Nowadays labor questions justifiably concern everyone. When it comes to an industrial plant, one is not satisfied any more to be informed on the quality of its products, on its manufacturing processes, on the nature of its equipment. One wants to know how the workmen are treated there; this concern does not solely lie with the civil servants charged by the government with applying the recent laws for the protection of people employed in the factories; it has existed for a long time among the numerous free associations which are dedicated to the study of social problems and researching the means of solving them peacefully and equitably, and for a long time before that among certain owners and heads of industry concerned with the material interests and moral of their workers.
The heads of the House of Pernod and Sons did not wait to display the benevolent feelings that animate them with regard to their personnel, the explosion of sympathy which has occurred these last few years for the working classes. Indeed, Mr. Bernard Lavergne, senator from Tarn, in his book The Social Evolution published in 1893, notes, in speaking of the House of Pernod and Sons, that “sympathy for the workman is traditional in that establishment.” This sympathy was illustrated in 1871 by an important fact in the history of the House of Pernod and Sons. Without knowledge of what the state of the matter was elsewhere in the country, Mssrs. Louis and Fritz Pernod spontaneously introduced their personnel to participation in a benefit plan and, after careful consideration, they decided that the best form for that plan to take was that of a retirement fund. They wanted to create a savings plan so that when the workers could no longer work due to age or infirmity, they would find themselves in charge of a small nest egg by means of which they could either face urgent needs, or start a small business; these savings were also to constitute an invaluable resource for families deprived of their breadwinner by death. The proposed goal has been fully attained in the 23 years the plan has functioned to the complete satisfaction of everyone concerned. The retirement fund consists of a share determined by the operating profits, contributed each year by the House o Pernod and Sons to its workmen and employees.