Mr. Tree to
Brussels, June 21, 1886. (Received July 3.)
Sir: Referring to my No. 89, and in compliance with your instruction No. 43, I have the honor to inform you that the Belgian Labor Commission has drawn up a series of interrogatories to serve in the investigation now in progress. There are altogether 100 questions, divided into 4 chapters. The following is an analysis of them:
- Chapter I.—On labor; 16 questions.
- Chapter II.—Relation between labor and
- On wages; 6 questions.
- On the contract of hiring; 7 questions.
- On the execution of the contract of hiring; 2 questions.
- Workingmen’s associations and employer’s unions; 10 questions.
- Chapter III.—The material situation of
- Budget of receipts and expenditures of the workingmen; 8 questions.
- Their homes; 5 questions.
- Their alimentation; 6 questions.
- Provident institutions, mutual aid societies, assistance fund, pension fund, savings fund, emigration of population, or introduction of new industries; 15 questions.
- Chapter IV.—The intellectual and moral
situation of workingmen:
- Their intellectual state; 8 questions.
- Their moral state; 11 questions.
- Of alcoholism; 6 questions.
Ten thousand copies of these interrogatories will be distributed. They have been sent to the governors of the several provinces for distribution to chiefs of industrial establishments, workingmen’s societies, individual workmen, and others.
A series of interrogatories is also being prepared on the subject of agricultural labor.
The Commission will also proceed next week to visit personally the various industrial centers for the purpose of prosecuting its inquiries, it travels at its own expense. At the same time I understand that the several subcommittees are making a careful study of questions, such as the labor exchange, boards of conciliation, provident funds, societies of mutual aid, &c.
The minister of foreign affairs, on my request, has kindly sent to me a copy of the royal decree of the 15th of April last, instituting the Commission, a copy of the rules which the Commission has elaborated for its guidance and regulation, three copies of the interrogatories, and a copy of the circular sent to the governors of provinces with these interrogatories, instructing them how to distribute them, &c.
I send you all of these documents by this mail, under separate cover as printed matter. I regret that their great length and lack of clerical assistance preclude my making a translation of them.
The minister also informs me that there will be no reports of subcommittees until after sufficient information has been obtained through the processes hereinbefore detailed, and that he will not fail to let me know as soon as anything further of interest on the subject transpires.
In the mean time it is a regrettable circumstance that some of the leaders of the workingmen’s societies are counseling the men not to participate in this inquiry.[Page 38]
The newspaper published here, called “Le Peuple,” and which is one of the organs of the workingmen and socialists, expresses itself in this manner on the subject:
The great governmental commission of industrial labor has invited the representatives of workingmen’s societies to attend the session which will be held Monday morning at the Palais des Academies. It has, moreover, addressed a series of interrogatories to most of the workingmen’s societies and to their newspapers. We remind the affiliated societies that the congress of Ghent has decided that the groups having adhered to the workingmen’s party should not respond to the interrogatories and should not participate in the inquiry, and we pledge them to respect this decision.
This sort of counsel perhaps illustrates as well as anything could do the bitterness existing here on the part of the working classes towards the bourgeoisie. It also illustrates to some extent the importance which political agitators here place on the necessity of keeping this bitterness alive.
I have, &c.,