Profit versus Wages

Many railway stocks have (1) been deliberately watered, and (2) risen in price on the market, so that while railway men are badly paid, the present holders of the stocks are apparently making small profits. Many railway companies have enlarged their ordinary capital by the delightfully simple process of multiplication by two. £100 of original stock has been changed into £100 of “preferred” and £100 of “deferred.” This has not been done behind the scenes, but boldly and with the permission of our rich men’s parliament. As a consequence it is made to appear that the net receipts of railways are only about 3½ per cent. of their “paid up” capitals. But the nominal capitals have not been “paid up” ; and even in so far as the original capital is concerned much of it is unreal. Thus the magnitude of the injustice which they suffer is hidden from railway servants. They risk their lives for the public every day and what do they get for it? In 1904, the 27 leading railway companies paid in wages only £29,000,000 or only 25/- per employee per week ! These 27 companies own nearly all the railway lines, employ nearly all the railway servants and make nearly all the profits assessed by the Inland Revenue Commissioners. And what do these profits amount to ? As I have shown, they amount to nearly £40,000,000 per annum, or far more than is paid in wages in one of the most dangerous and most useful of all occupations.
–Chiozza Money, M.P., in “Riches and Poverty.”

(Socialist Standard, May 1908)

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