restricted access 4. Factory Children: Politics, Education, and the State
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128 4 Factory Children Politics, Education, and the State The long public discussion of the 1860s and 1870s about child labor in industry finally yielded the 1882 law, the first decisive act to restrict the industrial employment of children. The following years and decades witnessed the introduction of labor protection and welfare legislation concerning all industrial workers. Starting with the 1882 law, the government limited the employment of children in all private industries. The laws banned the nighttime labor of children and their labor in perilous industries, including underground work in mines. Simultaneously, the state introduced mandatory schooling for children hired for factory work. Again, it is worth emphasizing that, beginning with child labor protection laws, labor legislation expanded its scope to include other categories of workers and other labor-related issues. During the late imperial decades , a series of laws limited the workday, legalized strikes and workers’ unions, introduced health care and state-sponsored medical insurance for all workers, and established pensions for some categories of disabled and retired workers. In order to implement labor protection and welfare laws, the state instituted the factory inspectorate. All these laws directly applied to hundreds of thousands of children employed in industry. What did these laws accomplish? What happened to those children who were banned from employment and to those allowed to take factory jobs? Factory Children: Politics, Education, and the State    129 The 1882 Child Labor Law and Its Implementation In December 1881, the minister of finances, N. Kh. Bunge, known as a liberal official, forwarded the new legislative draft “On the Labor of Children and Minors” to the Imperial State Council for approval. After revisions in various legal departments of the State Council, in June 1882, the council and the emperor finally accepted and approved the draft. In legal and historical literature, it became known as the June 1882 law. (The main points of this law are included in the appendix.) The law barred children under age twelve from employment in “factories, plants, and manufacturing establishments.” It limited work for juveniles between ages twelve and fifteen to eight hours a day, excluding time for breakfast, lunch, dinner, school, and rest. Work could not last more than four consecutive hours. It also prohibited work between nine p.m. and five a.m. in the summer and spring, and between nine p.m. and six a.m. in the fall and winter, as well as on Sundays and important imperial holidays. The law also banned the employment of children of the specified ages in “industries harmful to children’s health.” The ministries of Finance and the Interior were to issue a list of such industries, which they provided by June 1884. The provisions of the law obliged employers to provide their teenage workers at least three free hours a day, or eighteen hours a week, in order to attend public schools or their equivalent.1 In order to provide businesses with time to accommodate the law’s provisions, the government scheduled the enactment of all statutes that concerned children’s employment for May 1, 1883.2 Thus, after almost two decades of public discussion, the state finally imposed universal restrictions on child factory labor. The 1882 law, as well as later laws that applied only to certain kinds of businesses, distinguished three age categories of children. These categories included children under twelve years of age, who were banned from employment; children between the ages of twelve and fifteen (defined as maloletki); and juveniles from fifteen to sixteen (podrostki). Children in the latter two age categories, of course, were suitable for employment. Individuals age seventeen and above were considered adults. Child labor protection laws introduced after 1882 applied primarily to children 130    Factory Children: Politics, Education, and the State between ages twelve and fifteen and to a lesser extent to juveniles age fifteen or sixteen.3 The 1882 law concerned factory labor and also extended its reach to all private businesses equipped with steam colanders, steam or mechanical engines, and machines and lathes, and to all establishments that employed over sixteen workers.4 In all enterprises that fell under the 1882 law’s scope, it provided for a system of state control over working conditions for children. By June 1884, the government had organized the fifty-eight provinces of European Russia into nine “industrial districts.” In each district, an office of factory inspectorssupervisedtheimplementationof laws “that regulated employment , work, and education of juvenile workers and examined, with the aid of members of the local...


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Subject Headings

  • Children -- Russia -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
  • Industrialization -- Russia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Manufacturing industries -- Employees -- Supply and demand -- Russia -- History -- 19th century.
  • Child labor -- Russia -- History -- 19th century.
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