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4-209 (Text)

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addressee author,male,The Age,un
Newspaper Article
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Plaint Text :
Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Teale, 1982
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4-209-plain.txt — 2 KB

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In a certain part of Bouverie-street, Carlton, there is a sweater's workroom. It is a small apartment, indescribably dirty and malodorous, located in the back yard of a wretched looking house, having a stable on one side and an outhouse on the other. Within this unhealthy place the man employs four or five women and his own wife and family. They have but little space to move about; they work there from 8 o'clock in the morning until 8 o'clock at night, taking their meals on the spot. Good buttonhole workers are paid 4d. per dozen for first class making. About two hours would be required to make a dozen. Assuming the women were thus engaged all day, they would earn 2s., or 12s. per week. Whatever they do, they rarely earn more than 15s. per week of 72 hours, which is about one-third of what they would make in a union factory for a week of 54 hours. The girls engaged as improvers in this den get from 3s. 6d. to 7s. per week of 72 hours. The sweater draws from £8 to £12 per week . . - from a Bourke-street tailor.
The occupants of the dens do not as a rule number more than five, so that the provisions of the (1885) Factories Act may not be infringed. Were half a dozen persons to be engaged in one apartment the sweater would render himself liable to inconvenient visits from the inspector, and would be compelled to keep his purgatorium in habitable condition. 
(The reporter then visited another place) where four or five girls are employed by a sweater. Some of them earn only 2s. 6d. per week, with a cup of tea and bread twice a day of 12 hours. The effect upon the victims of this wearing, dreary life is physically apparent. Most of them are pale, emaciated and depraved in appearance. . - In the majority of cases, through working unnatural hours by gaslight, the sweaters' employes ruin their eyes altogether. Very few of them stand it more than four years.. - The system is responsible also for a great deal of moral ruin. Most of the girls who are employed are almost destitute, having no relatives who recognize the responsibility of providing for them.
Their earnings are so small that they are often forced to resort to evil ways to save themselves from hunger. In the end they sometimes seek their living entirely on the streets.