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others have disappeared entirely from the trade. Complaints re sweating are conspicuous by their absence.1
This testimony of the inspectors in regard to the above branches of the clothing trades is fully confirmed by the reports of other investigators in regard to the same and other trades. Thus, the Report of the Royal Commission of 1902-03, an unusually sober document, by no means free from criticism of the wages boards, said with reference to the clothing trade:
To sum up the evidence in this trade, sweating in its worst form, which brought misery into so many homes, has almost disappeared, and if undercutting, and the payment of unduly low wages still exists, it is chiefly in the case of a few outworkers who act in collusion with their employers."
The same report said of the underclothing trade:
Workers themselves admit that there is a great improvement in their earnings. Such of the old sweaters as still remain in business have settled down to the payment of fair wages while others have disappeared from the trade."
Of the shirt-making trade it was said that,
It will be admitted as a fact beyond dispute that in this trade the factory law has broken down a hideous form of sweating, and protected in no small degree an industrious and deserving class of women.1
Evidence furnished by later investigators offers no contradiction to these early optimistic reports as to the success of the boards in preventing sweating. When I was in Victoria in 1912, not only the factory inspectors but the men who had been most deeply concerned in the movement to prevent sweating, Mr. Samuel Mauger, Secretary of the Anti-Sweating League, Dr. Charles
1 Report of Chief Inspector for 1901, p. 39.
2 Report of the Royal Commission appointed to Investigate and Report on the Operation of the Factories and Shops Law of Victoria, p. xli.
Strong, one of its early presidents and promoters, Mr. Alfred Deakin, Rev. A. R. Edgar and Sir Alexander Peacock were unanimous in the opinion that sweating no longer existed in Melbourne and its suburbs, unless perhaps in isolated instances in industries not yet brought under the influence of a wages board's determination. The Anti-Sweating League still maintained an existence not only to exercise a watchful eye over the administration of the Factories Act but also to bring to the attention of Parliament the needs of new boards in industries where wages seemed to be unduly low. Trade-union secretaries when asked whether they considered that "sweating" had been eliminated by the wages boards usually replied that in the sense in which that term was popularly used it had been, but that in many industries wages were still below what trade unionists regarded as reasonable rates of pay.
In other wages boards states than Victoria, while there were no serious complaints in regard to sweating, the conditions in the trades in which sweating is most likely to occur did not appear on the whole to be as favorable for the workers as in that state. In South Australia the delay in securing boards or in securing a revision of the rates fixed by the first boards in such trades as dress-making, millinery, shirt-making and white goods, and ready-made clothing, kept the wages in these trades abnormally low. Especially in the millinery business was the situation bad. The board itself had fixed the minimum rates "for females of the age of 21 years for the first, second and third years respectively" at the ridiculously low rates of 5s. 6d. ($1.33}) and 8s. ($1.94) a week. The determination was referred by the Minister to the Court of Industrial Appeals which confirmed it as issued by the board. Wages in this trade," said Mr. Bannigan, the Chief Inspector,
are the poorest of all callings, the highest rate fixed being only 16s. 6d. ($4) per week which is out of all proportion to the ruling rates in other classes of trade." 1
In New South Wales the wages in most trades, especially those in which the workers are well organized, are fully as high as in Victoria, but the trades in which women are largely employed do not appear to be as much under the influence of wages board determinations as they are in Victoria. I was surprised to find, in several instances when in company with the inspectors I visited factories in which many females were employed, that for these workers no wages boards had as yet been established.
Closely connected with the problem of sweating is that of home work. It was the workers in their own homes, it will be remembered, who were the chief victims of the sweaters prior to the passage of the wages board legislation. It was the hope of the reformers that legislation would force these workers into factories where the hours of work and sanitary conditions could be more easily regulated. That the number of home workers did as a result of the determinations rapidly decline for a time in most lines of industry in which they were employed seems indisputable. This in some instances seems to have been due to the fact that the piece-work rates (by which alone the home workers are paid) were fixed on a basis higher than the time rates in factories. This had the effect of causing the manufacturers to employ workers in factories by preference.2 Perhaps fully as influential as the change in wages in bringing about this result was the change
1 Report of Chief Inspector of Factories in South Australia for 1911, p. 7.
2 Reports of Chief Inspector of Victoria, 1897, pp. 6-7; 1898, pp. 9, 20-21; 1899, pp. 15-16; 1903, p. 26.
in methods of production whereby the work of manufacture was subdivided and the principle of team work introduced. This necessitated conducting the work in factories where the workers carrying on the different processes of production could maintain an even pace. This same change from home work to factory work, as is well known, has taken place in countries like our own where no wages boards have been in existence.
Of late years the decline in the number of registered home workers in the clothing trades of Victoria has been checked and there has been even a considerable increase. Thus in 1907, the Chief Inspector of Factories reported 1,455 registered home workers, all but 24 of whom were employed in various branches of the clothing trades, and he declared this to be "a larger number than has been registered for some years." 1 The only explanation offered for the increase was that "more work is being given out owing to the difficulty of securing enough workers to work in the factories." 2 By 1911 the number of registered out-workers had increased to 1,929, but the growth in numbers was explained by the fact that an amendment to the Factories Act forbade " the giving out from any factory of any work on clothing except to a registered out-worker" and this increased the number of registrations and gave the inspectors a more complete oversight of the out-workers.3
The number of home workers regularly employed at their own homes in New South Wales was 730 in 1910, which represented an increase of 90 over the preceding year. They were nearly all found in Sydney, and were
1 Report of the Chief Inspector for 1907, p. 62.
3 Report of the Chief Inspector for 1911, p. 28.
New South Wales Statistical Register for 1910, Part vi, p. 603; 1909, p. 527.
principally females employed in the manufacture of clothing and textile fabrics.
In South Australia there was an apparently enormous decline in the number of home workers from 1,075 in 1907 to only 20 in 1908. But the explanation for this is found in the fact that after 1907 only those home workers were required to register who were "engaged in the manufacture of articles for factories or shops" and this, as Mr. Bannigan said, reduced the number to "almost the vanishing point." 1
In Queensland the reduction in the number of home workers as a result of the wages boards' determinations has been very great. The Director of Labour in his report for 1913 says that the number of home workers in the ready-made clothing trade had fallen from 140 in 1909, the year before the award was made by the board, to 20 in 1913. He explains the decline as follows:
I think the decrease may be attributed to the fact that the occupiers find it entails a very great amount of work keeping tally of the parts made by the workers, and also they consider the piecework rate too high for the working of their indoor or outside workers. The award piece-work rates are not in force in a single factory in Brisbane; all are on weekly wages.2
But while, generally speaking, the determinations of the wages boards seem to have reduced, for a time at least, the number of home workers in the clothing trades, the determinations in certain other trades had the opposite effect. In the wicker trade of Victoria, for example, a wages board which had been formed in 1902 made a determination which increased the average weekly wage from £1, 2s. 11d. ($5.57) to £1, 6s. 2d. ($6.54). There was keen competition in this trade
1 Report of the Chief Inspector of Factories in South Australia, 1907, p. 2.
Report of the Director of Labour and Chief Inspector of Factories and Shops in Queensland for 1913, p. 24.