Employment of Children in Factories

In Philippines, a few factories the regular hours of labour do not exceed eleven. Eleven hours is called a day at Leeds, but it is seldom that in this district the hours are really less than twelve, while occasionally they are thirteen. There are many places were in the regular hours of labour do not exceed ten; while it appears that some of the workpeople labour upon an average not more than nine hours daily. In these towns indeed there is no factory labour properly so called, for the operatives, with few exceptions, work at their own houses. But in some of the factories in the great clothing district the hours of labour are the same; seldom if ever exceeding ten. In general, however, they are somewhat longer; both in the carpet and in the clothing factories they are seldom less than eleven and scarcely ever more than twelve; this is the average; for there is considerable irregularity in both; in the carpet factory, partly on account “of the dissipated habits of many of the weavers who remain idle for two or three days, and make up their lost time by working extra hours to finish their piece on Saturday,” and partly because “the weaver has often to wait for material from the master manufacturer where particular shades of colour may have to be died for the carpet he is weaving; while the clothing factories, being for the most part worked by water power, cannot of course be carried on with regularity”. One of the witnesses, a proprietor, states that owing to the want of a due supply of water the workpeople sometimes cannot work more than three hours a day in summer; and that on an average they do not, in the summer season, work more than six hours a day. Another witness, an operative, deposes that his children in the factory in general go away after nine hours work, and that they play so much that he does not think they really work above four or six hours. And a third witness, a proprietor, (chairman of the woollen manufacturers of Gloucestershire,) deposes that in his own factory, in those parts in which children are employed, the regular hours are from nine in the morning until four in the evening, deducting an hour for dinner; and that for the last three years the children have worked only seven hours daily. In all the districts these hours are exclusive of the time allowed for meals, and of time lost from the machinery going wrong, and from holidays.…

The present inquiry has likewise brought together a large body of evidence relative to those various circumstances connected with the state of factories which concur with the nature of the employment in exerting an important influence on the health of the workpeople, whether children or adults, but which more especially affects the health of the former. Such concurrent circumstances are, the situation of the factory, the state of the drainage about the building, the size and height of the workrooms, the perfect or imperfect ventilation, the degree of temperature, the nature and quantity of the effluvia evolved, whether necessarily or not necessarily, in the different processes of manufacture, the conveniences afforded to the work-people for washing, and changing their clothes, on leaving the factory, and the habitual state both of the factory and of the operatives as to cleanliness. The working-rooms in the large and modern buildings are, without exception, more spacious and lofty; the buildings are better drained; more effectual expedients are adopted to secure free ventilation and to maintain a more equable and moderate temperature. It is of the old and small mills that the report pretty uniformly is—”dirty; low-roofed; ill-ventilated; ill-drained; no conveniences for washing or dressing; no contrivance for carrying off dust and other effluvia; machinery not boxed in; passages so narrow that they can hardly be defined; some of the flats so low that it is scarcely possible to stand upright in the centre of the rooms;” while the account of the recent structures and the large establishments in general is “infinitely better managed in respect to ventilation, height of roofs, and freedom from danger to the workers near the machinery, by the greater width of the passages in the working-rooms, and by the more effectual boxing in of the machinery, than those on a small scale.”

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