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A fair day's wages...

Posted by ESC on February 15, 2003

In Reply to: Day's Work posted by ESC on February 15, 2003

: : : : : Can anybody tell me what the phrase "a day's work for a day's pay" means? I need to translate this saying into german. However I am not sure whether I understood it correctly.

: : : : I am away from my library so I can't give you references at this point. But this phrase (to me) is about being an honest, good employee. The worker gives his/her employer a FULL day's work for a day's pay. If you are paid for eight hours, you are hard at work for eight hours. Not drinking coffee and gossiping with co-workers.

: : : : In modern terms, it is about not being a slacker, a goof-off or a goldbricker. You don't cheat your employer.

: : : This is an old slogan used in British Labour movement (and possibly the American as well)where is was about fair employment practices. In other words, a worker should be paid the going rate for the work put in regardless of his gender or race, etc. A worker paid less because he's on a job training scheme would be an example of someone who is putting in a day's work but not receiving a day's pay

: : : I am not sure which understanding of the expression predates the other but the idea that it's understood as being about not cheating employers is interesting.

: : Just found more evidence - sort of. A variation is the slogan of the American Federation of Labor, that is "a fair day's pay for a fair day's work"

: I believe you're right. My evidence: a brand name for plugs of tobacco chewed by miners (smoking wasn't allowed in the mines) was called "Day's Work."

The problem here is that phrase as posted is the reverse of the original:

"A fair day's wages for a fair day's work': it is as just a demand as governed men ever made of governing. It is the everlasting right of man." From "Past and Present" by Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881). Found in "Bartlett's Familiar Quotes," Seventeenth Edition.