South Australia - Industrial Relations
- Editorial Comment
- Trades Hall
Also see under South Australia - Women - Industrial Relations.
An Essay on Sweated Labour
The insidious "sweating" of female labour by callous employers led many women into brothels and once there they, in the fullness of time, became introduced to vice, lechery and disease:
The poor distrust the Church. Why? For ages past the rich man's gospel has been preached thus to the less fortunate - "My brethren, remember if your lot is hard you must strive to bear it patiently. Carry your cross and it will be exchanged for a crown hereafter." And when the poor man reflects that the Archbishop of Canterbury gets #13,000 a year for carrying his cross his bile is stirred...
It goes without saying that, if people could afford to be married, there would be less prostitution, but when great firms pay only two and a half-pence for the making of a man's shirt - the seamstress to find the cotton - and it is so easy to step aside from the path of virtue, what is the sequence?
To conclude, it would be fitting, perhaps, to reproduce the following tilt at the inappropriate use of wealth which appeared in the local press at this period; its message is still applicable today:
When once the rich learn to love riches for the sake of use and not merely for their own selfish gratifications... then indeed we shall arrive at a better condition of affairs... [If] we were to see a little more manifestation that the wealth of the world was loved for the sake of use and not merely for a sort of missionary-box system of Christianity, then, indeed, the poor would be without excuse, for work would be more abundant and the poor, instead of being a thorn in the side of the wealthy aristocrats, would become their willing servants.
Driven to Prostitution
There were other women who used prostitution as a means to provide for themselves and their families:
If the means were at hand, many, I believe might be saved... There are many very young... many who have only been lately on the streets - many who are anxious to give up their wicked life, provided that they could obtain a decent situation.
What the drink-debased Helot slaves were to the children of their Spartan masters, the unfortunate creatures, both female and male, who are found crowding these haunts of vice should prove to any one who sees them in their wretched lurking-places. Here are to be found herded together young girls just entering womanhood, if their life can be called womanhood...
I have seen more of this class in about four or five nights in Adelaide than I have seen in proportion in a great many larger towns in England... Some of the females looked as if they ought to have been at school or at home with their parents...
To counter this evil "The Women of the White Cross" frequented the streets of Adelaide on a different mission:
There are heroines in Adelaide - devoted, self-sacrificing, courageous women, who leave the comfort of their homes to go out into the moral gutters of our city, when, under the shadow of night, vice comes forth without a blush upon its face to pursue its vocation of evil...
To conclude these brief remarks on the "social evil", as prostitution was termed in the Victorian era, consider a comment emanating from a young woman committed to a life of prostitution which gives an indication of a certain hypocrisy among the upper classes of Adelaide society:
We are despised by everyone, even our mothers and brothers, and are looked upon by the public as no better than beasts of the field... Mention [has been made] of young girls passing through the dance room to the brothel, but in my case it was not so... [I] was reared in a Baptist family and always attended church twice every Sunday... I know for a fact that there are gentlemen who go with their families to church on Sunday nights, and who come direct from there to our house...
Also see Adelaide - Prostitution.
"Seamstresses in Adelaide" is in the Register,
30 July 1870, page 7d.
"The Song of the Shirt" is in the Register,
24, 27 and 30 August 1887, pages 7g, 5b-7f and 3f.
A cartoon is in The Lantern,
21 December 1889.
"The Sweating System" is discussed in the Register,
5 April 1888, page 4h,
19 November 1888, page 5c,
24 November 1888, page 30e,
11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 18 and 24 December 1889, pages 4g-7a, 4g-6e, 7g, 7d, 7h, 4g-6a and 7h,
18 November 1889, page 6f,
10, 12, 13, 16, 20 and 24 December 1889, pages 3g, 4c, 6c, 6c-7a, 4c and 6e,
30 June 1890, page 4f.
Also see Register,
24 February 1890, page 7d,
19 and 28 July 1890, pages 4h and 7g,
4 and 11 August 1890, pages 6e and 3g,
4 June 1891, page 7c,
24 August 1891, page 6g,
4 July 1892, page 6g,
28 February 1893, page 6d,
6 May 1893, page 4h:
The iniquities of the sweating system still seems to fail to arouse the public conscience sufficiently... There are women at this present moment [who] if they slave their hardest, morning, afternoon and night, from week's end to week's end, they cannot possibly make more than about 1s and 3d [12 cents] a day...
The real remedy for sweating in the clothing trade is to multiply occupations for the people in other directions; to remove such stupid prejudices as that which prefers the genteel starvation of factory life to the healthy, well-paid, and wholesome occupation of domestic service...
"The Building Trade - The Sweating System" is in the Register,
16 May 1893, page 7h.
"Who Are the Sweaters" is explored in the Advertiser,
15 May 1893, page 7g; also see
27 July 1893, page 6f,
25 November 1895, page 4f,
18 October 1895, page 2d,
3 and 15 March 1897, pages 7f and 3f,
30 June 1899, pages 4f-6c,
6, 7, 18 and 24 July 1899, pages 5a, 7i, 4i and 3e,
20 November 1899, page 6f.
"Alleged Sweating in a Laundry" is in the Register,
10 January 1894, page 7e.
"Sweating the Seamstresses" is in the Express,
20 January 1897, page 4c.
"Sweating in Adelaide" is in the Register,
12 November 1896, page 10d,
18 June 1898, page 6b,
"The Curse of Sweating" in the Observer,
8 and 22 July 1899, pages 41 and 14c,
22 July 1899, page 6a,
"Sweating in Adelaide" in the Express,
25 and 26 July 1900, pages 4b and 3f,
28 July 1900, page 32a.
"Display of Sweated Goods" is in the Observer,
22 July 1899, page 14c.
Information on the Anti-Sweating League is in the Weekly Herald,
23 June 1900, pages 6a-9c; also see
4 and 11 August 1900, pages 6a-9c and 6b.
"The Factories Act - The Sweating Evil" is traversed in the Advertiser,
20 November 1899, page 6f,
4, 26, 28 and 30 July 1900, pages 8b, 8d, 4g-6d-10b and 7c.
Also see Register,
5, 10, 14, 28, 30 and 31 July 1900, pages 4c, 3d, 11h, 8e, 7b and 4d,
7 and 14 August 1900, pages 6e and 6i.
"Vilest of Sweaters" is in The Herald,
28 June 1902, page 8a; also see
12 July 1902, page 7b,
23 August 1902, page 7b,
18 and 25 October 1903, pages 6d and 8a,
28 March 1903, page 1c,
11 April 1903, page 8d,
13 October 1903, page 6b.
"Sweating in the Clothing Trade - Starvation Prices" is in the Advertiser,
2 November 1903, page 5h; also see
3 November 1903, page 4c and
6 and 10 November 1903, pages 4d and 3a,
3 and 10 August 1904, pages 4b and 5c.
"Labour and the Church - Presbyterians on Sweating" is in the Register,
7 May 1904, page 8g.
The failures of the past do not justify indifference to the needless and painful wearing out of human lives. Sweating is atrociously bad and ought to be suppressed by all legitimate and effective means... Where the workers are oppressed, discouraged and discontented they must become mechanical, if not careless, for without enthusiasm the best energies lie dormant.
17 July 1906, page 6c; also see
18 July 1906, page 4c .
5, 8 and 10 March 1904, pages 8e, 6g and 3h.
Also see South Australia - Social Matters - Domestic Servants.
Further information is to be found in the Advertiser,
7 April 1904, page 4c,
14 May 1904, page 10d,
13 July 1904, page 6b,
12, 17 and 18 August 1904, pages 4c, 6g and 4c,
3 May 1905, page 4d.
A letter written by E. Siemer, Secretary of the Working Women's Trade Unions, is in the Advertiser,
15 October 1904, page 5e:
The landless still cry for their birthright. The robbed and wronged are still lying by the wayside, while the priest and Levite professing Jesus as their guide, pass by on the other side... Scarcely does a day pass but some terrible crime is committed... Yet the clergy are silent. It the churches are not the "sanctuaries of sweaters" why are they not taking part in the present enquiry on the subject.
Also see Register,
15 and 30 November 1904, pages 6i and 3h,
17, 18 and 21 July 1906, pages 6c, 4c and 11d,
11, 15, 17 and 30 November 1904, pages 6d, 7f, 6c and 7b,
19 June 1906, page 6b,
19 July 1906, page 6c.
"Indirect Sweating - Holding Back Wages" is in the Advertiser,
24 January 1907, page 6d,
"Sweated Girls" on
31 March 1911, page 7e.
"Abolition of Sweating" is in the Advertiser,
27 September 1937, page 18d.
"A Site for the Trades Hall" and surrounding acrimony is to be found in the Express,
6 March 1886, page 3c,
28 September 1886, page 2c,
12, 18 and 22 July 1889, pages 7d, 4f-7a and 7d,
23, 24 and 29 July 1889, pages 4f-6a, 6c and 6a,
3, 8, 20 and 23 August 1889, pages 7h, 3d, 4f and 3h,
5, 7 and 10 September 1889, pages 7g, 7f and 3h:
It is now generally admitted in America that trades unions are a curse to the community and to none more so than to the very class from which these unions were formed. Let the people of SA, high and low, rich and poor, loudly protest against the proposed grant of a Trades Hall site, which would only assist to intensify an evil which needs stamping out...
(Also see Register,
1 October 1891, page 5a,
4 November 1892, page 4d,
13 and 16 December 1892, pages 6e,
15 May 1895, page 4h.)
Instead of being subjected to sneers for dependence on Parliament the promoters of the enterprise should now be credited with their self-reliant and manly independence of Parliament.
2 September 1895, page 6d; also see
14 and 16 March 1896, pages 4d-6d and 6b; also see
18 May 1895, page 25e,
2 August 1895, page 3a,
17 March 1900, page 7b.
A Trades Hall Art and Industrial Exhibition is reported in the Chronicle,
3 April 1897, page 18a.
"The Trades Hall and Mr C. Tucker" is in the Observer,
26 August 1899, page 55c.
An obituary of George Thomson is in the Observer,
11 June 1910, page 40b.
"Sabbath Still Sacred - Trades Hall Not to be Opened" is in the Register,
7 January 1911, page 14h.
"The People v the Trades Hall" is in the Observer,
10 February 1912, page 33a.
A cartoon titled "Well-Known Faces at Trades Hall" is in The News,
27 May 1937, page 8.