The Flaws in Germinal
At first glance, one might say the capitalist system is righteous and it leads to more productivity, but upon discreet examination, the system has numerous flaws. As we discussed in class, one of the main flaws was the inability of the workers to advance themselves in society beyond the point of keeping food in their stomachs. One generation after another follow each other down below into the mines without cessation.
First and foremost the company needs to insure that all members of the mine town have enough to eat, enough to wear, and a roof over their head. The company can possibly provide clothing and food through a ration-based system that guarantees the people will not die of starvation or frostbite. These are necessities that the company should provide even if they are in debt. The workers should also receive a salary based on performance and profits of the company. This spending money can be used for amenities or the worker can save it if he or she one day desires to move away and attempt to start a better life somewhere else.
The root of the problem lies with the education the residents of the mine town receive. Children as young as seven or eight are being sent down to work in the mines when they should be starting school. If families are unable to pay for schooling a type of “indentured worker” system might work out where children can attend school for free if they agree to provide the company with a year(s) work when they become of age to work. That also brings up the issue of child labor. Children should not work until at least 16 and even then they should not be responsible for dangerous and important jobs such as securing the limbering.
Another important issue concerns the rights of the workers. Workers’ unions should be set up and all should join to make sure that the company does not use and abuse the workers. Unions should unite all workers with the same profession across the region. A strike when carried out effectively will cripple the company and force them to pay higher wages. The strike in Germinal was ineffective because only workers from one mine out of the several the company had were on strike and even in the one mine, many still went to work. Also, in Germinal, the company shows no concern whatsoever for the health and safety of its own workers. Conditions in the mine are horrendous beyond belief. Doctors hired by the company hide the truth from the workers. Unions should protect and unite the workers.