A Hidden Workforce: Homeworkers in England, 1850–1985 by Shelley Pennington

By Shelley Pennington

Homeworkers tend to be girls who paintings of their personal houses for an outdoor service provider and are paid on a one-piece foundation. The paintings is mostly unskilled and of an uneventful and repetitive nature. the industrial prestige of the homeworker has little or not anything in universal with the self reliant craftsman operating in his own residence prior to the onset of industrialization; homeworkers paintings with out supervision and feature no genuine touch with their employers or sub-contractors other than whilst accumulating or returning paintings. This quantity is an research of the industrial and social place of the predominantly woman labour strength of the homework industries from 1850 to 1985. The textual content examines adjustments that experience happened within the composition of the labour strength, the choices open to girls and the categories and geographical position of homework. The authors significantly assessment makes an attempt to enhance the location of homeworkers and touch upon the clients for homeworking sooner or later.

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Additional info for A Hidden Workforce: Homeworkers in England, 1850–1985

Sample text

Homework is a far more flexible system than factory production. Employers can readily halt production in times of depression and just as easily increase it in times of prosperity. Freedom from outside intervention is an important bonus for employers. The employer of homeworkers has always had a free hand in the exploitation of his labour force. It has worked to the employer's advantage that the relationship between employer and homeworkers is commonly a clandestine one. Employers have been able to flout the Factory and Workshop Acts and any legislation designed to protect the worker through making use of a home labour force.

Left a widow with three children, she did washing and cleaning to make ends meet: She used to have 24 sheets at a time, different people -11i2d each it was in them days. She did work hard. She was only 39 when she was left with us three. No help in them days. She used to go to work from 9 till 12 for 9d. - go out charring. She used to get up at 5 o'clock in the morning and do some work - washing. Leave off and get to work by 9 come at one. . That was hard work in them days and bad pay. Single working-class women made up a substantial section of the homework labour force, but especially in the rural districts where little or no alternative employment was available.

And I can see it now quite clearly, all the shoe uppers being machined and all run off on a machine, all joined together, not time to cut them apart. When you finished one you let the thread go straight on you see until perhaps the shuttle runs out then you've got to refill your shuttle. It was absolute slavery. And three and sixpence per gross. And they reckoned, you know, that was a good pay then. 9 It was common for whole families to do homework in the boot and shoe trade. Although sack-sewing was not a branch of the clothing industry it deserves mention here because it was after all, needlework.

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