Monday, February 27, 2023

America’s Return To Victorian ‘Values.’

 Through their most notorious organs of science, such as Dr. Ure, Professor Senior, and other sages of that stamp, the middle class had predicted, and to their heart’s content proved, that any legal restriction of the hours of labour must sound the death knell of British industry, which, vampire like, could but live by sucking blood, and children’s blood, too...Yet the lords of the land and the lords of capital will always use their political privileges for the defence and perpetuation of their economic monopolies…. they will continue to lay every possible impediment in the way of the emancipation of labour.,..To conquer political power has, therefore, become the great duty of the working classes.”

Karl Marx, Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association. 1864

The 1833 Factory Act and the 1842 Mines Act began to ameliorate  the ages that children could be exploited and restricted the hours they could work.

The  1878 Factory Act prohibited work anywhere before the age of 10.The 1880 Education Act made it compulsory  for children up to ten years old  to go to school This  then became up to twelve years old.

Child labour laws were not enshrined in the United States until The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.

A piece in RT by Bradley Blankenship, 24\2\23, examines the efforts by American capitalists to reintroduce child labour.

Amid an ongoing push for higher wages by US workers, including union-building efforts and a national railway strike that was averted last December, some states are finding ways to undercut the working class.

One method, as Business Insider reports, is for the US to start allowing children aged 14-17 into the workforce. The federal government has said this practice is already increasing in an illicit fashion, too.

In the last month, Republican lawmakers in Iowa and  Minnesota have introduced legislation that would allow exceptions to existing child labour regulations. This is aimed at ameliorating the ongoing labour shortage in the US, which is also plaguing other countries, predominantly in the West.

The proposed bills in these states would allow children to work more hours and “protect employers from liabilities due to sickness or accidents,” which could help specific industries like construction and meatpacking that are being hit hard in these states.

The federal government also create a new rule in January allowing people wishing to be professional truck drivers to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) at the age of 18 instead of 21. This was done because, as CNN reports, “the head of the American Trucking Associations said the industry needed about 80,000 more drivers.

Minnesota wants to see 16 and 17-year-olds allowed to work in construction, which can be a dangerous job. Iowa wants to see even younger children allowed to work in their meat-packing plants.”

Dave C.

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