Labour and Industry in Australia from the First Settlement in 1788 to the Establishment of the Commonwealth in 1901, Volume 2

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General Books LLC, 2009 - 368 pages
This historic book may have numerous typos and missing text. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. Not indexed. Not illustrated. 1918. Excerpt: ... VII WAGES AND CONDITIONS OF LABOUR New South Wales At the beginning of 1851 the industrial condition of New South Wales was rather better than at any time since the crisis of 1842-43, but wages were low and employment hard to obtain, except by agricultural labourers and shepherds. The proclamation of the gold discoveries in April 1851 produced an immediate change. Mechanics and workmen of all descriptions abandoned their occupations in large numbers in order to seek for gold, and in all the more important trades wages rose about one-third, the subordinate officials in the public service sharing in the general improvement. Before the discovery of gold the ordinary wage of a mechanic engaged in the building trade was 4s. 6d. a day. Within a few months after that discovery, the immigration agent made the following returns of daily wages for men employed in Sydney: Men belonging to these trades, when working in the country districts and paid by the year, received from 45 to 55 with rations and hut accommodation, as compared with 30 previously; farm labourers and shepherds were paid 18 to 24, with rations, etc., as against 16 to 19. The first rush to the Lewis Ponds and Summerhill Creek comprised all sorts and conditions, some fit, but many more unfit, for the work of gold-seeking. A short trial convinced them that the digging out of the alluvial deposits, the washing and cradling, meant arduous and continuous labour, and that only the physically robust were likely to succeed. There was from the first a constant stream of persons returning from the goldfields, and the volume of these greatly increased as the winter approached: so that, in spite of constant fresh arrivals, the population actually on the fields did not g...

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