Did the Cost Outweigh the Benefits?
Help wanted! Long hours! Low pay! Unfair labor contracts! How could you turn us down? This might seem crazy but many people wouldn’t turn them down. They needed work and a paycheck. Even though the workers paid very little money and had long hours they still worked because once you’re in it’s hard to get out. So, did the cost outweigh the benefits for female Japan silk workers? The cost outweighed the benefits for three reasons: long, hard hours, low and unfair pay, and finally, unfair labor contracts.
The first reason the cost outweighed the benefits was because of the long, hard hours women had to work. They would work from 4:30 AM until 7:30 PM (Doc B). If you count it up that’s fourteen hours and 20 minutes. They only got a total of 40 minutes of break time during the day (Doc B). When the plant was busy the women were kept working until 10PM. Another unfortunate thing was that the workers only got one holiday day off every two weeks and the weekend days off did not exist at that time (Doc B).
Another reason the cost outweighed the benefits was the low and unfair wages. The difference in pay between genders was horrifying. Women would make between 9 and 13 sen per day while men would make between 16 and 27 cents per day (Doc C). With the money the women would make in a day they couldn’t even buy a pound of sugar. It would take them about 17 hours just to make enough to buy the sugar (Doc C). A man could make enough and then some in one day.
The final reason the cost outweighed the benefits was the unfair labor contracts. Parents would often accept earnest money in advance for their daughter(s) to go and work at the mill. If a girl were to quit her job then her parents would have to pay 20 times the earnest money back to the mill (Doc E). And if she didn’t want that to happen she would have to continue to work even though she didn’t want to. Women had to stay there and work until they were fired or they...
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