered the work of the committees. At the exhibition of home work
which took place in Berlin in 1925 we have ascertained that there was success
84 Reichsarbeitsblatt, Berlin, Dec. 9, 1926, p. 818.
84 ® Idem, p. 819.
86At par mark = 23.82 cen ts; pfennig= 0 .2 3 8 2 cent.
86 Reichsarbeitsblatt, Berlin, Aug. 1, 1926.
m Idem, Dec. 1. 1927, p. 533.
88 Idem, Sept. 20, 1927, p. 411.
» Idem, Oct. 20, 1927, p. 474.
" L e t t e r dated June 9, 1927.



only where strong trade-unions backed the determinations of wages made by
the committees; that no minimum wages were determined or that the deter­
minations were not observed in practice whenever the workers were not
organized. But the organization fails where the pressure of poverty is too great.

Elisabeth Landsberg41 refers to the difficulty resulting from the
fact that in Germany home work is distributed through middlemen.
A minimum is fixed for the wages of the home workers but not for
the prices to be paid by the employers to the middlemen. That
made the law sometimes inapplicable, and in the apron branch in
Berlin middlemen and female home workers had to organize a
combined strike, in order to compel the employers to pay to the mid­
dlemen the workers’ wages plus a reasonable supplement. Miss
Landsberg also states that the trade depression, with the specter
of unemployment, hampered the application of the law. The
home workers themselves seemed not to insist, in order to avoid
Nevertheless there have been considerable increases of home work­
ers5 wages.42 In the women’s clothing industry in Berlin the earn­
ings of women working in shops (50 pfennigs) have been fixed as
the minimum for home workers, and their piece rates have been
determined accordingly.
In Silesia the hourly earnings have been increased by 50 per cent—
to 15-29 pfennigs. The committees have preferred to fix these
minima (too low, of course, from a humanitarian standpoint, but
corresponding to the capacity of the industry to pay) rather than
to abstain from action entirely.
The results of the German law so far are limited, but extraordinary
economic circumstances are responsible for this fact. There has
been some useful work inside the limits of prudence. Many signs
tend to show that under normal industrial conditions the German
law will do much good.

A E O Y A L legislative decree of July 26, 1926,48 provides for the
establishment of a home workers’ protection board, which is
authorized to create wage boards for home industries, to be com­
posed of representatives of employers and of workers, under an
impartial chairman. These boards shall have authority to equalize
home workers’ wages with the wages of shop workers in the same
industry in the same district. More comprehensive steps, obviously
inspired by the example of the Italian Corporate State, have been
taken by two royal decrees of November 26,1926, and June 1 8 ,1927.44
Local boards, composed of delegates of employers and employees,
shall be called upon to determine wages and conditions of labor and
to settle industrial differences.45
41 Soziale Paraxis, Berlin, 1926, No. 49.
42 Idem, Nos. 27, 28, 49.
43 International Labor Office. Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f w ork),
No. 1 7 : Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery, Geneva, 1927, p. 15 2; and Spain. Ministerio
de Trabajo, Comercio e Industria, Direccion General de T ra b a jo : Trabajo, a Domicilio.
Madrid, 1927.
** M inisterio de Trabajo, Comercio e Industria, Direccion General de Trabajo y Accion
S o c ia l: Organizaeion Corporativo Nacional, Madrid, 1927.
45 Ministerio de Trabajo, Comercio e Industria. Diroecion General de T ra b a jo : Regia'
mento-tipo a que han de sujetarse los comites paritarios. Madrid, 1927, p. 5.



Principle of Wage Fixation
VISAGE fixing is based on the “ fair-wage ” principle, as in neighboring France, but while in France one group of committees
ascertains statistically the usual wages of workers of the district and
another group of committees calculates the best rates on the basis of
these time rates, in Spain both functions are in the hands of the wage

Method of Enforcement
OUPEK,VISION is by inspectors. Employers infringing rules are
^ liable to be fined.
The application of the decree is to depend on publication of more
detailed administrative regulations.

N TH E eastern cantons of Switzerland textile work is done
largely in the homes of the workers, and various shortcomings
have led to Federal regulations as to wages and prices. Sweating
in the big cities led to popular agitation, investigations of home work,
and exhibitions of home-work products showing the public the low
earnings of the workers, mostly
* . for the establishment of wage boards was
general labor
law, passed by the Federal Parliament in 1919.
This law provided establishment of wage boards to fix minimum
wages. The Federal Council was empowered to declare collective
agreements affecting home work generally applicable; it was author­
ized also to extend by decree these minimum wages and collective
agreements to industry and commerce generally. The criticism di­
rected against this last-named provision led to a referendum and to a
rejection of the act by the people, although only by a very small
majority.1 Since that time the Federal authorities have been con­
sidering the possibility of submitting to Parliament a new law re­
ferring exclusively to home workers, but nothing, however, has
been done up to the present date. There are some difficulties. Home
work and factory work in various trades, particularly in the em­
broidery industry, are so interwoven that minimum wages for home
workers might be prejudiced by lower payment to factory workers
in the same trade. Application of minimum wages to factories,
however, seems to be excluded by the popular feeling as expressed
in the referendum referred to. Future advance of Swiss minimum
wage legislation seems to hinge on the proposed international con­
vention which is favored by the Swiss Government.1
Viewpoints on minimum wage legislation are divided, even among
sincere friends of the home workers. The “ Frauencentrale ” of
Zurich in agreement with the Swiss Consumers’ League published
the results of an inquiry (1928) into the conditions o f female home
workers in Zurich.2 The misery of the workers is described and the
need for a minimum wage law expressly admitted, but the fear is
expressed that only the most skilled workers would keep their jobs
under minimum wage and that the majority would lose their work.
This fear is similar to that expressed by Austrian home workers


1 International Labor Conference, eleventh session, Geneva, May, 1928.
Report on
Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, International Labor Office, 1928.
2 Summed up in the Neue Ziiricher Zeitung, May 15, 1928.




(see p. 94), but has even less foundation in Switzerland because
general employment conditions are not so unfavorable; it is also
rather disproved by the British experience (see p. 37).

Beginnings and Development
P O P U L A R agitation for the establishment of wage boards began
* about 1910. Government proposals were made to establish
boards, composed of separate chambers of employers and of em­
ployees, in each of which a majority of two-thirds would be needed
to fix minimum wages. Obtaining such a two-thirds majority of
the employers’ section seemed to be hopeless, and no harm was done
when the upper chamber rejected even that weak measure. After
the revolution things changed, and on December 19, 1918, a law
was adopted establishing wage committees composed of impartial
persons and representatives of employers and of home workers,
all appointed by the Government. Two-thirds of the members
must be present at a meeting to make material decisions, but votes
are by simple majority.®

Machinery of Wage Fixing and Enforcement
rP H E law provides that central home-work commissions shall be
* established for each industry in which goods are made by home
work. (Par. 16.) Their members are appointed by the Minister of
Social Administration; a part of them are nominated equally by
associations of employers and of employees. (Pars. 20 and 21.) Local
home-work commissions may be established in the various districts
(par. 33), to cooperate with the central commissions. (Par. 36.)
These central commissions are authorized to fix minimum/wages for
home and shop workers and minimum prices for goods delivered by
the home workers and middlemen. (Par. 26.) The determinations
must be ratified by the minister. (Par. 28.) Collective agreements
between associations of employers and of employees remain valid
even when contrary to determinations of the commissions. (Par.
31.) I f employers do not pay the minimum wages in force, they are
liable to fine or imprisonment (par. 47) and the workers or middle­
men can claim compensation of damages they have suffered thereby
(par. 45).

Principle of Wage Fixation
IV O binding instructions are given to the wage committees.

problem is similar to that in Germany; but the consideration of
“ what the trade can bear ” was brought to the forefront by the
industrial crisis in Austria. As will be seen later that principle—
“ what the trade can bear ”— was twice applied— first in the fixation
8 As to the problem o f family allowances, which are a feature o f Austrian legislation,
see p. 77 as to the same question in France.
« Austria. Staatsgesetzblatt, Vienna, Dec. 27, 1918. No. 3 2 : Gesetz vom 19, December,
1918. fiber die Regelung der Arbeits-und Lohnverhaitnisse in der Heimarbeit.



of the minimum wage and then in the nonapplication of decrees
seeming to endanger the existence of particular trades, in order not
to deprive the home workers of their tangible means of subsistence
and not to throw them into unemployment* But there are also
tendencies in the deliberations of the home-work commissions toward
comparatively high minimum wages.4
The interests of the home workers are not presented by the home
workers themselves but by secretaries of trade-unions who desire to
equalize earnings of home and shop workers in order to free the lastnamed group of workers from oppressive competition. They ask
for important increases of wages. Most of the employers’ representa­
tives are executives of companies of standing who pay wages above
the average and can not well afford, for reasons of prestige, to defend
wages so low as to distress human feelings. They are inclined to
agree with considerable increases of wages over the customary level.

Application of the Law
P E R S O N A L inquiries in 1920, 1921,1922,1923, and again in 1927,
-*• of the home workers’ trade-union in Vienna and from individual
home workers elicited the information that the letter of the law has
been fulfilled; central home work commissions for the main industries
and numerous regional committees have begun fixing minimum wages,
but these wages are not paid in actual practice.
This information is confirmed by an inspector, Miss Hedwig Lemberger.4 She states that the inspectors did not see their way to
enforce the awards of the commissions on a broad basis because of
the economic crisis. Enforcing the rules in particular cases, so she
states, would have meant throwing the particular workers out of their
employment; enforcing them generally would have destroyed the
ability of the Austrian industries to compete with foreign competi­
tors. Even Chinese competition is mentioned in that respect.
These views are strongly criticized even in Central Europe. The
point is made that industries should be allowed to disappear rather
than that the workers’ standards should be lowered to those of the
Chinese. But the economic crisis obviously fetters all parties con­
cerned, and the inspectors evidently believe themselves to be acting
in accordance with humanitarian considerations when disregarding
the letter of the law. The Austrian experience, stronger even than
the German experience, shows the weakness of these recent laws.

Absence of Results
*P\ R. K A E T H E LEICH TER, of the Viennese Workers’ Chamber,
told an inquirer5 that “ the law seems to be inapplicable. The
control does not work. [The reason has been explained.] Unem­
ployment among the home workers has not increased because the
determinations are not applied. But the unemployment among the
factory workers has been increased through the competition of the
low-paid home workers.”
* Arbeit und W irtschaft, Vienna. September, 1926: “ Die Wirksamkeit autoritiirer
Lohnfestsetzungen fiir die Heimarbeiterschaft,” by Hedwig Lemberger.
8 Statement to Engelbert Broda in Vienna, who was asked to inquire into the facts.



Thus the result of the nonenforcement of the awards seems to be
that unemployment is displaced but not avoided, while the starvation
wages remain a net loss to the community. Doctor Leichter states
that a new law, giving better representation in the commissions to
the home workers, is being prepared by a socialist deputy.

'T 'H E new Republic took over the principles of the Austrian legisA lation and passed a law similar to that of the Austrian Republic.6
It provides (art. 9) for the establishment of central commissions
with functions analogous to those provided in the Austrian law. It
states (art. 21), howevet, that collective agreements remain in force
notwithstanding the fixation of minimum wages but that the parties
to a collective contract may, in such case, withdraw from the same.

Principle of Wage Fixation
jVTO definite instructions are given to the boards. Bargaining
as in Germany, seems to be the central feature. The Minister
of Social Welfare states that the wage is fixed by compromise
between the parties.7

nPIIE work of the home work commissions in 1924 is reviewed by
J. Sirotek in an article in Socialni Revue (July, 1925), published
by the Ministry of Social Welfare. Only one of the central commis­
sions, that for the glass industry, was successful in 1924 in establishing
an official scale of wages for the industry. The work of the other
central commissions and of the district commissions consisted mainly
in the settlement of local disputes as to wages and in giving advice
on various points submitted to them.
He is of the opinion that “ the operations of the commissions
were not of great importance, owing to the apathy of the workers
and the small interest taken in the work by the trade-unions.” He
points out that certain administrative difficulties, arising from the
provisions as to a “ quorum ” being necessary for decisions, are also
largely responsible for this failure and that an amendment to the
act in this respect will be indispensable.

A REPORT of the factory inspectorate in 19238 states that homework wages were reduced during 1923 by 10 to 40 per cent in
consequence of a rise in the exchange value of the currency and of
a fall of prices and general wages.
Some collective agreements were concluded. The home work act
was applied very slowly. Nevertheless the work of the home work
• International Labor Office. Legislative series 1920— Czechoslovakia 1 : A ct respecting
the regulation o f work and wages in home work, dated Dec. 12, 1919, Geneva r i9 2 0 ?l.
7 Letter to E. M. Burns dated Spet. 16, 1923.
8 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, January, 1925,
p. 88.
— -—



commission “ had some influence on wage rates.” For instance, the
central commission for the glass industry fixed a wage scale on the
occasion of a dispute in the glass-polishing industry.
The Minister of Social Insurance of Czechoslovakia9 states that
5 central and 30 district commissions were in existence at the end
of 1926. The glass industry had 5 district commissions and the
textile industry had 10. In general, the wage rates fixed are for
the whole Kepublic, though in certain cases different rates have been
fixed in the different Provinces.
From information available in the Ministry of Social Insurance
the number of home workers in that part of the Kepublic which
belonged formerly to Austria has decreased from 276,000 (latest
Austrian statistics) to 103,000 in 1924. The reduction applies par­
ticularly to the textile industry. As minimum wages had not, up to
1924, been fixed in that industry, the new legislation can not, however,
be held responsible for this development.
So far tangible results seem to be nearly as restricted as in Austria.
The double relative failure (in two countries where practically the
same law is applied but where industrial and psychological conditions
of application vary so drastically, one country being poor and the
other prosperous) would lead to the supposition that the law is to
blame. But the same type of wage boards functions reasonably well
in the home-work trades of Germany, Norway, Argentina, and above
all in Great Britain and Victoria.
We seem to come nearer the truth in concluding— pending further
developments in both countries— that the particular conditions in­
herent in both countries are responsible for that puzzling double
• International Labor Office. Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f w ork ),
No. 1 7 : Minimum wage-fixing machinery. Geneva, 1927, p. 151.

R AD E-U N ION organization is less developed in the agriculture
of most countries than in their industries. Agriculture, there­
fore, is in some respects like those unorganized or insufficiently or­
ganized trades for which legal fixation of minimum wage has been
proposed as a substitute for regulation of wages by collective agree­
ments between associations of employers and of employees, or for
industrial strikes. This is particularly true of large-scale agriculture
where the semipatriarchial customs of small farms have given way
to more impersonal relations. Most countries on the European
Continent, with their preponderance of small peasant holdings, do
not attempt to regulate the wages of farm labor. Italy and Mexico
include agricultural laborers in their general systems of wage regu­
lation, Australia does so only partially, and South Africa excludes
them entirely. But in three other countries with large-scale agri­
culture and many agricultural laborers— Great Britain, Uruguay,
and Hungary— specific minimum wage laws have been passed for
these agricultural laborers.


a g i 1 U U 1 L U 1 ixi. Y v a g c o ---- u x o t

u j

x u im x u u u i

w age, an u

x a tc i


u u iitm -

ation. A definite step back to minimum wage was taken when a
new minimum wage act became law on August 7, 1924.1 The law
provides for a central board and regional committees (art. 1), both
composed of representatives of employers and of workers and mem­
bers appointed by the Government. The regional committees are
called upon to fix the rates. (Art. 2.) The central board reviews the
decisions and intervenes if the committees have not done their duty
under the act. (Arts. 3, 5.) In the course of the parliamentary de­
bate, the point was urged that the bill itself prescribe figures below
which no county should go, but such a provision was not included in
the bill. The committees, therefore, have an entirely free hand.2

Principle of Wage Fixation
OM MITTEES shall, so far as practicable, secure for able-bodied
men wages “ adequate to promote efficiency and to enable a man
in an ordinary case to maintain himself and his family in accordance
with such standard of comfort as may be reasonable in relation to
the nature of his occupation.” (Art. 2, sec. 4.) The “ living-wage ”
1 Great Britain. Pub. Gen. Stats. 14 and 15, Geo. V, 1924, vol. 62, ch. 37, p. 2 6 8 :
Agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924.
a M onthly Labor Review, October, 1924, p. 90.




and the “ fair-wage ” principles are thus combined. There is further
a very interesting point in the stipulation that the wage has to
promote efficiency. To apply precise measurements will be difficult,
but the endeavor may lead to fruitful investigations.

Application of the Law
A D M IN ISTR ATIV E regulations issued on September 24 and 27,
1924,3 provided that both as regards the central board and the 47
regional committees, the representatives of the employers are to be
nominated by the National Farmers’ Union, and the National Union
of Agricultural Workers and the Workers’ Union are to nominate
the workers’ representatives. Five additional members of the wages
board are to be appointed by the Minister of Agriculture and
Fisheries. Two members of a regional committee are appointed by
the minister, while the chairman is chosen by the committee itself.
Certain benefits and advantages are to be reckoned as part payment
of the minimum wages and the committees are required to define
them.4 In the summer of 1925 weekly rates were fixed, which varied
in the 48 areas from 29s. in one area, 29s. 2d. in two areas, and 30s.
in 15 areas, up to 37s. 6d. in one area.6 Up to September 30, 1925,
no piecework rates had been fixed. The ministry had declined to
reconsider the rates in Shropshire and Norfolk, stating that recon­
sideration would be justified only in case of new circumstances,6 and
so the decisions of the committees are final as long as the facts remain
the same as they were at the time of the award.
Up to September 30, 1925, the committees had received 10,846
applications from male workers and 63 from female workers for
permission to work at lower rates; 8,946 (about 8 per cent of the
number of male workers, which wTas 579,371) had been granted to
workers who, in the opinion of the committee, were incapable on
account of physical injury or mental deficiency, infirmity due to age,
or other reason to earn the minimum rates.7 Up to the spring of 1925
employers who paid less than the minimum prescribed were merely
made to pay arrears of wages; from that time on it was decided to
prosecute them. The minister declared in the House of Commons on
August 3, 1925, that he would not hesitate, in case of deliberate
evasion, to prosecute and to secure for the worker the benefits to
which he is entitled by the act of Parliament.8
The report on the operation of the act during 1925-269 states that
the regional committees were inclined at first to fix wages for a short
time— up to six months— but that the frequent revisions necessitated
thereby had induced them to fix wages for longer periods. The
average minimum wage for adult male workers had during the year
been increased from 31s. 5d. to 31s. 8d. The women were paid
8 Great Britain. M inistry o f Agriculture and Fisheries. Report o f proceedings under
the agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924, for the year ending Sept. 30, 1925, Lon­
don. 1926.
*Idem, p. 8.
5 Idem, p. 12.
6 Idem, p. 20.
7 Idem, p. 23.
8 Idem, p. 25.
9 Great Britain. M inistry o f Agriculture and Fisheries. Report o f the proceedings
under the agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924, for the year ending Sept. 30, 1926.
London, 1927.


mainly on an hourly basis, at rates from 4y2d. to 6d. for adults. On
September 30, 1926, there were in force 10,454 permits to work below
the minimum rates. During the year 1,626 complaints had been re­
ceived. About 800 of them were dealt with by inspectors, and £6,150
recovered for the workers. The minister states it as his opinion
that in some districts, particularly those near industrial centers, the
average weekly wages somewhat exceeded the minimum wages, while
in a large part of the country the minimum wages only were paid.
The minimum wage thus tended to become the standard wages for
ordinary work. Extra remuneration was received for employment
with animals and for harvest and other seasonal work.

O I R H E N R Y R EW , deputy chairman of the Agricultural Wages
^ Board,10 established under the law preceding the present one,
expressed the opinion that the working hours of agricultural laborers
had been reduced in consequence of the board’s activity, although
none of its regulations directly ordered a change in the hours of labor.
The committee simply stated when overtime work was to begin, leav­
ing the employer free to have the workers toil as long as they might
agree, he always to pay them for overtime. Nevertheless, this stipu­
lation had influenced both parties. The employers hesitated to pay
overtime, and the employees, which is characteristic, hesitated to
work overtime notwithstanding the increased payments they might
receive. The wages fixed had been criticized from the employers’
side as being higher than those which would have resulted from the
free play of economic forces. Workers’ representatives had claimed
that they might have obtained higher wages by trade-union action.
Sir Henry Rew, however, finds that the increase in agricultural
wages proceeded in an equitable way, parallel with the increase in
industrial wages. As the old law was similar to the new one, that
statement holds to a certain extent its significance. The average
wage of agricultural workers was 18s. in 1914.11 Up to 1917 it had
increased 39 per cent, while the cost of living had increased 80 per
cent— a decrease in real wages. During the first wage-board period,
from 1918 to 1921, the real wages increased. A t the end of the
period the wages had risen 135 per cent and the cost of living 120
per cent. During the period from 1921 to 1924, the increase in wages
compared with 1914 was lower than the increase in the cost of living.
At the end of 1924 it was only 56 per cent as compared with an in­
crease in the cost of living of 81 per cent. The real wages were lower
than before the war.
During the second wage-board period the nominal wages rose in the
summer of 1925 to a figure 75 per cent12 over that of 1914, while the
cost of living was 73 per cent over pre-war figures. The real wages
were again at the same level as before the war. They were distinctly
10 Great Britain.. A gricultural W ages Board. W ages Board Gazette, London, Dec. 1,
1920, p. 549.
11 Great Britain. M inistry o f A griculture and Fisheries. R eport on proceedings under
the agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924, fo r the year ending Sept. 80, 1925. London,
1926, p. 58.
12 Seventy-six per cent in 1926— Great Britain. M inistry o f A griculture and Fisheries.
Report o f proceedings under the agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924, fo r the year
ending Sept. 30, 1926. London, 1927.



higher than in the period preceding the reestablishment of the wage
board. Thus in both the first and second wage-board periods the
real wages of the agricultural workers increased, while these wages
decreased in the intermediate period. The effect of the wage-board
system on the increase of real wages seems thereby to be clearly
The report18 states that the permits issued under the act had
enabled employers to retain that class of workers whose employment
might otherwise have been prejudiced by the minimum rates. The
minister states it as his opinion that there had been “ no appreciable
unemployment amongst regular farm hands ” during the year under
consideration. The general fear that minimum wages deprive work­
ers of their jobs and increase unemployment had not been realized.
The fact is doubly significant for Great Britain, with its great indus­
trial unemployment.
British agricultural experience differs from that of other countries
in that minimum wages have tended to become maximum wages.
Nevertheless, the average real wages have been greatly benefited by
the legislation, and the workers are better off than they would be
without the law.
The prices of agricultural products in July, 1923, were 53 per cent
over those of pre-war time; in July, 1924 (before fixation of mini­
mum wages), 52 per cent over pre-war time; and in July, 1925 (after
the fixation of the minimum wages), 51 per cent over pre-war time.14
There does not seem to have been any influence by minimum wages
on agricultural prices, and thereby on the welfare of the general
population. It remains to be seen, when the act has been in force for
a longer period, whether greater efficiency will make up to a certain
extent for the higher wages, or whether increasing the cost of pro­
duction will make harder the situation of the farmers and finally
decrease the area in Great Britain suitable for proper agricultural
The problem has been somewhat clarified by an inquiry by Mr.
Orwin, director of the Agricultural Economic Research Institute of
the University of Oxford, the results of which were presented to the
Royal Society of Arts.15 The business administration of 24 farms in
the South Midlands was examined and it was found that 14 worked
with an original loss and 3 others would have had losses if they had
had to pay their laborers the usual wages of unskilled workers. For
25 farms in the eastern counties it was found that 5 were then worked
with a loss, and 10 more would cease to pay their way if they had to
pay the wages paid to unskilled workers. While individual enter­
prises working at a loss generally disappear automatically, the same
does not hold true, at least not immediately, as to traditional British
farming where the owner clings desperately to the calling of his fore­
fathers. But in the long run insolvency and abandonment of the
farms would, of course, naturally follow. Mr. Orwin concludes that
18 Great Britain. Ministry o f Agriculture and Fisheries. Report on proceedings under
the agricultural wages (regulation) act, 1924, for the year ending Sept. 30, 1925. Lon­
don, 1926, p. 31.
14 Idem, pp. 58, 59.
15 Journal o f the R oyal Society o f Arts, London, May 20, 1927.



with State regulation farms would have to be converted into large
scale experiments with better machinery and better organization
where higher wages would be justified and made possible by greater

T H E year 1923 Uruguay established a minimum wage for agri­
I Nculture.1
6 The method, however, is essentially different from that
of the great majority of other countries providing minimum wages,
no boards being instituted, the law itself fixing the minimum wage.
The law provides that workers between 18 and 55 years of age em­
ployed on big agricultural enterprises or on cattle ranches (assessed
at 20,000 pesos17 or more) shall receive a minimum wage of 18 pesos
a month or 72 centesimos a day. (Art. 1.) On very large estates (as­
sessed at more than 60,000 pesos) the minimum wage is raised to 20
pesos a month or 80 centesimos a day. (Art. 2.) Exemptions are pro­
vided for in the case of workers with physical defects or who, for
similar reasons, can not be expected to earn the minimum wage. (Art.
3.) The exemptions shall be fixed by regional councils with the coop­
eration of the health officers. The workers have the right to choose
between the obligation of the employer to provide them with health­
ful accommodation and sufficient food or 12 pesos a month (50 centesi­
mos a day. (Art. 5).
Violations of the provisions of the act are punishable by a fine of
10 pesos per day for every worker concerned; in case of repeated
violations a fine of 25 pesos per day for each worker is imposed.
(Art. 6.)

Application of the Act
A PR IL 8,1924, regulations were issued for the practical appli­
ON cation
of the act.18 Special work books are issued to facilitate
supervision of the observance of the act. Workers are entitled to
bring suit before a justice of the peace and, concurrently, the in­
spectors of labor may intervene.

Principle of Wage Fixation
the legislature itself fixed the minimum wage no instruc­
tions as to principles to be applied were needed.
To compare the principle of a wage ratio fixed by statute with the
principles applied in other countries the psychological and economic
facts must necessarily be relied on, for precise data as to the motives
which brought about the law are not available. The “ fair-wage ”
principle scarcely enters into consideration, as agriculture as a whole
is sui generis; its remuneration can not well be fixed on the basis of
the remuneration prevalent in any other industry. While the prin­
ciple, “ wages the trade can bear,” might enter into account to a cer­
18 International Labor Office. Legislative series 1923— Uruguay 1 : A ct respecting a
minimum wage for agricultural workers, dated Feb. 15, 1923. Geneva.
17 A t par, peso = $1.0342; centesim o= 1.0342 cents.
“ International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1924— Uruguay 1 : Decree issuing
regulations under the act o f Feb. 15, 1923, respecting a minimum wage for agricultural
workers, dated Apr. 8, 1924. Geneva.



tain extent, because the agricultural products of Uruguay have to be
exported and wages over a certain limit might endanger the competi­
tive power of Uruguayan agriculture, there is no reason to believe
that the wages come anyways near that upper limit. Considerations
as to the guaranty of a minimum of existence (living wage) may
have played their role, but from the general prosperity of Uruguay
it may be concluded that wages are considerably above the lower
It seems that another principle, not applied elsewhere to a large
extent, has been of prime importance in Uruguay— the comparative
political strength of the various parties in Parliament, especially the
political power of agricultural laborers. The wage problem thereby
becomes a political question.

Tj^ROM personal observation by one of them on some large agriA cultural enterprises in Uruguay, Percy A. Martin and Earl M.
Smith conclude that the law has proved a distinct success.19 The
workers seem to be well aware of the terms of the law. Reports are
universally kept, the inspectors check up on the application of the law,
and employers are forced to observe it. During 1926 there were 139
violations where fines were collected. One particular fraud con­
sisted in underpayment of the workers although these workers signed
receipts for the higher regulation wage.
The average wage of agricultural workers has gradually risen to
18 pesos a month, the amount fixed by the law as the minimum for
medium-sized enterprises. The general objective of the law there­
fore seems to have been attained.

AN agricultural wages order of February 24, 1921,20 provided
maximum wages in agriculture, according to the kind of work
and the season. The order states that workers shall not “ in virtue
of any contract claim wages more than the wages so determined.”
(Sec. 2.)
An act for the establishment of minimum wages was passed on
May 2 8 ,1923.21 When the daily wages of agricultural laborers, paid
in money or kind, in any district are so low (taking into account
seasonal changes and agricultural conditions) that these wages consti­
tute an “ excessive and unjustifiable exploitation ” and are insufficient
“ for the maintenance of the worker and of his family,” anyone may
petition the Minister of Agriculture to interfere. (Art. 2.)® The
minister shall, after ascertaining the views of the competent chamber
of agriculture, issue a decree fixing minimum wage rates.
19 M onthly Labor Review, October, 1927, p. 1 4 : “ Labor legislation in Uruguay,” by
Percy A. Martin and Earl M. Smith.
20 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State, London, 1926, p. 113.
81 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1923— Hungary 3 : A ct No. 25 o f
1923, respecting the prevention o f the unjustifiable exploitation o f the labor o f agricul­
tural workers, dated May 28, 1923. Geneva, p. 5.
° Ungarische Reichsgesetzsamlung fiir das Jahr 1923, authentische Ubersetzung. Buda­
pest, p. 296.



As auxiliaries to the minister, agricultural wages committees are
to be established, these committees to be composed of a chairman and
vice chairman, two members chosen by representative committees of
workers and two in the same way by landowners possessing more
than 10 yokes22 of land— one of the latter to be chosen by land­
owners possessing between 10 and 100 yokes, and one by owners
possessing more than 100 yokes. (Arts. 3, 4.) In addition, four sub­
stitute members are to be chosen for each committee in the same way.
These committees shall fix minimum wages, taking into account the
working capacity, age, and sex of the workers, and the nature of
their work. (Art. 9.) Any member of the committee or the com­
petent inspector may submit to the minister a protest against the
decision of the committee fixing the wage. The minister, having all
the documents before him, issues the decree fixing the minimum wage.
The law provides penalties for infringements of the wage orders
by employers and also authorizes workers to sue them for the differ­
ence between the wages paid and those fixed by wage orders. (Art.


Principle of Wage Fixation
1YIO instructions are given to the boards, but as the test for starting
^ proceedings under the law is nonpayment of a living wage in
a given region, that principle must obviously be taken into account
in fixing the minimum wage.

Application of the Law
TN 1926, 198 committees had been set up. Forty-eight took action
during the year. Minimum wage rates were in force in 759
communes. No complaints from workers that wages lower than those
fixed had been paid to them had reached the Minister of Agriculture.
No agent intrusted with enforcement of the rules reported any in­
fringement of the determinations. The minister states it to be his
opinion that: “ The wage rates fixed by the commissions have had a
beneficial influence on the wages of agricultural day laborers.” 23

T^ISPU TES in agricultural enterprises are covered by an arbitration act passed in 1919.24 Both parties to such disputes must
submit them to conferences arranged by the inspectors of agricultural
labor, using a conciliation or arbitration board consisting of repre­
sentatives of both sides, under an impartial chairman; otherwise
they are fined. Agreements so arrived at bind not only the parties
to the agreement but all agriculturists of the region.
38 Y o k e = 1.422 acres.
28 International Labor Office. Studies and Reports, series D (wages and hours o f
w ork), No. 1 7 : Minimum Wage-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, i927, p. 152.
“ Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, p. 112.

E W ZEALAN D and several Australian States have developed
their methods for settlement in industrial disputes to such an
extent that they imply State regulation of industry and the
determination of wages by industrial courts. No European State has
proceeded in the same fashion. Two States, however, have organized
their industrial life under control of the State in a way which, ex­
ceeding even the fixation of minimum wages, implies to a large extent
determination of general wages by State authorities. Italy and
Russia have proceeded along that road, though in different ways. A
general examination of their industrial systems would, of course,
exceed the scope of the present study, and therefore the following
discussion will be restricted to those aspects'of the question which
parallel the minimum wage problem in other countries.


The Italian Corporate State
'T 'H E Italian Government itself has emphasized the opinion that
A its industrial legislation implies a method for the solution of
the problems attacked elsewhere by minimum wage legislation. In
its reply to the questionnaire of the International Labor Office as to
the proposed international convention on minimum wage legislation,
it points out that it considers its legislation “ the most complete and
appropriate means of regulating minimum wages in the trades in
question,” and expresses the desire that the conference examine
“ whether account should be taken of the Italian system in the
framing of its proposals.” 1 The Italian Government claims for
its system that it “ removes in its early stages and attacks at its root
the primary cause of the evils which the conference proposes to deal
with in its decisions— i. e. the absence of organization among the
workers— and gives the workers the benefit of collective agreements
and a guaranty that collective disputes will be equitably settled by
the machinery of the conciliation and other bodies specially set up
for the purpose.”
The Government considers it desirable “ that the decisions of the
conference should be based on the methods adopted in the present
connection not only in some States but in all the States members of
the organization.1
The general principles of the legislation referred to are laid down
in a “ charter of labor” (carta del lavoro).2 The charter was pre­
ceded by a law on collective labor relations,3 and by a royal decree
thereon issued on July 1, 1926.4 The law of April 3, 1926, provides
1 International Labor Conference, eleventh session, Geneva, May, 1928.
Report on
Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, International Labor Office, 1928, p. 18.
2 Gazzetta Ufficiale, Apr. 30, 1927, No. 100.
8 Idem, Apr. 14, 1926, No. 87.
4 Pennachio, A lb e rto : The Corporative State. New York, Italian H istorical Society,
1927, appendix.




(art. 1) that employers’ and employees’ associations which have
voluntarily enrolled at least one-tenth of the workers of the industry,
whose status “ promotes the welfare and education (especially the
moral and national education) of their members,” and whose directors
“ give proof of their competence, good moral behavior, and positive
faith in the nation,” may be legally recognized.
“ Collective labor contracts negotiated by legally recognized asso­
ciation * * * apply to the whole industry.” (Art. 10.) A ll con­
troversies concerning collective labor relations arising out of the
application of collective contracts, or in connection with any condi­
tions to be fixed for labor, are to be settled by a special section of
the courts of appeals. (Arts. 13, 14.) Strikes and lockouts are pun­
ished by fines (art. 18), and in case of State and public-utility enter­
prises, by solitary confinement (art. 19). Directors of legally recog­
nized associations who refuse to carry out the decision of the labor
magistrate are punished by imprisonment. (Art. 22.)
Articles 4 and 5 of the charter of labor sum up the basic provisions:
The collective labor contract gives concrete expression to the common interest
of the various elements of production (capital and labor) by reconciling con­
flicting interests of employees and subordinating these to the higher interests
of production at large. The labor court is the organ through which the State
acts in settling labor controversies, whether these arise in connection with
observances of rules or agreements already made or in connection with new
conditions to be fixed for labor.

Trade associations (consisting of the legally recognized employers’
and employees’ associations of the trade) are “ required ” to regulate
by collective contracts the labor relations of the industry. These
collective labor contracts must, under penalty of voidance, contain,
among other stipulations, statements of the “ amounts and manner
of payment of wages.” (Art. 11.) I f wages are based on piecework,
piece payments must give a chance to the faithful worker of average
ability “ to earn a minimum in excess of the basic wage.” (Art. 14.)
Collective labor contracts extend also to home workers.” (Art. 21.)
In 1926, 1,060 labor agreements were negotiated— 26 national, 39
regional, 199 provincial, and 796 local.6 Agreements seem to show
a tendency toward a gradual increase in wages. Cost-of-living
allowances are added to the wage scale, with the provision that they
may be revised after an interval of three months.7 In October, 1926,
2,121,240 worker's were organized in the National Confederation of
Fascist Syndicates.8 Wages in agriculture have been settled on a
broad scale through collective agreements by compromise between
the parties.9
The thorough application of the above-cited provisions has so
far been guaranteed by the dictatorial regime in Italy. The main­
tenance of these conditions implies the development of an organic
system of legal fixation of wages, based on cooperation of the inter­
ested parties, but under the direction of the State.®
6 Pennachio, A lb e rto : The Corporative State. New York, Italian H istorical Society,
1927, p. 68.
* Idem, p. 70.
b Idem, p. 66.
®International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, January, 1927.
p. 51.
"S p ain , since 1927, follow s the example o f Italy (p. 90 ). The constructive economic
provisions o f the “ Corporate State ” seem likely to be applied also in countries where
political conditions are not quite those prevailing in Italy.



Russian State Trusts
rF H E problem of wage fixation in State enterprises is essentially
different from that of wage determination in private in­
dustries. The interest in maintaining the low cost of production,
which is, in the nature of things, the main interest of the private
employer, is only one of the interests of the State employer, which
is also inherently interested in the welfare, purchasing power, and
§ood feeling of its employees— its citizens. The weapon used by
tate employees in modern democratic States is rarely the threat to
strike; much more generally it is pressure brought to bear on public
opinion and on parliament. The considerations which are of deci­
sive influence for determination of wages by State authorities are, to
a certain extent at least, similar to those which dictate the attitude
of State representatives on boards elsewhere which fix wages for
private industries, although the economic self-interest of the State
employer divides, to a certain extent, the two problems. In Russia,
by far the greater part of big industrial enterprises are managed
by the State, and State fixation of wages in industry is therefore
largely an accomplished fact. The principles of that State fixa­
tion may in a way be compared with the principles of legal fixation
of wages elsewhere.
The wage policy for these enterprises is outlined in the order as to
general wages, issued on June 17, 1920. That order prescribes that
the time needed for thoroughly learning the trade, the injuriousness
and danger of the conditions under which the work is carried out,
the arduousness of the work, and the degree of responsibility for its
performance should be taken into account when drawing up schedules
of wages.10
On September 16, 1921, other general regulations were issued for
wage payment in State enterprises.11 These regulations provide for
a minimum wage, to be increased in proportion to increasing produc­
tion. No effort is to be made to equalize wage scales for workers of
different grades. The share in the wage budget of the nation attrib­
uted to each factory is to be proportional not to the number of
workers but to the unit of manufacture. The total wage budget
must vary with the national production. Premiums on production
are allowed to the individual establishments, to be divided among the
A decree of November 10,1921, provides that—
The total payment allocated to each factory shall not be decreased even
though the number of employees are decreased as a result of more efficient
management. * * * Should a lower percentage only of the program have
been completed, the amount of supplies distributed among the factory em­
ployees on account of wages shall be diminished accordingly for that month.12

Prof. Roswell Johnson, on his return from an investigation in
various parts of Russia, reported in the autumn of 1927 that com­
pulsory arbitration has been established, both for industries leased
to outside concerns and for State-owned trusts. In the latter
10 Burns, E. M .: Wages and the State. London, 1926, p. 112.
11 Journal o f Political Economy, Chicago, A pril, 1922, p. 2 7 7 : “ Russian wage systems
under communism,” by Amy Hewes.
“ Idem, pp. 277, 278.



case, management and labor are equally represented on the arbitra­
tion boards, while the casting vote rests with a representative of the
political government.
The report of the American Trade-Union Delegation18 refers to
the influence of the trade-unions which have become more inde­
pendent since the introduction of the new economic policy, dividing
industry between State and private enterprises. These unions make
collective agreements with both State trusts and private concerns.
There are strikes in private enterprises but practically none in State
enterprises. There are several institutions for settling disputes ber
tween the management and the workers— the standardization-conflict committees in the factory, the mediation chamber, and the
arbitration board. The bargaining for wage rates is left to the
standardization-conflict committees in the factories, on which both
management and workers are represented.
The two other more formal stages of conciliation and arbitration
are regulated by the labor code promulgated in 1922 (sec. 168 et
seq.).14 There is compulsion only in the case of violation of provi­
sions of labor legislation or of collective or individual employment
contracts. There are no legislative provisions against strikes.
The central authorities of the Russian trade-unions have, how­
ever, taken a firm stand against strikes in State undertakings.15
During the first half of 1925 industrial disputes involved 426,241
workers, of whom 394,358 worked in State enterprises, 26,507 in pub­
lic and cooperative enterprises, and 5,376 in private enterprises.
These disputes have in the majority of cases been settled by concilia­
tion or arbitration. Strikes sanctioned by unions involved only
1,972 workers in private and cooperative enterprises, and strikes in
State enterprises, breaking out contrary to the trade-union policy,
involved 22,255 workers. As to these strikes in State enterprises,
disputes involving 6,568 workers were settled to the advantage of
the workers; disputes with 12,886 workers by compromise; and dis­
putes with 3,101 workers ended with failure for them. As to the
small strikes in private enterprises, 23 ended with success for the
workers, 6 by compromise, and 5 by failure.
The number of workers involved in disputes, particularly when
new collective agreements had to be concluded, showed a strong
upward tendency in the second half of 1925.16
As regards the general problem of the fixation of wages it appears,
therefore, that in private enterprises there exist systems of concilia­
tion and arbitration to reduce strikes, but no legal fixation of wages
and no application of minimum wage. In the State enterprises,
which are practically all-important, strikes occur only as a rare
exception. The wages paid depend, on the one hand, on the wage
policy of the State, the principles of which have been analyzed
above, and, on the other hand, on the demands of the workers and on
18 American trade-union delegation to the Soviet Union. Russia after ten years—
report. New York, International Publishers, 1927, pp. 17-19.
14 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1922— Russia 1 : Labor code, dated
Nov. 9# 1922. Geneva.
18 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, August, 1926, p. 2 6 2 :
MLabor disputes in Soviet Russia.”
16 Idem, March, 1927, p. 4 5 0 : “ Labor disputes in Soviet Russia in 1924 and 1925.”

109931°— 28-------8



a system of conciliation and arbitration, achieving compromise
between both points of view.
While wages fixed by wage boards in other countries depend upon
a compromise between three factors— emplovers, employees, and
public authorities— in the great majority 01 Russian enterprises
(State owned) they depend on a compromise between the two lastnamed groups only— State and employees. With the domination of
the Communist Party over the State as well as over the trade-unions,
there is even, as regards final decision of the supreme authorities,
unity rather than dualism, and the present position does not seem to
be very different from that reported for 1921— fixation of wages
by the party dominant in the State.
Comparing this wage-fixing policy of the Russian State with wagefixing systems of other countries, it may be noted from the above­
cited regulations that the main principle of Russian wage policy
is the ability of national production to bear the wage budget. In
Australasia also this same principle is the dominant feature of the
decision of the arbitration courts. Ability of the individual industry
to bear the charges is less important in Russia, as the various State
trusts, although maintaining to a certain extent a separate legal ex­
istence, are yet part of the general system of State production. It
may be noted also that the Russian wage-fixing policy puts more
emphasis on premiums for increase of production than is generally
the case in collective-labor agreements or awards for wage fixation

Main Currents
H E preceding chapters have shown that different types of minimum-wage legislation have developed in different regions of the
world and in the different types of social organizations, but that
inside of each of these regional and social groups fairly homogeneous
types of minimum wage have evolved.
In the United States women in shops and stores, for purely humani­
tarian reasons, are the beneficiaries of the minimum wage.
In most parts of the British Empire the application of minimum
wage has started with home work and been extended to unorganized
trades generally, and from them to all trades (point reached in Aus­
tralasia), while Canada, combining generally British and American
traits of social organization, also combines British and American
traits of minimum wage (laws mainly but not exclusively for women,
with a strong tendency for extension of the laws).
The three countries whose forms of government have been changed
recently through social revolutions— Mexico, Russia, and Italy— tend
toward general legal fixation of wages, Mexico through a typical but
comprehensive minimum wage law for all workers and Russia and
Italy through organization of industry under State control.
Home-work legislation has always been and still remains typical
for several democratic States on the Continent of Europe and for
Argentina, with a tendency for further development along British
States with large-scale agriculture and a numerous class of rural
wage earners (Great Britain, Hungary, and Uruguay) apply mini­
mum wage to agricultural workers.
There are a few experiments which seem to nullify that generaliza­
tion of a precise relationship between type of minimum wage and
general ‘regional and social characteristics of the countries, but when
examining these apparent exceptions from the rule it will be found
that these experiments away from type, sometimes started with great
hopes, have either been abandoned as unsuccessful or have been
maintained only in restricted fields without much success.


Odd Forms
Minimum Wage in British Coal Mines
YfyTHILE home work, unorganized trades, and agricultural labor
* ^ are exposed to sweating, and minimum wage legislation had for
its primary object the abolition of sweating, the problem is different
in the coal mines. Certainly the fate of the miners is also a hard




one, but they are well organized and know how to defend their inter­
ests, as was shown by the recent general strike. But the use of this
weapon has been shown again and again to be extremely dangerous
to the general national prosperity. Prior to the grave experience
of 1926, a general strike in the English coal mines in 1912 showed
this. As an outcome of that strike a law was passed instituting
minimum wages for underground workers in the mines.

Joint district boards have been formed, composed of delegates
of workers and of mine owners, and presided over by an impartial
president chosen by the parties or, if they do not agree, by the board
of trade. These boards fix minimum wages and issue licenses to
old or defective workers authorizing them to work for lower wages.1
Great Britain has been divided into 23 mining districts, and in
each district a board has been constituted. In general the miner
is paid for piecework, and this has been in no way changed by the
law. The geologic structure of the mines, however, is not uniform.
There are bad places where the worker, with the best will in the
world, can not obtain sufficient results. In order for him to earn
a living it seemed necessary to supplement the piecework rates fixed
by voluntary agreement of the parties by a minimum rate for time
work. This was the work the boards had to accomplish.
Principle of Wage Fixation

The “ fair-wages ” principle is applied in fixing minimum wage
rates for miners. The average piecework rates paid for the par­
ticular job are the standard for fixing the minimum rates. The
point is to guarantee that nobody shall receive less than the gen­
eral rate on account of causes over which he has no control.
Time rates are calculated to match the average earnings under
piece rates. In France also piece rates for home workers have to be
calculated so as to match time rates in workshops. These instances
(British mines and French home work and recently also Spanish
home work) are probably the only ones where that particular variety
of the “ fair-wage” principle— adjustment of one wage method to
be “ just ” in comparison with another— is applied.

During the war the piecework rates increased several times, and
the boards then increased the minimum rates per hour, lliese
minimum wages have also a certain influence on the piece rates.
The mine owners, indeed, have an interest in the piecework rates
being higher than the minimum time rates. Otherwise the workers
would be tempted to abandon strenuous effort and take things easy,
being satisfied with the minimum rates, or, as they saj there, “to go
upon the minimum.” Wherever the minimum is applied preferably
production suffers. Nevertheless, the minimum rates have fre­
quently been increased, by collective contracts, beyond the amount
1 Stone, G ilbert: British Coal Industry.

London, 1919, p. 174.



fixed by the boards. Where that was not the case it was tacitly
understood that the legal rates were part of the cpntracts, determin­
ing the remuneration of labor. The public authorities participate in
the establishment but not in the enforcement of the minimum wages.2
Coal mining is not an unorganized trade, and the miners do not need
outside help for enforcing their wage contracts. They have ob­
tained the minimum-wage regulations by strikes and maintain
them as part of their general position toward the employers— one
based on mutual force.
Particular evils have been remedied by this legislation, but the
great strikes in the English mines in 1921 and 1926 have shown
that partial application of minimum wage (the piecework rates
which are outside the law are much more important) does not insure
industrial peace.
The New Zealand and the Italian types of compulsory arbitra­
tion are both safeguarded by stipulations against strikes and are
more effective in that way than a law embodying mere fixation
of minimum wages would be. In Victoria such a law has created
an atmosphere of confidence in legal fixation of wages which has de­
creased the fighting spirit, but we must remember that the general
prosperity of the Australian State has made it possible to increase
wages in a way satisfying labor and preventing dissatisfaction.
British conditions were quite different. General trade depression
and lack of economic management of the decentralized British
mines have created a grave problem— who, workers or employers,
shall bear the inevitable burden of decreasing the cost of produc­
tion and give back to the mines the economic strength needed to
maintain British coal mining in competition with other countries?
To decide such question, lenient measures tending toward har­
mony have thus far proved insufficient; they could not guarantee
peace in a service of essential public necessity like the mines.3
Compulsory Arbitration in Public Utility Services of Rumania
The New Zealand experiment of compulsory arbitration, which in
that country practically implies legal "fixation of wages, immediately
created intense interest in Europe. M. Millerand, at that time a
socialist leader and minister in France (later conservative President
of the Republic), has strongly advocated a similar law, without suc­
cess. The postrevolutionary legislation in Germany (particularly
the ordinance for industrial conciliation of October 30,19234) tended
in that direction but without leading to anything implying legal fixa­
tion of wages. Italy has taken more decisive steps; the background
there was essentially different, and the measure was part of a general
organization of industry. (See p. 104.)
The only European State where compulsory arbitration was ap­
plied and maintained as an isolated measure was Rumania. The
desire to prevent prejudice to general interests by differences be­
8 International Labor Office.
Studies and reports, series D (wages and hours o f
w ork), No. 1 7 : Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, 1927, pp. 81, 82.
8 W artime regulation o f wages, having been discontinued, need not be included in this
study devoted to problems o f present interest. The “ fair-wages clause ” in Government
contracts deserves to be mentioned, but also lies rather outside o f our field.
4 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1923— Germany 6 : Order respecting
conciliation, dated Oct. 30, 1923. Geneva.



tween the parties of a 'particular industry was the dominant motive.5
A law for conciliation in industry generally and for compulsory arbi­
tration in State and communal undertakings and public utility serv­
ices was passed on September 4, 1920.6 The arbitration commission
is composed of representatives of the parties to the dispute and a
chairman elected by them, or, if they disagree in their choice,
appointed by the Minister of Labor. (Arts. 18, 19.)
The award of the commission is binding (art. 25), violations en­
titling the injured party to claim damages (art. 32). Incitements
to strikes in public services are punished by imprisonment. (Art. 27.)
The law implies (art. 25) the possibility of fixation of wages by an
impartial authority, directed by considerations of equity and general
welfare. The machinery for conciliation has been used in practice.
In 1924 about 72 per cent of the disputes were settled by negotiations
through branches of the Ministry of Labor and nearly 17 per cent by
optional or compulsory arbitration, while onty about 11 per cent were
settled by direct negotiation between the parties.7 Twenty-three per
cent of the disputes resulted in strikes or lockouts, while 77 per
cent were settled peaceably. The proportion was the same in 1925.8
But while in New Zealand precedent after precedent has led to a
general fixation of wages, no such development is reported from
Unlike the Italian Government, the Rumanian Government does
not refer to its system of compulsory arbitration as a substitute for
other methods of minimum wage, but favors rather typical minimum
wage legislation for home workers.9
Minimum Wage for Commercial Employees in Norway
In Norway the legislation (enacted in August, 1918,10 providing
for minimum wages for commercial employees started as successfully
as the legislation in favor of home workers. The wages of the young
women particularly were raised to satisfactory standards, embodying
the principle of a living wage. The employers’ associations, how­
ever, claimed that they were frequently compelled to dismiss em­
ployees whose services were not important enough to them to justify
the yearly increases of salaries prescribed by the sliding wage scales.
Occurrences of that kind have been confirmed by observations of
the home-work council. Public opinion was irritated by these com­
plaints and the associations of male employees also became lukewarm
in their defense of the law. Their members were dissatisfied on
account of the necessity of suing the employers in order to re­
cover back wages. Generally, they did not dare to do so while
employed; if dismissed, they brought suit and frequently recovered
high amounts, but employers considered that practice unfair, and
8 Royaume de Roumanie. Lois et reglements. Loi sur la reglementation des conflits
collectifs des travail et son exposS des motifs, par Gr. L. Tranco-Jassy, Ministre du Travail,
Bucarest, 1920.
6 International Labor Office. Legislative series, 1920— Roumania 4 : A ct concerning the
regulation o f collective labor disputes, dated Sept. 4, 1920. Geneva.
7 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, January, 1926, p. 97.
8 G. Tranco-Jassy, Ministre du T ra v a il: La legislation sociale en Roumanie. Bucarest,
1926, p. 30.
0 International Labor Conference, eleventh session, Geneva, May, 1926.
R eport on
Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery. Geneva, International Labor Office, 1928.
10 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, December, 1925,
p. 8 0 9 : “ Minimum wage legislation in Norway,” by Fredrik Voss.



often refused to employ men who had sued their previous employers.
Much hardship ensued. Official inspection might have removed the
difficulty, but public opinion was not ripe for broadening the scope of
the law. In vain the home-work council issued a statement that
maintenance of the law was still needed for female employees who
were insufficiently organized. When, in 1925, the law came before
Parliament for renewal, it was voted down by the upper chamber.
The insufficiency of the mere right to bring civil suits in case of
infringement of the law (the principle applied also in France,
although in a broader way), and the greater usefulness of enforce­
ment by public authority (the principle applied in all Anglo-Saxon
countries) is confirmed by this Norwegian experience.
There seems also to have been lacking a sufficient impetus to main­
tain a minimum wage law for groups of employees needing it as
much as, but not more than, other branches of industry.
Minimum wage for female employees alone might have been
defended on stronger grounds. But such differential protection of
one sex in wage matters, familiar to the American legislator, is rather
outside of the European tradition.11 The experiment was dis­
u France enacted specific legislation for female home workers, but extended its benefits
to men working under identical conditions. The law referred rather to a predominantly
female section o f the industrial organization where there were abuses than to particular
protection for one sex.

OES minimum wage legislation develop in a particular, more
or less uniform, direction? There seems to be a marked
parallelism between the state of that development in Australasia
about 1900, in England about 1912, and on the Continent of Europe
at present. It
characterized by the gradual extension of minimum
wage legislation to all home-work trades, although not yet to un­
organized trades generally. Besides that general tendency, there are
the more universal systems in countries whose form of government
has been changed through social revolution, and the legislation in
favor of female workers in shops and stores in the United States
and Canada. Great Britain and Australasia have gradually extended
their laws, until to-day Great Britain has minimum wage legislation
for all unorganized trades, including agriculture, and Australasia
minimum wage for practically all workers. There are also some odd
laws for other groups of workers. There remain, however, many
countries without any minimum wage legislation, and they are
enabled thereby to keep their cost of production low, through low
wages paid to home workers, etc., and to obtain in that way an advan­
tage over their competitors in the world markets.
The International Labor Organization has for its general objective
uniformity of social legislation, thus equalizing cost of produc­
tion and enabling progressive countries to advance without fear
of being placed at a disadvantage in competition with more con­
servative nation^. Minimum wage seems to be one of the most im­
portant mediums for the application of that procedure, and Albert
Thomas, director of the International Labor Office, has since 1920
favored the concluding of an international convention for establish­
ing minimum wage-fixing machinery in all States which are mem­
bers of the organization. Resolutions asking for an international
convention protecting home workers through minimum wage were
accepted on September 2, 1921, by an International Conference at
Geneva, called by the League for the organization of progress, and
in consequence similar resolutions were passed by institutions in
France, Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia.
There was resistance from the employers’ representatives, but
as international regulation helps the nations having protection of
home work against unfair competition from countries allowing
sweating to continue, the decisive proposal came quite naturally
from Sir Malcolm Delevingne, representative of the British Govern­
ment in the International Labor Organization, Great Britain al­
ready having efficient legislation raising the pay of home workers and
being interested in the equalization of competitive conditions. On
the proposal of the governing body, the International Labor Confer­
ence of 1927 discussed in first reading the problem of “ minimum
wage-fixing machinery in trades in which organization of employers





and workers is defective and where wages are exceptionally low,
with special reference to the home-working trades.” 1
A questionnaire was prepared by the International Labor Office
and adopted in a restricted form by the conference of 1927. The
idea was to ascertain thereby the views of all Governments and to
facilitate the drafting of such a convention as was likely to be
ratified by them all.
There was a rather lively debate at the conference of 1927 as to
the text of the questionnaire. Various employers’ representatives
expressed the desire that it refer to home workers only. They de­
sired to exclude other workers from the scope of the discussion in
view of the convention to be drafted in 1928.2 Mr. Gartner, dele­
gate of the German employers, claimed that Germany, having al­
ready enacted a law in favor of home workers, was not prepared to
go beyond that point, and moved an amendment to restrict the
questionnaire to home workers, Mr. Gassner, the delegate of the
German Government, seconding the motion. The contrary opinion
was defended by Mr. Nicholson, representative of the British Gov­
ernment, which protects both its home workers and its unorganized
factory workers by minimum wage, and has the natural desire to
avoid handicapping its industries in competition with countries
with low wages, made possible by the lack of such legislation. The
German proposition was lost by a vote of 61 to 34. By a vote of
89 to 22 it was decided to put the proposition on the agenda of the
1928 conference, only part of the employers’ delegates voting in the
negative. The representative of the British employers voted “ yes,”
while employers’ representatives from some other countries ab­
stained from voting. The representatives of the German Govern­
ment voted for the proposition although their amendment had been
The questionnaire submitted by Miss Hesselgren (Sweden) for
the committee tended toward restriction of the proposed convention
to a few general principles, while all details as to wage-fixing ma­
chinery and as to the particular application of the plan to home
work would be embodied in a recommendation.
The International Labor Office prepared very valuable data, which
not only were useful for the Governments which have to answer the
questionnaire and for the 1928 conference but also are useful for
the general scientific understanding of the problem.
To test the point of “ defective organization ” it has been sug­
gested that a comparison be made of the number of workers in a
trade who are covered by collective agreements with the total number
of workers in the trade. As one of the best methods to ascertain
where wages are exceptionally low, it has been proposed to compare
wages in a given occupation with those in allied trades.
The alternative standard of comparison would be the average
wages paid, for example, to unskilled workers in a large number of
1 Richardson, J. H., A Study on the Minimum Wage, London, 1927, p. 82. Mr. Rich­
ardson shows that real wages differ too much from country to country to make a uniform
minimum wage possible. But he considers as a possible future step in that direction an
agreement to prescribe in each country a minimum wage equal to a certain percentage o f
the average wages o f unskilled workers in well-organized industries in the country in
2 American Labor Legislation Review, New York, December, 1927: “ The M ove o f
Geneva fo r Minimum Wage Legislation,” by R. Broda (study based on the minutes o f the
conferen ce).



organized trades. Wages in any particular occupation might be
considered “ exceptionally low ” if they fall below a given percentage
of the average level.
These scientific provisions for determining the trades where minimum-wage-fixing machinery is particularly desirable and the argu­
ments advanced for and against the different tests may, of course,
also be of value for nonmember countries which will not become
signatories of the international convention and recommendation.
Up to January 21, 1928, 22 Governments had replied to the ques­
tionnaire.8 All Governments except those of the three Scandinavian
countries (Denmark, Norway, and Sweden) and of the Province of
Quebec in their replies favor an international agreement for the
establishment of minimum wage-fixing machinery. Norway and
the Province of Quebec, which have minimum wage legislation, do
not give any reason for their negative reply.4 Denmark and Sweden
start from the consideration that their workers are sufficiently or­
ganized to take care of themselves and that there is no need in these
countries for minimum wage-fixing machinery. All the other coun­
tries, including 10 which at present have no minimum wage legis­
lation, are in favor of the convention, and there seems therefore
to be reason to believe that they will ratify the convention and
establish legislation, which so far has not been enacted in their
The answers as to scope of the machinery— whether or not to re­
strict it to home workers—were so divergent that the International
Labor Office concluded in favor of a very general convention, leaving
the Governments free to decide for what groups of trade machinery
should be created.5
The answers of the Governments as to the principle of wage fixa­
tion to be developed were very divergent. Many Governments ex­
pressed the view that the individual country should be left free in that
matter; others pointed to various considerations— capacity of the par­
ticular trade to pay, general level of wages, cost of living— and stated
it to be impossible to decide a uniform way as to the dominating
factor to be accepted.6 The International Labor Office concluded from
these replies that it i,s desirable to mention the wage-fixing principle
only in the recommendation and not in the convention to be con­
cluded. As the treaty of Versailles (preamble and pt. 13, art. 427)
formulates the “ adequate living wage ” principle, the necessity
to “ enable the workers to maintain a suitable standard of living ”
should be taken into account. The International Labor Office recom­
mended further that “ regard should primarily be had to the rates of
wages paid for similar work in trades where the workers are ade­
quately organized and have concluded effective collective agree­
ments.” In the absence of such standard regard should be had “ to
the general level of wages prevailing in the country or the particular
locality.” 7
8 International Labor Office.
♦Idem, p. 90.
8 Idem, p. 99.
« Idem, p. 105.
1 Idem, p. 108.

Report on Minimum W age-Fixing M achinery, Geneva, 1928.



Practically all Governments were of the opinion that the convention
should not indicate any specific form of machinery.8 The Interna­
tional Labor Office concluded in favor of freedom for the Govern­
ments to “ determine the nature and form of the minimum wagefixing machinery and the methods to be followed in its operation,
provided that the rate of wages fixed shall be binding on the em­
ployers and workers concerned, so as not to be subject to a lowering
by them by individual agreement, nor by collective agreement, except
with the authorization of the competent authority under the ma­
chinery.” 9
Practically all Governments favored preliminary consultation with
the trade and with specially qualified persons. Practically all Gov­
ernments favored also representation of employers and workers, on
equal terms, on the boards to be established.10 Most of the Govern­
ments favored giving to the employers and workers concerned some
voice in the selection of their representatives.11 Most Governments
also favored supervision of the law by the factory inspectors.12
The International Labor Office has elaborated, on the basis of the
replies, propositions for a convention and for a recommendation as
a basis for the deliberations of the conference of 1928.
Dr. Karl Pribram, until recently chief of the statistical section of
the International Labor Office analyzed in his study “ The regulation
of minimum wages as an international problem,” the problems to
be solved by the International Labor Conference of 1928.13 He
showed that one of the main reasons for the reluctance of the central
European countries to accept minimum wage-fixing machinery for
trades other than home work is the general prevalence therein of
the method of collective agreements. They do not wish any inter­
ference by State authorities with voluntary arrangements. Even
workers’ representatives fear the weakening of trade-union influence
if the trade-union monoply in the fixation of wages should be broken
by interference by the authorities, a point of view similar, of course,
to that of the American Federation of Labor.
Other countries, where collective agreements are less prevalent,
and where minimum wage-fixing machinery already exists for factory
trades, wish to protect these industries against competition by coun­
tries without minimum wage-fixing machinery for these trades. The
fear was expressed that a convention restricting the machinery ex­
pressly to home work might hamper social progress in the advanced
countries. Doctor Pribram, and with him the International Labor
Office, favored as a way out such a form of convention that all States
can assume its obligations, whatever may be the special tendencies
of their legislation. The Governments should be left free to decide
what groups of trades satisfy the general criteria specified.
The general conference of the International Labor Organization
which met in Geneva on May 30,1928, for its eleventh session decided,
on June 1, to accept the outline of the International Labor Office
as a basis of its discussions. A commission of 48 members was
? International Labor Office.
Report on Minimum W age-Fixing Machinery, Geneva,
1928, p. 109.
9 Idem, p. 112.
10 Idem, p. 115.
u Idem, p. 118.
12 Idem, pp. 68-76.
18 International Labor Office. International Labor Review, Geneva, March, 1928, p. 317.



appointed to prepare the text of a convention and of a recommenda­
tion. Doctor Feig, substitute delegate of the German Government,
was chosen as “ rapporteur.”
By a vote of 27 to 17 the commission decided that the convention
should not be restricted to home-work trades, but should first apply
to them. A majority of the employers’ delegates decided to sub­
mit to the conference a motion that home-work trades only should
be affected by the convention. The final report of the commission
was accepted by a vote of 31 to 7, 8 members abstaining from
The conference itself adopted article 1 of the convention by a
vote of 63 to 27; article 2 by a vote of 68 to 2; article 3 by a vote of
75 to 4; article 4 unanimously; article 5 by a vote of 71 to 17. The
final vote was 73 for the convention and 27 against it. The twothirds vote necessary for its adoption was thereby achieved. All
workers’ delegates voted “ yes.” All governmental delegates voted
likewise, except those of the Governments of Hungary and Yugo­
slavia, who voted “ no.” The delegates of the employers of Italy and
Holland voted “ yes ” ; those of the employers of South Africa,
Brazil, Chile, China, Finland, Latvia, Norway, Rumania, and
Uruguay abstained from voting. The employers’ delegates of the
other nations, including those of Great Britain, voted “ no.”
The only part of the recommendation which was seriously con­
tested was that stating the principles of wage fixation recommended
to the various States— “ suitable standard of living ” of the workers,
regard being had to wages for similar work in adequately organized
trades or, in the absence of such standards of reference, to the general
level of wages.15
Mr. Gartner, delegate of the German employers, moved that the
special conditions of the industry, with regard to the conditions of
supply, production, and competition should be taken into account;
but the motion was lost by a vote of 52 to 27. The recommendation
was finally adopted by a vote of 69 to 9.
There were, however, some fluctuations in the voting before the
final formal vote, the opposition against the convention losing in
strength, while the votes against the recommendation increased in
number. The instructions finally received by the delegates were
somewhat in variance with the votes they had cast at the close of the
discussions. The final formal vote was as follows: For the conven­
tion, 76; against, 21. For the recommendation, 81; against, 18.
The convention in its final form provides (art. 1) for the crea­
tion of machinery for fixing minimum wages in trades (particularly
in home-work trades) “ in which no arrangements exist for the
effective regulation of wages by collective agreement or otherwise and
wages are exceptionally low.” 16
The nature and form of the machinery, the methods for its opera­
tion, and the selection of the trades where they are to be applied are
left to the discretion of the signatory States.17
14 Data taken from the minutes o f the conference preserved at the International Laber
Office in Geneva.
15 See appendix, p. 124.
16 See appendix, p. 121.
17 Compare the brief summary o f the main provisions in the International Labor Re­
view, August, 1928. Geneva, p. 160.



The recommendation refers to various practical provisions, the
usefulness of which has been tested by the experience of the States
which have already created minimum wage-fixing machinery.
I f this convention and this recommendation are duly ratified many
fears of progressive countries that higher wages may play into the
hands of competitors will disappear. Backward countries will fall
into line to gain social prestige. The prospects seem to be favorable
for the extension of minimum wage legislation among the States
which are members of the International Labor Organization.

H E law of supply and demand, supplemented by industrial war,
determines wages in most countries. Force rules in the wages
field, as it does in the competition of industries or in the
relation* of States.
Minimum wage legislation substitutes scientific consideration of
the worker’s essential needs, as well as of the resources of industry,
for the wasteful struggle between these elements and the supremacy
of force.
The endeavors of its advocates for order* and peace in the field of
distribution of the product of labor have a striking parallel in the
field of production of wealth— the endeavor for order and peace in
industry and for its well-planned control, and the endeavor to
run industry for satisfying consumers’ needs instead of for indi­
vidual profit and to coordinate it scientifically so as not to waste
wealth in strife. Both endeavors have their parallel in the inter­
national field— the efforts for order and peace, for coordinating the
interests of the nations, to satisfy each of them to the best of the
technical and political ability available, and to direct them by the
League of Nations, instead of wasting their resources in strife for
obtaining particular advantages.
Coordination of parties paying and of parties receiving wages,
coordination of industries, and coordination of nations— all endeavor
to substitute a centralized control guided by science and equity
for strife and force, and to do away with the losses from strife
and thereby to give to all concerned a more equitable share in the
increased common resources.



The General Conference of the International Labor Organization of the
League of Nations,
Having been convened at Geneva by the governing body of the Inter­
national Labor Office, and having met in its eleventh session on May 30,
1928, and
Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard to
minimum wage-fixing machinery, which is the first item on the agenda of
the session, and
Having determined that these proposals shall take the form of a draft
international convention,
adopts, this 16th day of June of the year 1928, the following draft convention
for ratification by the members of the International Labor Organization, in
accordance with the provisions of Part X III of the treaty of Versailles and of
the corresponding parts of the other treaties of peace:
Article 1
Each member of the International Labor Organization which ratifies this
convention undertakes to create or maintain machinery whereby minimum
rates of wages can be fixed for workers employed in certain of the trades or
parts of trades (and in particular in home-working trades) in which no arrange­
ments exist for the effective regulation of wages by collective agreement or
otherwise and wages are exceptionally low.
For the purpose of this convention the term “ trades” includes manufacture
and commerce.
Article 2
Each member which ratifies this convention shall be free to decide, after
consultation with the organizations, if any, of workers and employers in the
trade or part of trade concerned, in which trades or parts of trades, and in
particular in which home-working trades or parts of such trades, the minimum
wage-fixing machinery referred to in Article 1 shall be applied.
Article 8
Each member which ratifies this convention shall be free to decide the nature
and form of the minimum wage-fixing machinery, and the methods to be fol­
lowed in its operation:
Provided that, (1) Before the machinery is applied in a trade or part of
trade, representatives of the employers and workers concerned, including rep­
resentatives of their respective organizations, if any, shall be consulted as well
as any other persons, being specially qualified for the purpose by their trade
or functions, whom the competent authority deems it expedient to consult.
(2) The employers and workers concerned shall be associated in the opera­
tion of the machinery, in such manner and to such extent, but in any case in
equal numbers and on equal terms, as may be determined by national laws
or regulations.
(3) Minimum rates of wages which have been fixed shall be binding on the
employers and workers concerned so as not to be subject to abatement by
them by individual agreement, nor, except with the general or particular
authorization of the competent authority, by collective agreement.
Article 4
Each member which ratifies this convention shall take the necessary meas­
ures, by way of a system of supervision and sanctions, to ensure that the em­
1 International Labor Office.
Vol. X II I , No. 3.

Official Bulletin, Geneva, July 31, 1928.

Supplement to



ployers and workers concerned are informed of the minimum rates of wages
in force and that wages are not paid at less than these rates in cases where
they are applicable.
A worker to whom the minimum rates are applicable and who has been paid
wages at less than these rates shall be entitled to recover, by judicial or other
legalized proceedings, the amount by which he has been underpaid, subject
to such limitation of time as may be determined by national laws or
Article 5
Each member which ratifies this convention shall communicate annually to
the International Labor Office a general statement giving a list of the trades or
parts of trades in which the minimum wage-fixing machinery has been applied,
indicating the methods as well as the results of the application of the ma­
chinery and, in summary form, the approximate numbers of workers covered,
the minimum rates of wages fixed, and the more important of the other condi­
tions, if any, established relevant to the minimum rates.
Article 6
The formal ratifications of this convention under the conditions set forth in
Part X III of the treaty of Versailles and in the corresponding parts of the
other treaties of peace shall be communicated to the secretary-general of the
League of Nations for registration.
Article 7
This convention shall be binding only upon those members whose ratificati9ns have been registered with the secretariat.
It shall come into force 12 months after the date on which the ratifications
of two members of the International Labor Organization have been registered
with the secretary-general.
Thereafter, this convention shall come into force for any member 12 months
after the date on which its ratification has been registered.
Article 8
As soon as the ratifications of two members of the International Labor
Organization have been registered with the secretariat, the secretary general of
the League of Nations shall so notify all the members of the International Labor
Organization. He shall likewise notify them of the registration of ratifications
which may be communicated subsequently by other members of the organization.
Article 9
A member which has ratified this convention may denounce it after the
expiration of 10 years from the date on which the convention first comes
into force, by an act communicated to the secretary general of the League
of Nations for registration. Such denunciation shall not take effect until one
year after the date on which it is registered with the secretariat.
Each member which has ratified this convention and which does not, within
the year following the expiration of the period of 10 years mentioned in the
preceding paragraph, exercise the right of denunciation provided for in this
article, will be bound for another period of five years and, thereafter, may
denounce this convention at the expiration of each period of five years under
the terms provided for in this article.
Article 10
At least once in 10 years the governing body of the International Labor
Office shall present to the general conference a report on the working of this
convention and shall consider the desirability of placing on the agenda of
the conference the question of its revision or modification.



Article 11
The French and English texts of this convention shall both be authentic.

Recommendation Concerning the Application of Minimum Wage-Fixing
The General Conference of the International Labor Organization of the
League of Nations,
Having been convened at Geneva by the governing body of the Inter­
national Labor Office, and having met in its eleventh session on May 30,
1928, and
Having decided upon the adoption of certain proposals with regard
to minimum wage-fixing machinery, which is the first item on the agenda
of the session, and
Having determined that these proposals should take the form of a
adopts, this 16th day of June of the year 1928, the following recommendation,
to be submitted to the members of the International Labor Organization for
consideration with a view to effect being given to it by national legislation or
otherwise, in accordance with the provisions of Part X III of the treaty of Ver­
sailles and of the corresponding parts of the other treaties of peace:

The General Conference of the International Labor Organization,
Having adopted a draft convention concerning the creation of minimum
wage-fixing machinery, and
Desiring to supplement this draft convention by putting on record for
the guidance of the members certain general principles which, as present
practice and experience show, produce the most satisfactory results,
recommends that each member should take the following principles and rules
into consideration:

(1) In order to insure that each member ratifying the convention is in
possession of the information necessary for a decision upon the application
of minimum wage-fixing machinery, the wages actually paid and the arrange­
ments, if any, for the regulation of wages should be ascertained in respect
of any trade or part of trade to which employers or workers therein request
the application of the machinery and furnish information which shows prima
facie that no arrangements exist for the effective regulation of wages and that
wages are exceptionally low.
(2) Without prejudice to the discretion left to the members by the draft
convention to decide in which trades or parts of trades in their respective
countries it is expedient to apply minimum wage-fixing machinery, special
regard might usefully be had to trades or parts of trades in which women are
ordinarily employed.
(1) The minimum wage-tixing machinery, whatever form it may take (for
instance, trade boards for individual trades, general boards for groups of
trades, compulsory arbitration tribunals) should operate by way of investigation
into the relevant conditions in the trade or part of trade concerned and con­
sultation with the interests primarily and principally affected, that is to say,
the employers and workers in the trade or part of trade, whose views on all
matters relating to the fixing of the minimum rates of wages should in any
case be solicited and be given full and equal consideration.
(2) (a) To secure greater authority for the rates that may be fixed,
it should be the general policy that the employers and workers concerned through
representatives equal in number or having equal voting strength, should
jointly take a direct part in the deliberations and decisions of the wagefixing body; in any case, where representation is accorded to one side, the

109931°—2S----- 9



other side should be represented on the same footing. The wage-fixing body
should also include one or more independent persons whose votes can insure
effective decisions being reached in the event of the votes of the employers* and
workers’ representatives being equally divided. Such independent persona
should, as far as possible, be selected in agreement with or after consultation
with the employers’ and workers’ representatives on the wage-fixing body.
(&) In order to insure that the employers’ and workers’ representatives shall
be persons having the confidence of those whose interests they respectively
represent, the employers and workers concerned should be given a voice as far
as is practicable in the circumstances in the selection of their representatives,
and if any organizations of the employers and workers exist these should in
any case be invited to submit names of persons recommended by them for
appointment on the wage-fixing body.
(c) The independent person or persons mentioned in paragraph (a) should
be selected from among men or women recognized as possessing the necessary
qualifications for their duties and as being dissociated from any interest in the
trade or part of trade concerned which might be calculated to put their
impartiality in question.
{d) Wherever a considerable proportion of women are employed, provision
should be made as far as possible for the inclusion of women among the
workers’ representatives and of one or more women among the independent
persons mentioned in paragraph (a).
For the purpose of determining the minimum rates of wages to be fixed, the
wage-fixing body should in ’any case take account of the necessity of enabling
the workers concerned to maintain a suitable standard of living. For this
purpose regard should primarily be had to the rates of wages being paid for
similar work in trades where the workers are adequately organized and have
concluded effective collective agreements, or, if no such standard of reference is
available in the circumstances, to the general level of wages prevailing in the
country or in the particular locality.
Provision should be made for the review of the minimum rates of wages
fixed by the wage-fixing bodies when this is desired by the workers or em­
ployers who are members of such bodies.
For effectively protecting the wages of the workers concerned and safe­
guarding the employers affected against the possibility of unfair competition, the
measures to be taken to insure that wages are not paid at less than the mini­
mum rates which have been fixed should include:
(а) Arrangements for informing the employers and workers of the rates
in force;
(б) Official supervision of the rates actually being paid; and
(c) Penalties for infringements of the rates in force and measures for
preventing such infringements.
*(1) In order that the workers, who are less likely than the employers to
have their own means of acquainting themselves with the wage-fixing body’s
decisions, may be kept informed of the minimum rates at which they are to be
paid, employers might be required to display full statements of the rates in
force in readily accessible positions on the premises where the workers are
employed, or in the case of home workers on the premises where the work is
given out or returned on completion or wages paid.
A sufficient staff of inspectors should be employed, with powers analo­
gous to those proposed for factory inspectors in the recommendation concern­
ing the general principles for the organization of systems of inspection adopted
by the general conference in 192B, to make investigations among the employers
and workers concerned with a view to ascertaining whether the minimum rates
in force are in fact being paid and taking such steps as may be authorized to
deal with infringements of the rates.
As a means of enabling the inspectors adequately to carry out these duties,
employers might be required to keep complete and authentic records of the



wages paid by them, or in the case of home workers to keep a list of the
workers with their addresses and provide them with wage books or other
similar record containing such particulars as are necessary to ascertain if the
wages actually paid correspond to the rates in force.
In cases where the workers are not in general in a position individually
to enforce, by judicial or other legalized proceedings, their rights to recover
wages due at the minimum rates in force, such other measures should be pro­
vided as may be considered effective for preventing infringements of the
The General Conference of the International Labor Organization thinks it
right to call the attention of Governments to the principle affirmed by article
427 of the peace treaty that men and women should receive equal remunera­
tion for work of equal value.


The following is a list of all bulletins of the Bureau of Labor Statistics published since
Inly, 1912, except that in the case of bulletins giving the results of periodic surveys of the
bureau only the latest bulletin on any one subject is here listed.
A complete list of the reports and bulletins issued prior to July, 1912, as well as the
bulletins published since that date, will be furnished on application. Bulletins marked thus (*)
are out of print.
Conciliation and Arbitration (including strikes and lockouts).

♦No. 124. Conciliation and arbitration in the building trades o f Greater New York.
♦No. 133. Report o f the industrial council o f the British Board o f Trade on its in­
quiry into industrial agreements. [1913.]
No. 139. Michigan copper district strike. [1914.]
No. 144. Industrial court o f the cloak, suit, and skirt industry o f New York City.
No, 145. Conciliation, arbitration, and sanitation in the dress and waist industry o f
Now York City.
♦No. 191. Collective bargaining in the anthracite-coal industry. [1916.]
♦No. 198. Collective agreements in the men’ s clothing industry. [1916.]
No. 233. Operation o f the industrial disputes investigation act o f Canada. [1918.]
No. 255. Joint industrial councils in Great Britain. [1919.]
No. 283. History o f the Shipbuilding Labor Adjustment Board, 1917 to 1919.
No. 287. National War Labor Board : History o f its form ation, activities, etc. [1921.]
No. 303. Use o f Federal power in settlement o f railway labor disputes. L1922.]
No. 341. Trade agreement in the siik-ribbon industry of New York City. L1923.]
No. 402. Collective bargaining by actors. [1926.]
No. 448. Trade agreements, 1926.

No. 313. Consumers’ cooperative societies in the United States in 1920.
No. 314. Cooperative credit societies in America and in foreign countries. [1922.]
No. 437. Cooperative movement in the United States in 1925 (other than agricultural).
Employment and Unemployment.

♦No. 109. Statistics o f unemployment and the work o f employment offices in the United
States. [1913.1
No. 172. Unemployment in New York City, N. Y. [1915.]
♦No. 183. Regularity o f employment in the women’ s ready-to-wear garment industries.
♦No. 195. Unemployment in the United States. [1916.]
No. 196. Proceedings o f the Employment Managers’ Conference held at Minneapolis,
Minn.. January 19 and 20, 1916.
♦No. 202. Proceedings o f the conference o f Employment Managers’ A ssociation o f Bos­
ton, Mass., held May 10, 1916.
No. 206. The British system o f labor exchanges. [1916.]
No. 227. Proceedings o f the Employment Managers’ Conference, Philadelphia, Pa.,
April 2 and 3, 1917.
No. 235. Employment system o f the Lake Carriers’ Association.
♦No. 241. Public employment offices in the United States. [1918.]
N o. 247. P roceed in gs o f E m p loy m en t M anagers’ C onference, R o ch e ste r, N. Y., Mav
9-11, 1918.
No. 310. Industrial unem ploym ent: A statistical study o f its extent and causes. [1922.1
No. 409. Unemployment in Columbus, Ohio, 1921 to 1925.
Foreign Labor Laws.

♦No. 142. Administration o f labor laws and factory inspection in certain European

♦No. 158. Government aid to home owning and housing
No. 263. Housing by employers in the United States.
No. 295. Building operations in representative cities in
No. 449. Building permits in the principal cities o f the

o f working people In foreign
United States in [1925 and]

Industrial Accidents and Hygiene.

♦No. 104. Lead poisoning in potteries, tile works, and porcelain enameled sanitary
ware factories.
No. 120. Hygiene o f the painters’ trade. [1913.]
♦No. 127. Dang( rs to workers from dusts and fumes, and methods o f protection.
♦No. 141. Lead poisoning in the smelting and refining o f lead. [1914.]
♦No. 157. Industrial accident statistics. [1915.]
♦No. 165. Lead poisoning in the manufacture o f storage batteries. [1914.]
♦No. 179. Industrial poisons used in the rubber industry. [1915.]
No. 188. Report o f British departmental committee on the danger in the use o f lead
in the painting o f buildings. [1916.]
♦No. 201. Report o f committee on statistics and compensation insurance cost o f the
Internationa] Association o f Industrial A ccident Boards and Commis­
sions. [1916.]
♦No. 207. Causes o f death , by occupation. [1917.]
♦No. 209. Hygiene o f the printing trades. [1917.]
♦No. 219. Industrial poisons used or produced in the manufacture o f explosive*


Industrial Accidents and Hygiene— Continued.

No. 221.
No. 280.
♦No. 231.
♦No. 234.
No. 236.
No. 249.
♦No. 251.
No. 256.
No. 267.
No. 276.
No. 280.
No. 291.
No. 293.
No. 298.
No. 306.
No. 339.
No. 392.
No. 405.


No. 460.
No. 466.

Hours, fatigue, and health in British munition factories. [1917.]
Industrial efficiency and fatigue in British munition factories. [1917.]
M ortality from respiratory diseases in dusty trades (inorganic dusts).
Safety movement m the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1917.
Effects o f the air hammer on the hands o f stonecutters. [1918.]
Industrial health and efficiency. Final report o f British Health o f Munition
Workers’ Committee. [1919.]
Preventable death in the cotton-manufacturing industry.
Accidents and accident prevention in machine building. [1919.]
Anthrax as an occupational disease. [1920.]
Standardization o f industrial accident statistics. [1920.]
Industrial poisoning in making coal-tar dyes and dye intermediates. [1921.]
Carbon-monoxide poisoning. [1921.]
The problem o f dust phthisis in the granite-stone industry.* [1922.]
Causes and prevention o f accidents in the iron and steel industry, 1910-1919.
Occupational hazards and diagnostic sig n s: A guide to impairments to be
looked for in hazardous occupations. [1922.]
Statistics o f industrial accidents in the United States. [1923.]
Survey o f hygienic conditions in the printing trades. [1925.]
Phosphorus necrosis in the manufacture o f fireworks and in the preparation
o f phosphorus. [1926.]
Record o f industrial accidents in the United States to 1925.
Deaths from lead poisoning. [1927.]
Health survey o f the printing trades, 1922 to 1925.
Proceedings o f the Industrial Accident Prevention Conference, held at
Washington, D. C., July 14-16, 1926.
A new test for industrial lead poisoning. [1928.]
Settlement for accidents to American seamen. [1928.]

Industrial Relations and Labor Conditions.



Industrial unrest in Great Britain. [1917.]
Chinese migrations, with special reference to labor conditions. [1923.]
Industrial relations in the West Coast lumber industry. [1923.]
Labor relations in the Fairmont (W . Va.) bituminous-coal field. [1924.]
Postwar labor conditions in Germany. [1925.]
Works council movement in Germany. [1925.]
Labor conditions in the shoe industry in Massachusetts, 1920-1924.
Labor relations in the lace and lace-curtain industries in the United States.

Labor Laws of the United States (including decisions of courts relating to labor).

No. 211. Labor, laws and their adm inistration in the Pacific States. [1917.]
No. 229. Wage-payment legislation in the United States. [1917.]
No. 285. Minimum-wage laws o f the United States Construction and operation.
N o. 321. L a b or la w s th a t have been d ecla red u n co n stitu tio n a l.
No. 322. Kansas Court o f Industrial Relations. [1923.]
No. 343. Laws providing for bureaus o f labor statistics, etc. [1923.]
No. 370. Labor laws o f the United States, with decisions o f courts relating thereto.
No. 408. Laws relating to payment o f wages. [1926.]
No. 434. Labor legislation o f 1926.
No. 444. Decisions o f courts and opinions affecting labor, 1926.
Proceedings of Annual Conventions of the Association of Governmental Labor Officials of the
United States and Canada.



Seventh, Seattle, Wash., July 12-15, 1920.
Eighth, New Orleans, La., May 2 -6 , 1921.
Ninth, Harrisburg, Pa., May 22-26. 1922.
Tenth, Richmond, Va., May 1-4, 1923.
Eleventh, Chicago, 111., May 19-23, 1924.
Twelfth, Salt Lake City, Utah, August 13-15. 1925.
Thirteenth, Columbus, Ohio, June 7-10, 1926.
Fourteenth, Paterson, N. J., May 31 to June 3, 1927.

Proceedings of Annual Meetings of the International Association of Industrial Accident. Boards
and Commissions.



Third, Columbus, Ohio, April 25-28, 1916.
Fourth, Boston, Mass., August 21-25. 1917.
Fifth, Madison, Wis., September 24-27, 1918.
Sixth, Toronto, Canada, September 23-26, 1919.
Seventh, San Francisco, Calif., September 20-24, 1920.
Eighth, Chicago, 111., September 19-23, 1921.
Ninth, Baltimore, Md., October 9-13, 1922.
Tenth, St. Paul, Minn., September 24-26, 1923.
Eleventh, Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 26-28, 1924.
Index to proceedings, 1914-1924.
Twelfth, Salt Lake City, Utah, August 17-20, 1925.
Thirteenth, H artford, Conn., September 14-17, 1926.
Fourteenth, Atlanta, Ga., September 27-29, 1927.

Proceedings of Annual Meetings of International Association of Public Employment Services.
No. 192. First, Chicago, December 19 and 20, 19 13; second, Indianapolis. September

24 and 25, 1914; third, Detroit, July 1 and 2, 1915.
No. 220. Fourth, Buffalo, N. Y., July 20 and 21, 1916.
No. 311. Ninth, Buffalo, N. Y., September 7 -9 . 1921.
No. 337. Tenth, Washington, D. C., September 11-13, 1922.

(I I )

Proceedings of Annual Meetings of International Association of Public Employment Services*-—
C ontin ued.

No. 355. Eleventh, Toronto, Canada, September 4 -7 , 1923.
No. 400. Twelfth, Chicago, 111., May 19-23, 1924.
No. 414. Thirteenth, Rochester, N. Y., September 15—17, 1925.
Productivity o f Labor.
No. 356. Productivity costs in the common-brick industry. [1924.1
No. 360. Time and labor costs in manufacturing 100 pairs o f shoes, 1923.
No. 407. Labor costs o f production and wages and hours o f labor in the paper boxboard industry. [1926.]
No. 412. Wages, hours, and productivity in the pottery industry, 1925.
No. 441. Productivity o f labor in the glass industry. [1927.1
Retail Prices and Cost o f Living.
*No. 121. Sugar prices, from refiner to consumer. [1913.]
♦No. 130. W heat and flour prices, from farmer to consumer. [1913.]
♦No. 164. Butter prices, from producer to consumer. [1914.]
No. 170. Foreign food prices as affected by the war. [1915.]
No. 357. Cost o f living in the United States. [1924.]
No. 369. The use o f cost-of-living figures in wage adjustments. [1925.]
No. 464. Retail prices, 1890 to 1927.
Safety Codes.
♦No. 331. Code o f lig h tin g : Factories, mills, and other work places.
No. 336. Safety code for the protection o f industrial workers in foundries.
No. 350. Specifications o f laboratory tests for approval of electric headlighting devices
for m otor vehicles.
No. 351. Safety code for the construction, care, and use o f ladders.
No. 375. Safety code for laundry machinery and operations.
No. 378. Safety code for woodworking plants.
No. 382. Code o f lighting school buildings.
No. 410. Safety code for paper and pulp mills.
No. 430. Safety code for power presses and hand presses.
No. 433. Safety codes for the prevention o f dust explosions.
No. 436. Safety code for the use, care, and protection o f abrasive wheels.
No. 447. Safety code for rubber mills and calenders.
No. 451. Safety code for forging and hot-metal stamping.
No. 463. Safety code for mechanical power-transmission apparatus— first revision.
Vocational and Workers' Education.
♦No. 159. Short-unit courses for wage earners, and a factory school experiment. [1915. J
♦No. 162. Vocational education survey o f Richmond, Va. [1915.]
♦No. 199. Vocational education survey o f Minneapolis, Minn. [1917.1
No. 271. Adult working-class education in Great Britain and the United States.
No. 459. Apprenticeship in building construction. [1928.]
Wages and Hours o f Labor.
*No. 146. Wages and regularity o f employment and standardization o f piece rates in
the dress and waist industry o f New York City. [1914.]
♦No. 147. Wages and regularity o f employment in the cloak, suit, and skirt industry.
No. 161. Wages and hours o f labor in the clothing and cigar industries, 1911 to 1913.
No. 163. W ases and hours o f labor in the building and repairing o f steam railroad
cars, 1907 to 1913.
♦No. 190. Wages and hours o f labor in the cotton, woolen, and silk industries, 1907
to 1914.
No. 204. Street-railway employment in the United States. [1917.]
No. 225. Wages and hours o f labor in the lumber, m illwork, and furniture industries,
No. 265. Industrial survey in selected industries in the United States, 1919.
No. 297. Wages and hour's o f labor in the petroleum industry, 1920.
No. 356. Productivity costs in the common-brick industry. [1924.]
No. 358. Wages and hours o f labor in the automobile-tire industry, 1923.
No. 360. Time and labor costs in m anufacturing 100 pairs o f shoes, 1923.
No. 365. Wages and hours o f labor in the paper and pulp industry, 1923.
No. 394. Wages and hours o f labor in m etalliferous mines, 1924.
No. 407. Labor cost o f production and wages and hours o f labor in the paper boxboard industry. [1925.]
No. 412. Wages, hours, and productivity in the pottery industry, 1925.
No. 413. Wages and hours o f labor in the lumber industry in the United States, 1925.
No. 416. Hours and earnings in anthracite and bituminous coal mining. 1922 and
No. 421. Wages and hours o f labor in the slaughtering and meat-packing industry,
No. 422. Wages and hours o f labor in foundries and machine shops, 1925.
No. 435. Wages and hours o f labor in the men’s clothing industry, 1911 to 1926.
No. 438. Wages and hours o f labor in the motor-vehicle industry, 1925.
No. 442. Wages and hours o f labor in the iron and steel industry, 1907 to 1926.
No. 443. Wages and hours o f labor in woolen and worsted goods manufacturing,
1910 to 1926.
No. 446. Wages and hours o f labor in cotton-goods m anufacturing, 1910 to 1926.
No. 450. Wages and hours o f labor in the boot and shoe industry, 1907 to 1926.
No. 452. wages and hours o f labor in the hosiery and underwear industries, 1907
to 1926.
No. 454. Hours and earnings in bituminous-coal mining, 1922, 1924, and 1926.
No. 457. Union scales o f wages and hours o f labor, May 15, 1927.


W elfare W ork .

♦No. 123. Employers’ w elfare work. [1913.]
No. 222. W elfare work in British munitions factories. [1917.]
*No. 250. W elfare work fo r employees in industrial establishments in the United
States. [1919.]
No. 458. Health and recreation activities in industrial establishments, 1926.
W holesale P rices.

No. 284. Index numbers o f wholesale prices in the United States and foreign countries.
No. 440. Wholesale prices, 1890 to 1920.
No. 453. Revised index numbers of wholesale prices, 1923 to July, 1927.
W om en and Children in Industry.

No. 116. Hours, earnings, and duration o f employment o f wage-earning women in
selected industries in the District of Columbia. [1913.]
Prohibition o f night work o f youug persons. [1913.]
Ten-hour maximum working-day for women and young persons. [1913.]
Working hours o f women m the pea canneries o f Wisconsin. [1913.]
Employment of women in power laundries in Milwaukee. [1913.]
Hours, earnings, and conditions o f labor of women in Indiana mercantile
establishments and garment factories. [1914.]
♦No. 167. Minimuni-wage legislation in the United States and foreign countries. [1915.]
♦No. 175. Summary o f the report on conditions of woman and child wage earners in
the United States. [1915.]
♦No. 176. Effect o f minimum-wage determinations in Oregon. [1915.]
♦No. 180. The boot and shoe industry in Massachusetts as a vocation for women.
♦No. 182. Unemployment among women in department and other retail stores of Boston,
Mass. [1916.]
No. 193. Dressmaking as a trade for women in Massachusetts. [1916.]
No. 215. Industrial experience o f trade-schoo] girls in Massachusetts. [1917.]
♦No. 217. Effect o f workmen’s compensation laws in diminishing the necessity o f indus­
trial employment o f women and children. [1918.]
No. 223. Employment o f women and juveniles in Great Britain during the war.
No. 253. Women in the lead industries. [1919.]

♦No. 117.
No. 118.
No. 119.
♦No. 122.
No. 160.

W orkm en’ s Insurance and Compensation (including: laws relating thereto).



♦No. 243.
No. 301.
No. 312.
No. 379.
No. 423.

Care o f tuberculous wage earners in Germany. [1912.]
British national insurance act. 1911.
Sickness and accident insurance law o f Switzerland. [1912.]
Law relating to insurance o f salaried employees in Germany. [1913.]
Compensation for accidents to employees o f the United States. 11914. J
Proceedings o f the conference on social insurance called by the International
A ssociation o f Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions, Washington,
D. C., December 5-9, 1918.
Workmen's® compensation legislation in the United States and foreign coun­
tries, 1917 and 1918.
Comparison o f workmen’s compensation insurance and adm inistration.
National health insurance in Great Britain, 1911 to 1921.
Comparison o f workmen’* compensation laws o f the United States as o f
January 1, 1925.
W orkmen’s compensation legislation o f the United States and Canada as o f
July 1, 1926.

Miscellaneous Series.

♦No. 174. Subject index o f tin* publics lions o f the United States Bureau o f Labor
Statistics up to May 1, 1915.
No. 208. Profit sharing in the United States. [1916.]
No. 242. Food situation in central Europe, 1917.
No. 254. International labor legislation and the society o f nations. 11919.]
No. 268. Historical survey o f international action affecting labor. [1920.]
No. 282. Mutual relief associations among Government employees in Washington,
D. C. [1921.]
No. 299. Personal research agen cies: A guide to organized research in employment
management, industrial relations, training, and working conditions,
f 1921.]
No. 319. The Bureau o f Labor S ta tistics: Its history, activities, and organization,
f 1922.]
No. 326. Methods o f procuring and computing statistical inform ation o f the Bureau of
Labor Statistics.
No. 842. International Seamen’s Union o f A m erica: A study of its history and prob­
lems. [1923.]
No. 346. Humanity in government. [1923.]
No. 372. Convict labor in 1923.
No. 386. Cost o f American almshouses. [1925.]
No. 398. Growth o f legal-aid work in the United States. [1926.]
No. 401. Family allowances in foreign countries. ri926.]
No. 420. Handbook o f American trade-unions. [1926.]
No. 439. Handbook o f labor statistics, 1924 to 1926.
No. 461. Labor organizations in Chile. [1928.]
No. 462. Park recreation areas in the United States. [1928.1
No. 465. Beneficial activities of American trade-unions. [1928.]

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