The Aims of the Committee - Lectures - How the Public Can Help - Examples of Help Afforded The Indemnity Fund for Helping Dismissed Employees
"The Industrial Law Committee was formed in 1898. Its objects are:
1. To supply information as to the legal protection of the industrial classes with regard to the conditions of their trade. This information to be given by means of correspondence, lectures, and printed matter to persons working among the industrial classes.
2. To constitute a central body to which may be reported breaches of the law and other matters relating to industrial employment, in order that these may be inquired into, referred to the proper authorities, and otherwise treated as may be advisable.
1. It is impossible to estimate the value of the work done by this committee, for, however excellent legislation may be, it is practically useless unless those in whose interests it is enacted know of its existence. It is also very necessary that those who, as district visitors, Sunday-school teachers, parish nurses, etc., work among the industrial classes should realise the scope of the laws which influence the lives of the people whom they wish to befriend. Therefore, wherever a sufficient audience can be brought together, a course of lectures, or a single lecture, is arranged by the committee, free of charge, on such subjects as the following: "How Our Industrial Laws Help Women and Children."
"Sanitation in the Home and Workplace." "Dangers from Fire and Machinery."
"The Industrial Position of Women." The Law Relating to Fines and Deductions."
"The Law Relating to Shops."
"The Law Relating to Dangerous Trades."
"The Law Relating to Wages."
" The Employment of Children," etc.
Most grateful thanks are expressed by those who attend these lectures when they find that their newly acquired knowledge of the law enables them to assist cases which before they had considered hopeless. For instance, a district visitor, finding a girl suffering with pneumonia induced by working in an unheated workroom, need only report the case to the secretary of the Industrial Law Committee, and it will be referred to the factory inspectors, whose duty it is to take action in such a case. People say sometimes that inspectors should discover breaches of the law for themselves, but when it is realised that there are only about 200 factory inspectors for Great Britain and Ireland, it will at once be obvious that an impossibility has been expected of them.
2. The second object of this committee is to deal with cases of overwork, etc. All complaints sent to them are dealt with in strict confidence, no one knowing the source from which they have been obtained.
The following are complaints sent in:
(a) Some girls employed in dressmaking had to work from 5 or 6 a.m. to 8 or 9 p.m. No time was allowed for meals, and the girls were kept in the workroom the whole time.
(6) Girls making wigs were forced to work in a temperature of 86° in the shade.
(c) Girls making metallic capsules were obliged to have their meals in a workroom, the atmosphere of which was charged with bronze dust.
All the above cases come within the scope of the law, and were referred at once to H.m. Principal Lady Inspector of Factories.
It is sometimes necessary for an inspector when visiting a workplace to question a worker, and in many cases the worker is placed in a most difficult position. Should she give false evidence, she is in danger of imprisonment, and if she tells the truth her employer may dismiss her on her return to work.
Here there is no legal remedy, and it would be very difficult to devise one. But the Industrial Law Committee, in this particular, goes beyond the law, and administers a fund for the help of those women and young persons who have been dismissed from their situations solely for giving evidence to, or for, H.m. Inspectors of Factories.
3. The third object of the committee is also most ably fulfilled. The consideration of the information received from all parts of the country is constantly engaging their attention, and when fresh industrial laws are proposed, or amendments to existing ones, this committee will have important evidence to lay before the legislature. Much has been done to aid in the effective administration of existing laws, not only of the Factory and Workshops Acts, the Truck Acts, and the Workmen's Compensation Act, but also with regard to the Public Health Acts, which protect the workers in their homes as the other Acts protect them in their workplaces. These Acts legislate for overcrowding, defective drains, insufficient water supply, etc.
All information regarding the society is supplied by the Secretary, Industrial Law Committee, 34, Mecklenburgh Square, London, W.c.