2010s >> 1909 >> no-55-march-1909

The Margin of Unemployment

 
In reviewing W. H. Beveridge's book on "Unemployment: A Problem of Industry,” Mr. Chiozza Money makes the following statement :

  “Mr. Beveridge recognises that, as things are, every trade (save and except, and he does not appear to point this out, such organised trades as the Post Office, the tramway business of London, the London and North Western Railway system, or the Prussian State railways) is necessarily surrounded by a variable margin of partly unemployed and wholly unemployed labourers who are essential to the working of the competitive system.”

One cannot help feeling staggered at the statement that in such trades as the Post Office, and in the tramway business of Loudon there is no margin of partly unemployed and wholly unemployed. Has not one of the many grievances of tramway men been the question of those who are only able to get odd days, or even odd hours, work ? And with the reduction in the staffs of railway companies that has gone on lately, the idea of the permanency of railway employment has received such shocks that even an M.P. should have noticed it. Again, in the Post Office, the thousands who are taken on at stated seasons and then discharged make the fact of the existence of a reserve of labour in that industry so plain that only a man wilfully blind to the failure of State capitalism to alleviate unemployment could have the temerity to deny it.