The Determinants of the Cotton Weaver's Wage in Britain between the Wars: Principles, Criticisms, and Case Studies
Author: Jackson, Kenneth C.
Source: Textile History, Volume 39, Number 1, May 2008 , pp. 45-69(25)
Publisher: Maney Publishing
Abstract:Piece-rate arrangements in the British cotton weaving industry were anomalous in that they prescribed a weekly wage based on output. Although, to some extent, output reflected the work done by the weaver, it was also governed by technical and other factors which were beyond the weaver's control. A wage system which emphasized the repair of broken threads and the replenishment of empty shuttles would have been preferable since these were the principal elements of the weaver's work. The absence of a clear relationship between effort and reward confounded attempts to increase productivity in cotton weaving between the wars, and was a particular obstacle to the adoption of the 'more-looms' systems. This article explores the anomalies and the issues to which they gave rise, both at industry level and in a local context characterized by the manufacture of diverse fabric types. It concludes that there was an uncritical acceptance of traditional wage arrangements, reinforced by a fear that fundamental change would destabilize an already fragile system of industry level (that is, across the cotton weaving industry as a whole) bargaining.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2008-05-01