Page:Economic Development in Denmark Before and During the World War.djvu/73

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57
FACTORY LEGISLATION

summed up, perhaps, as follows: a great step has been taken toward community within society; and, on the whole, Denmark has gone as far as, if not farther than, any other country toward communism, without having had to renounce the principle of individualism. Thus even the conservative elements of the population may participate in the great work with a hearty good will.

The series of measures which have been taken to the end of socializing the body politic is, however, not yet complete. Numerous laws concerning the inspection of factories and the regulation of working-hours, as well as the settlement of trade disputes, were passed during the last generation. These laws did not propose any startingly new principles; for the most part they followed the lines of foreign legislation, which before the outbreak of the World War was well on the way to become international, as though the League of Nations were already in existence.

The growth of industry led to the passing of a Factory Act in 1873. Its scope is apparent from its title: 'Act Concerning the Employment of Children and Young People in Factories and Workshops using Machinery, and the Public Inspection thereof.' The act did not extend its protection to adults, which was quite in conformity with the spirit of the times. It appointed two inspectors for all workshops run by machinery and employing persons under eighteen years of age. It prohibited the employment in factories of children under ten years and provided that children between the ages of ten and fourteen might only work for six hours a day; moreover, their hours for attendance at school were to be respected, and they were to be free on Sundays. Young persons between the ages of fourteen and eighteen might work ten hours a day. The act further provided that in building such workshops sufficient regard should be paid to the health and safety of the workmen. This last provision was one which in the hands of an energetic inspector might have prevented much evil, but it did not accomplish much,