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1890-Johnston-observations_of_strikes_on_wages.pdf (874.85 kB)

Observations on the influence of strikes upon real wages

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posted on 2023-11-22, 10:38 authored by Robert Mackenzie Johnston
At the present moment in Europe, America, and Australasia, many industries are paralysed and the well - being or comfort of thousands of families are more or less sacrificed by organised or enforced idleness involving a considerable diminution in the creation of commodities or real wealth.
These Strikes, as they are termed, are entered upon by thousands of honest, hardworking, peace-loving men.
In loyalty to their order and to their recognised leaders, they display many characteristics which cannot but excite some degree of wonder and admiration; for this voluntary suspension of the means of livelihood to them not only involves unflinching self-denial of ordinary comforts, but also the facing of a terrible risk that in. the dark, prolonged struggle, the lives of those that make life dear to them may be crushed and overwhelmed by want and misery.
In other words, it is possible to regulate and alter the distribution of the aggregate wealth of consumable necessaries of life, but so long as this aggregate wealth fails to be increased per capita per year, Strikes cannot increase the real wages or the purchasing power of a day's labour of all wage-earners. In a word they cannot divide more than what has actually been created or produced, although the nominal rates of wages and nominal prices of commodities may both be raised to any extent without real benefit to anyone.
In conclusion it seems only too true, as asserted by Mr. Grunton, "That nothing can improve the social condition of the masses, whether it raises nominal wages or not, which does not increase the general rate of real wages, the degree of which may be universally taken as the accurate measure of social progress;" and, "there are no economic means by which the material condition of the masses can be permanently improved which do not tend to increase the aggregate production of wealth per capita."

History

Publication title

Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania

Pagination

196-201

ISSN

0080-4703

Rights statement

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania..

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