Hard Work, Weak Pay

The Industrial Revolution

Historical Background

Prior to the 19th century, there were little to no laws that indicated how much money they were able to make, how many hours they were allowed to work, or how safe their workplaces could be. Adam Smith and David Ricardo were capitalists that supported Laissez-faire government in which the government did not interfere with the country's economy. The workers had low pay and worked long hours in dangerous conditions. Children worked dangerous jobs and were payed the lowest out of men and woman.MAny factories had no safety regulations and were full of health hazards. During the labor reform movement several laws were passed to improve working conditions and wages.

Impacts in Great Britain

Social

Factories used many dangerous machines and factory owners often did not have safety guards to look out for the workers. Workers constantly put their lives in danger when they worked. The lack of windows and large space led to many health hazards, including cancer and many diseases. Children had to do work that adults could not do due to their size. The children were used as a cheap workforce by factory owners.


Economic

With the low pay workers received, many workers could barely afford to buy food to eat. In an attempt to benefit the economy to raise wages, many people began to support a Laissez-Faire government. A Laissez-Faire government restricts the government from interacting with the economy in any way. It was not until many people started to reform and many different acts were passed and unions were formed that caused wages to increase after 1830.


Political

Many work and labor acts were passed to reduce work hours, increase wages, and create safer working environments. The 1833 Factory Act set a minimum age for working children to reduce child labor. Children ages 9 - 13 cannot work more than 9 hours a day and children ages 13 -18 cannot work more than 12 hours a day. The Cotton Factories Regulation Act of 1819 regulated work hours and working conditions on children in the cotton industry. This act was much weaker than the 1833 Factory Act, therefore similar acts (such as the 1833 Factory Act) were later passed to enforce the Cotton Factories Regulation Act of 1819.

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Impacts on the World

Social

America followed in Great Britain's footsteps and used children as a cheap labor force in many American factories. Workers in America also demanded the same work benefits the British workers were fighting for. The American Federation of Labor was formed 1886 and many of their activists fought for higher wages and better working conditions. After many acts were passed in America, people began to have more stable economies and the population increased due to families having more money.


Economic

America and Great Britain, two major industrialized countries, had an increase in wealth and power compared to other countries in the world. This was due to their ability to mass produce many finished goods and successfully trade them to other countries. America and Great Britain gained economic superiority over non-industrialized countries. Non-industrialized nations like Africa, Asia, and Latin America had a decrease in wealth and power in the world.


Political

Many reforms movements occurred in America. These reforms were inspired by the labor reforms in Great Britain. In France, Charles Faurier was the leader of the Socialist movement. In the Socialist movement, the government controls certain parts of the economy. Karl Marx, leader of the Marxist movement, believed that war between social classes, temporary dictatorship, and a classless society will benefit the people economically and politically.

The Modern Day

Similar to many labor unions in the past, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) is a union that promotes better work conditions for modern day American workers. The modern minimum wage is now $8.50 and the minimum working age is 14 years old. Employees are paid extra for working overtime. Minors can only work in limited hours and certain occupations are denied to minors due to safety and health reasons. Acts and laws today guarantee fair and safe working conditions for all people.
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