Are mill workers being treated unfairly by masters? Some would say no, that the Masters' wages are fair and reasonable. Who has the right to tell them how to spend their own money? But I say that it is unfair and unreasonable what the Masters are doing. They have countless lives depending on them whose livelihoods rest in their care. I believe that the mill workers have the right to strike and the right to question the amount of wages that they receive. All of the tensions between these two classes of people who depend upon each other would be alleviated if the Masters would only listen to their workers point of view, then this conflict would be resolved.
There have been many questioning whether the workers have the right to strike. Surely the less money the Masters make, the less money they'll have to pay the workers. But Union representative Nicholas Higgins puts it this way:
'We know when we're put upon; and we'en too much blood in us to stand it. We just
take our hands fro' our looms, and say, "Yo' may clem us, buy yo'll not put upon us, my masters!" And be danged to 'em, they shan't this time!' (Gaskell, pg. 181)
You see, the wage hasn't changed for the past two years and now, all of a sudden, the Masters want to lower the worker's wages. Many mill workers and their families live in squalid conditions that are barely fit for human habitation. Many are just making do with what they have right now. Many, especially those with young children who are not factory age cannot afford to have their wages cut. Higgins stated earlier:
'...I take up John Boucher's cause, as lives next door but one, wi' a sickly wife, and eight childer...Why are we to haveless wage now, I ask, than two year ago?' (Gaskell, pg 183)
And then to top it all off, some mill owners, including John Thornton, owner of Marlborough Mills is threatening to take on imported workers from Ireland if his workers persist in going ahead with the strike. If he persists on this course of action, I fear that he will push his regular workers into doing something drastic out of desperation. Also I feel that another thing to be considered is the working conditions of the mills. With all of the cotton in the air, many workers get sick, some gravely so. Nicholas Higgins' daughter, Bessy, is one of them:
'I began to work in a carding-room...and the fluff got into my lungs and poisoned me...Little bits, as fly off fro' the cotton when they're carding it and fill