The first and second industrial revolution occurred between the 18th and the 19th centuries. It was characterized by major changes in mining, agriculture, manufacturing, transportation and technology. It marked a major turning point in the human history by the profound effects it had on the society. This paper discusses its impact on workers/labor conditions.
The enclosure laws that required all grounds meant for grazing to be fenced at the land owner’s expense made many farmers to be bankrupt. They therefore had to work in the emerging factories to survive in the cities that had higher living costs. They were forced to work longer hours for less money. Mine workers were made to work in unsafe pits without safety gear. Many families were forced to send out their children to work in factories since they desperately needed money. Children worked in worse conditions than adults; they received lesser pay and were often beaten. These conditions were further worsened by laissez-faire approach that had been taken by governments. There was limited government regulations imposed on factories which made factory owners to pursue the most profitable path without regard of well being and safety of their workers.
The poor working conditions led to the development of trade unions. They were formed with the intention of advancing the interest of workers. Trade unions would demand better working conditions and better pay by withdrawing labor hence halting production. Employers were forced to give in to avoid costs associated with lost production. This led to the present day labor movements which agitate for workers rights. Increased social unrest forced governments to take actions. Various Acts were passed to bring reforms such as the Health and Moral of Apprentices Act and the Factory Act which was amended severally. These Acts formed the basis of today’s labor laws that govern employer-employee relationships. These events had a great influence on the good working conditions enjoyed by workers today.
Reilly, K. (2010). Worlds of History, Volume Two: Since 1400: A Comparative Reader (illustrated ed.). Boston: Bedford/st Martins.