The Stage of the Wage-Slave Market
The Board of Trade returns show that employment in July was worse than in June. As compared with a year ago a general decline is shown. In the 270 trades unions, with an aggregate membership of 568,272 making returns, 34,494 (or 6.1 per cent.) were reported as unemployed at the end of July, as compared with 5.9 per cent, a month earlier, and 4.9 per cent in July, 1903. The mean percentage of unemployed returned at the end of June during the ten years 1894-1903 was 3.8.
The returns also show a net decrease in the average rate of wages of a limited number of workpeople for whom returns are available of about 6d. per week per head. This must mean a net loss to the workers of at least £200,000 per week, if the mass of the unorganised workers are in as bad a position as the Trade Union members making returns.
As Lord Stalbridge, presiding at the annual meeting of the London and North-Western Railway Company, estimated the loss of that one line as about £21,000 during the .Easter and Whitsuntide holidays alone—”principally owing to the decreased spending power of the workers “—this rough calculation seems not unlikely to be near the mark. This is the loss of the “lucky” workers, who remain in work. Add to this the total loss of wages of, at least, half-a-million unemployed wage-slaves—and then, hurrah (!) for the senseless ” system ” of Capitalism, which involves all this unnecessary waste and misery.
The real wage of the worker as measured by its purchasing power has, since 1900, been reduced by 10 per ceut.
(Socialist Standard, September 1904)