LIFE OF THE WORKING CLASS


Many people migrated from rural areas into urban with hope to find better life in the city but in many people were faced with living in worse conditions than in countryside. Growing number of job seekers forced the factory workers to work for very low salary sometimes even for 14 hours or more otherwise they lost the job.

Because of the big competition on market were factory owners forced to modernize their factories all the time and keep the low price of their products if they wanted to stay in business. Low salaries of factory workers enabled the factory owners part of necessary capital for constant investments. Later had a big impact on amount of salary of factory workers and their harsh living conditions. Extremely low salary also forced the workers wife and soon even his children to find a job to survive.

Working class was not homogeneous and was divided according on their income:

- skilled workers (blacksmiths, locksmiths...) had the highest income because of their skills and could afford to rent an apartment and support their families.

- unskilled auxiliary workers were the most numerous and had very low salaries. They had a very long working hours (16 to 18 hours) and often lost their jobs. Seeking for new jobs forced to move often. The unqualified workers were mostly working in building industries, in constructing railways...

- women and children were at the bottom by income. Women reached only 50% and children 25% of male salary. They were mostly working in textile industry. Children were also working the works for which were adults to big (mine ditches, factory chimneys). Because many children were already working at age of 4 or 5 in unhealthy working conditions (dark, dust, noise) were their childhoods years of misery.

Because of mechanized procedures work in factories ran without stopping and changes. Work was monotonously and many accident at work occurred. If one worker was too slow he caused the delay and this case the worker was fired. In a case of giving birth women could get fired because giving birth was considered a private matter.

Low incomes caused bad living conditions for the workers. They could only afford an apartment or room in working class communities which were overpopulated, without watter supply, uncobbled and filed with dirt. At the beginning the workers lived in sheds covered with straw or in old houses and basements. Later they began to built housing buildings similar to barracks which were dirty, with running watter only at the hallways... In one apartment often lived numerous families. Lack of fresh air and daylight had a great impact on many diseases, especially tuberculosis. Poverty and famine also led to big scale of criminal and prostitution.

Hard living and working conditions led the worker to act to improve their conditions:

- Luddites were destroying the machinery (especially in textile industry) which they blamed for their harsh conditions.

- Strikes turned into rebels in Lyon in 1831, 1834 and in Silesia in 1844.

- The Chartist movement in Great Britain was the first organized workers movement but workers movement in Great Britain declined after the suppression of the Chartist movement.