The painting behind the bar needed a cleaning; years of exposure to the tavern's kitchen had layered on a thin film of grease that muddied the lines. Eila gave the barkeep her best smile. "What's the story of that painting?"
A hearty laugh. "Askri girl like you walks into a Travailier's bar and doesn't know our story?" The barkeep handed her a glass. "Figured you'd like some of your own wines, they've been getting popular recently. Have a drink and I'll tell you the story. Gents! Listen up! The Travailiers!"
All eyes in the bar turned, a collection of mostly men, a few women here and there, but Eila noted that virtually all had the rough, calloused hands of physical labor. The barkeep continued. "Who are we?!"
"The workers!" The shout was in unison, with a clattering of mugs and forks against tables and the stomping of feet.
"That's right!" The barkeep pointed a thumb at the painting of three figures. "This work represents the three core tenets of our association. Workers! Sound off!"
"Sweat!" The man on the left, pulling a load on a wagon.
"Strength!" The woman on the right, hammering on an anvil.
"Solidarity!" The man in the center, holding a flywheel centered over his chest. The last was followed with a rhythmic pounding and hooting; the patrons had clearly done this before.
"And that, is all that one needs to know about the Travailiers. You can read the histories if you like, of course." The barkeep gave a wave as the rest of the patronage returned to their own drinks. "Now, we're always happy to entertain guests, but most of us consider this a sanctuary, our own little hideaway from the rest of the Capital. I'll serve you as much wine as you can pay for, but fact of the matter is that folk here may see the polish on your nails and not take kindly to a rich girl slumming it at the docks."
Eila shook her head. "I'm a dancer. Not rich at all, it's just part of the job."
The barkeep frowned. "Might be worse. The boys here mean well but it can get a little rough. One might ask you to give them a dance if they find out. Look, you're free to come and go but I can't guarantee that you'll be treated proper lady-like here."
Eila smiled again, but this time without her eyes. "I thank you, but please don't worry on my behalf. I can take care of myself."
The Travailiers are a loose alliance of the guilds and workers that comprise the 'physical labor' element of Etoilean society. Specifically, manufactory workers on the lines are organized in conjunction with the major craft-labor guilds of Etoile. While workers are not expected to pay dues to the Travailiers, all agree to be bound to its bylaws and principles as a precondition for employment eligibility at sanctioned and licensed manufactories. Members of the guilds are also bound to these bylaws, but their membership in a Guild typically imposes more onerous requirements than that of the Travailiers.
Notably, the Travailiers have no staff of its own - necessary roles are pulled from the already present Guild rosters. For example, should a manufactory worker under the Travailers enter a dispute with their employer, a negotiator may be assigned from any of the member guilds.
Major Guilds under the Travailiers umbrella include the Constructors, Extractors, Longshoremen, Wagoneers, Weavers, and the Cleaners (oft referred to as the Trashmasters). Notably, neither the Engineers or the Mercenary's Guild are members of the Travailiers.
Although a relatively new meta organization, the Travailiers represent a much older cultural bloc - the workers of the cities, as opposed to either the agricultural workers (and their predecessors in Skapetry Serfdom
) or the nobility. Vast numbers of Etoileans live in cities in the 700s when compared to the relatively small towns of pre-Etoilean Saibh, and the nonstop working shifts of the manufactories have created a unique, rough-and-tumble subculture of men and women that work hard on the lines in the day and play hard in the evenings.
The Travailiers reflect this, with members encouraged to take pride in their job of building Etoile, with hints of culture clash with the nobility and with the academic classes.
The mission of the Travailiers is to ensure that workers in manufactories are treated in accordance to their importance in Etoile and their role in advancing Etoilean Progress. To this end, members of the Travailiers who are not members of the Guilds are afforded a measure of the sanction and benefits of proper Guild members. Apart from the purely legal aspects, the Travailiers also work to maintain a general unity of values among its constituents - a solidarity between those who work with their hands.
The Travailiers have no assets or buildings of its own, instead borrowing the halls of its member guilds for meetings. Unofficially, it's common knowledge that a number of taverns and restaurants welcome only Travailiers as patrons.
With the advent of manufactories and large scale production of goods came a need for workers to run the machinery. The first generation of Power
machines were fragile and delicate, requiring dedicated engineers merely to keep the production lines running. As the manufacturing line improved over time, the knowledge burden required to operate the machines lessened, and in the current era workers can be hired to run lines without any sort of special training.
This resulted in an unforeseen problem - contracts between commercial interests and guilds of specific skills are negotiated from a position of roughly equal power, but no such guild exists for simple untrained workers operating Powered machinery. Without the power of a guild to negotiate contracts and determine appropriate working rules, more and more manufactories began hiring less qualified workers on secretive terms that would be deemed unacceptable by any guild, with regards to compensation and safety. This eventually culminated in a magisterial inquest into the conditions of one manufactory of ill-repute, where it turned out that the manufactory owner had 'hired' prisoners of the local guard to work the lines without pay, which the magistrates declared to be slavery.
The resulting uproar forced a reckoning, and as an expedient, the Principality formed a new 'trade association' for all manufactory workers across Saibh
. The Travailiers are explicitly not a guild (as there was no obvious unique skillset that this group of workers had to offer), instead serving as a means of ensuring transparency in labor dealings and ensuring standard treatment of workers. All manufactories across Etoile are now obligated to work with the Travailiers by Principality law.