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Rules Of A Factory In Berlin

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Rules of a Factory in Berlin:

The Analysis of Working in 1844

October 16, 2006


In the nineteenth century the working class had many struggles and hardships. Not only was the day-to-day life extremely strenuous outside of work, but while they were at work the employees had a set of precise rules to follow and abide by which were written by their employers. Some of these rules seem unclear to me because of how long ago they were enforced. But a lot of the rules are the same as rules for a workplace now. Just by reading the seventeenth chapter in our textbook, The West in the World, and a set of nineteen rules and regulations from the article, "Rules of a Factory in Berlin." I have learned, assumed, implied, and suggested many unsaid views of working the standard eleven-hour day in the nineteenth century.

It seemed to me that from the employers point of view they feel they are better than their employees and can do nothing wrong. In the article, "Rules of a Factory in Berlin," the first rule states that if an employee is two minutes or more late to work that person will not be able to work until the breakfast break, or the preceding break, is over; or they can work unpaid until then. Also if an employee is late by less than two minutes that employee will lose a half an hour's wages. To me these consequences seem too extensive because the employees are underpaid for the amount of work they do as it is. It is one thing to punish a worker for showing up late to work, but to take away a half an hour of his or her wages seems to extensive for me. These people worked eleven-hour days. A half an hour does not seem like too much time when someone works for that many hours each day, but the employees were working for almost nothing. After reading only the first rule I noticed that employers assume that they can set these kinds of rules,


and have their employees follow them because times were so rough that people would actually follow these rules just to feed their families. The seventh rule stated that there was to be no conversing in the workplace. I do not like how employers can just take advantage of their employees like that and actually have the employees follow these types of crazy rules. Although the employers may be taking advantage of their cheap labor in some ways, some of the rules are must haves at any workplace. Even today any employee will be immediately dismissed from their job if he or she shows up drunk. Also employees usually cannot smoke while on the job for most jobs. In the eighteenth rule about unfinished pieces of work it says that a general manager and two overseers value a piece of unfinished work to see how much money an employee would receive for it. The last sentence of this rule states that there is no appeal against their decision. This implies to me that the employers think that they cannot be wrong, and that is why an employee cannot appeal their decision. At the same time the general manager could underpay an employee for the amount of work done and the employee just has to take what they give him or her. Finally the last rule says that if an employee lost their copy of these rules by the end of the same day they received it, they would have to pay for a new copy. That just goes to show how employers assume that they can take advantage of their employees without having them quit.

If a company needs to come out with a two page long list of rules for their employees to follow, there must have been something wrong in the first place to make this happen. Although I do believe that the employers took advantage of their employees, every employee at every workplace does need to have a little guidance. The tenth rule





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