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Hours of Labour
The Curse of the Factory System: John
Fielden, M.P. (London, 1836) pp. 34-35.
Here, then, is the "curse" of our factory-system;
as improvements in machinery have gone on, the "avarice
of masters" has prompted many to exact more labour from their hands than
they were fitted by nature to perform, and those who have wished for the hours
of labour to be less for all ages than the legislature would even yet sanction,
have had no alternative but to conform more or less to the prevailing practice,
or abandon the trade altogether. This has been the case with regard to myself
and my partners. We have never worked more than seventy-one hours a week before
Sir John Hobhouse's Act was passed. We then came down
to sixty-nine; and since Lord Althorp's Act
was passed, in 1833, we have reduced the time of adults
to sixty-seven and a half hours a week, and that of children under thirteen years
of age to forty-eight hours in the week, though to do this latter has, I must
admit, subjected us to much inconvenience, but the elder hands to more, inasmuch
as the relief given to the child is in some measure imposed on the adult. But
the overworking does not apply to children only; the adults are also overworked.
The increased speed given to machinery within the last thirty years, has, in very
many instances, doubled the labour of both.
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4 March, 2016