Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/49

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43
THE PERIL OF EXPLOITING THE POOR
"Every reply received indicates that there is slackness in many trades. Be it remembered that high wages can be earned; for relatively unskilled although somewhat arduous work, 30s. a day can be earned.

"Time-and-a-quarter to time-and-a-half is paid for Saturday afternoon work, and double time for Sunday work. Men could earn from £7 to £10 per week—and pay no income-tax.

"Men will work on Saturday and Sunday, when they get handsomely paid, but will absent themselves on other days or parts of days.

"The head of a firm, who has shown a splendid example in his work, and is most kindly disposed to all workers, states in his reply to us: 'Our trouble is principally with the ironworkers, especially riveters, who appear to have a definite standard of living, and who regulate their wages accordingly; they seem to aim at making £3 per week: if they can make this in four days, good and well; but if they can make it in three days, better still. … The average working-man of to-day does not wish to earn more money, and put by something for a 'rainy day,' but is quite content to live from hand to mouth, so long as he has as easy a time as possible."

What words are strong enough to condemn the action of such men who, safe in their homes from the perils of the serving soldier, and infinitely better paid than the man who daily risks his life in the trenches, are ready deliberately to jeopardise the safety of our Empire by taking advantage of the gravest crisis in our history to levy what is nothing less than industrial blackmail? It cannot be pretended that these men are under-paid: they can earn far more than many members of the professional classes. Just as truly as the coal and wheat "rings" are exploiting the miseries of the very