Crew Wages


Ian Donaldson

Member
Nov 6, 2017
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Hello,
I hope I can explain this correctly. My query relates to the wages paid to Titanic crew. The National Archives BT 100/259, and referenced in ET, displays the wages as a monthly payment which I am struggling to grasp.
Firstly, most transatlantic voyages did not last a month, therefore crew were discharged at the end of each trip (assuming they returned to their port of departure). Knowing human nature as I do, never mind seamen, I do not believe they would wait till the end of the month to be paid. As they were paid in cash, bank accounts being a rarity for most working class, and continuous employment with one shipping line being unusual, there must have been an equivalent of an 'hourly rate' or 'pro rata' scheme for calculation of monies due at the end of each voyage.
The choice to 'sign on' for subsequent trips being at the discretion of the seamen (and how long the money lasted!). Lastly, , the unions fought against monthly pay in heavy engineering including shipbuilding, for the reason they believed that 52 weekly pays was worth more that 12 calendar month pays (some months having 5 weeks). 'Salaried' pay and conditions were usually the reserve of staff and managers. I realise the Merchant Navy was a conundrum of rules and regulations however, everyone had to know where they stood before they signed on, especially how much they would be earning and when they would receive it! I realise this is not the juiciest item for discussion, however, If someone on ET can point me in the direction I'd appreciate the help!
Regards to all.
 
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