New Lanark - Extract from Truck Report 1871
At New Lanark cotton spinning works (Lanarkshire) there are between 500 and 600 hands employed, including women and children. The pays are monthly. No advances in cash are given, but a store is kept by the company, at which the work people get credit during the month. The process of settlement is thus described by Mr. Sinclair, the storeman, who has been in the service of the company for upwards of 25 years. "Every one of the workers," he says, "gets a line showing the amount of his wages, and the amount of his store account is put upon it. The first column is for the name of the worker, the second for the wages, the third for the sick society, the fourth for the rent, the fifth is for the store account, the next is for sundries, the next is for the school, the next is the amount of all these put together, and then the balance brought out is in the column on the right hand." The clerk on pay days pays over to the workman with one hand the amount of his wages, and then receives back with the other the amount of his debt to the store (entered in column 5). That he goes through this ceremony, Mr. Sinclair, the storeman, assured us.
Q Do you believe he goes through the ceremony of paying the workers with the one hand, and taking it back with the other ? - Yes, I am sure he does. One of the pay clerks is a brother of mine; there are two of them.
Q Then the advance clerk is a brother of the storeman ? - My brother is a clerk at the works, and pays the wages.
Q And the clerk at the works who pays the cash is a brother of the storeman ? - Yes.
Q You still think he goes through the ceremony of paying the workers with the one hand, and taking it back with the other ? - Yes.
Q How long has he done that ? - Since the Truck Act came into operation.
Q That is between 30 and 40 years ago, is it not ? - I don't know the time, but I believe it has been done since the Act came into operation.
Q Do you seriously believe that he goes through that ceremony ?- I am quite sure that ho does. .He gets money for that purpose.
Q Have you anything else to show us ?- I could show you the way in which the books are kept, if you wish to see it.
This procedure is ,believed at New Lanark to satisfy the requirements of the law. Should the workmen, on receiving the cash, decline to pay their back accounts, "they don't pay their accounts they just go away."
Q Does anybody communicate that understanding to them ?- I am not aware of anyone communicating it to them. They just know themselves that when they don't pay their accounts they don't get any more work, and they just go away.
Abstract of Evidence
I am storeman at New Lanark. I have been there 25 years. The work is cotton spinning. There are perhaps 500 or 600 hands, including women and children. The pays are monthly. Advances are given, but not in money. They can get credit at the store. They get their wages on the pay-day, and they pay their accounts with them if they please, and if they do not they just keep them. Under the Truck Act every one has to get his wages into his own hands. If they keep them they leave the work at once. They are not exactly dismissed, but it is understood that when they do not pay their accounts they must go away. They do not pay their accounts to the store; they pay them to the pay clerk when they get their pay. The whole of their wages are first given into their hands, and then they are asked to pay their store account. If they do not choose to do it they keep it. The pay clerk has the store account before him and every worker brings his line showing the amount of the wages and the amount of the store account. I have never been at the pay clerk's office on pay-day, but I am sure he goes through the ceremony of paying the workers with one hand and taking it back with the other. He gets money for the purpose of paying it. The advance clerk is the storeman's brother. The profits of the store go to the employers.