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Life at home - transcripts

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus, 17 February 1911

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus newspaper
National Library of Australia

MEN'S WIVES DISSATISFIED.

DANGER OF LOSING HOMES.

It is safe to say that 90 per cent. of the workmen's wives—at least of those who live at sunshine—are entirely opposed to the step taken on Wednesday night. Yesterday morning they had an opportunity to discuss the position over dividing fences. The husbands had caught the trains to Melbourne to attend the mass meeting at the Trades-hall.

"It is a boys' strike," was the way one woman summed up the position. "There are hundreds of boys who don't care whether they work or not. In fact, some of them are glad to have a holiday."

As she turned her attention to the garden a neighbour's wife joined her.

"My husband says they should have had a ballot," she said. "I know we don't want a strike. We are paying off for our house on the rent‑purchase principle. My husband works in the blacksmiths' shop. He had to come out with the others, but if the strike lasts long we'll run the risk of losing our place. After we have paid expenses we can just meet the house payments and have a little to spare."

"Are there many others in the same position?"

"A great many, I believe. At all events I know three families living close to my place, and they are all paying for their houses on the same system. When you're paying for your house on the rent‑purchase system a stoppage of wages is a serious matter. I've no objection to the union, but I think a great deal more of my home."

This is the general feeling among the men's wives. Almost without exception they say that the married men, on the whole, do not favour the strike. The wives clearly realise two phases of the present situation. One is that the strike is not for higher wages, and the other is that cessation of work for a few weeks will mean a serious loss to them, and possibly the sacrifice of their homes. There is a heavy risk and no possibility of any corresponding advantage. Therefore they are against the strike.

 

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus, 25 October 1907

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus newspaper, 25 October 1907, reporting on Justice Higgins' questioning of workers and housewives on how much it cost them to live
National Library of Australia

William Keating, blacksmith, stated that he worked for John Buncle and Sons, North Melbourne, and was paid £2/14/ a week. They did all descriptions of work. The technical operation in blacksmithing was welding. For one weld done in an engineering shop there were ten welds in an agricultural implement factory. Welding was laborious work, and injurious to the eye‑sight, as the workman was so much over the fire. Strikers in agricultural implement works were among the first order of strikers. His present family consisted of seven. He had had personal experience of housekeeping, as, not being able to provide assistance for his wife during her illness, he had to do the work of the house, and look after the children. He had prepared a list of weekly expenses, as follows:—

Rent 7/; Groceries, 13/; Meat, 8/; Milk, 3/; Bread, 3/; Vegetables 2/6; Fruit, 1/; Sewing-machine hire, 2/6; Tobacco, 1/5; Boots, 3/; Clothes, 4/; Medicines 1/; Shop insurance against accident 0/5; Trade union, 0/6; Clothing club, 1/; Firewood, 3/.

Total, £2/12/10.

 

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus, 25 October 1907

Excerpt from the Melbourne Argus newspaper, 25 October 1907, reporting on Justice Higgins' questioning of workers and housewives on how much it cost them to live
National Library of Australia

Frederick Kent, blacksmith, employed at Buncle and Sons' agricultural implement works, North Melbourne, said he had worked at various agricultural implement factories and rolling‑stock shops. More skill was required for blacksmith's work in an agricultural implement works than in general engineering establishments. He was a married man, with one child. His wife had prepared the following list of weekly expenses:—

Rent, 10/; Meat, 6/; Groceries, 7/; Vegetables and fruit, 2/9; Firewood, 2/4; Milk, 2/; Bread, 1/9; Lodge, 1/3; Clothes, 4/; Tobacco, 1/6; Newspaper, 0/6; Accident fund, 0/5; Life insurance, 0/7; Trades union, 0/6; Boots, 2/.

Total, £2/2/7.