By August, full production had resumed at the Sunshine Harvester Works. Owner HV McKay then moved to introduce piecework, paying workers according to what they produced rather than the hours they worked, pressuring them to work harder to earn the minimum wage. Piecework and other changes to factory processes, as well as the union’s continued fight to improve wages, saw the Sunshine works remain the site of industrial disputes for decades.
McKay’s opinion of the unions never changed, but the 1911 strike encouraged him to seek his workers’ loyalty through schemes improving conditions and benefits. During the 1920s he introduced pensions and retirement allowances, a sick-pay scheme and a mortuary fund.
From 1922, the Sunshine Harvester Works employed women on the factory floor, beginning in the bolt shop. The employment of women caused uproar in the Victorian Trades Hall Council, the peak body for unions, as it believed women were taking men’s jobs. It also considered factory work too dirty and strenuous for women.
In 1927 the Victorian Government undertook an inquiry into the effects of factory working conditions on women’s and children’s health. Led by Dr Kate McKay, the inquiry found that there were no health reasons to exclude women from the metal trades. It did highlight unequal rates of pay between men and women, stating that pay rates should be equal.