Observations on the influence of strikes upon real wages

Johnston, Robert Mackenzie 1890 , 'Observations on the influence of strikes upon real wages' , Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 196-201 .

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At the present moment in Europe, America, and Australasia,
many industries are paralysed and the well - being or
comfort of thousands of families are more or less sacrificed
by organised or enforced idleness involving a considerable
diminution in the creation of commodities or real wealth.
These Strikes, as they are termed, are entered upon by
thousands of honest, hardworking, peace-loving men.
loyalty to their order and to their recognised leaders, they
display many characteristics which cannot but excite some
degree of wonder and admiration; for this voluntary
suspension of the means of livelihood to them not only
involves unflinching self-denial of ordinary comforts, but also
the facing of a terrible risk that in. the dark, prolonged
struggle, the lives of those that make life dear to them may
be crushed and overwhelmed by want and misery.
In other words, it is possible to regulate and alter
the distribution of the aggregate wealth of consumable
necessaries of life, but so long as this aggregate wealth fails
to be increased per capita per year, Strikes cannot increase
the real wages or the purchasing power of a day's labour of
all wage-earners. In a word they cannot divide more than
what has actually been created or produced, although the
nominal rates of wages and nominal prices of commodities may
both be raised to any extent without real benefit to anyone.
In conclusion it seems only too true, as asserted by Mr.
Grunton, "That nothing can improve the social condition of
the masses, whether it raises nominal wages or not, which
does not increase the general rate of real wages, the degree
of which may be universally taken as the accurate measure of
social progress;" and, "there are no economic means by
which the material condition of the masses can be permanently
improved which do not tend to increase the
aggregate production of wealth per capita."

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Johnston, Robert Mackenzie
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers and Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
ISSN: 0080-4703
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

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