A Hidden Workforce: Women Homeworkers in Britain, 1850-1985 by Shelley Pennington

By Shelley Pennington

Homeworkers are typically ladies who paintings of their personal houses for an outdoor organization and are paid on a one-piece foundation. The paintings is generally unskilled and of a monotonous and repetitive nature. the industrial prestige of the homeworker has little or not anything in universal with the self sustaining craftsman operating in his own residence sooner than the onset of industrialization; homeworkers paintings with no supervision and feature no genuine touch with their employers or sub-contractors other than while gathering or returning paintings. This quantity is an research of the industrial and social place of the predominantly girl 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 kinds and geographical position of homework. The authors significantly evaluation makes an attempt to enhance the location of homeworkers and touch upon the customers for homeworking sooner or later.

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Extra info for A Hidden Workforce: Women Homeworkers in Britain, 1850-1985 (Women in Society)

Example text

This surplus of labour encouraged manufacturers to economise in the direction of capital investment, to become labour rather than capital-intensive. Productivity could often be increased through a more systematic exploitation of labour. For example, in London where high rents, relatively high wages and high fuel costs mediated against the introduction of large-scale factory production, employers went into competition with the provinces by making use of Homework and economic change, 1850-1914 37 homeworkers.

One investigator reported that a woman had sprained both her wrists while making coal sacks for ships. Each of the coal sacks had four splices, eight holes and two patches. They had to be sewn and roped and a large 'R' worked on to them. One woman claimed that it took her two hours to complete one sack for which she received 43f4d. 1O Twenty years later Clementina Black, in her study of married women's work, discovered a fifty-year-old widow making sacks at home for 6d. and 8d. a time. In order to subsist she was forced to take in washing and also received four shillings Poor Law Relief.

In 1901 there were 16000 more females than males in Nottingham. Lace and hosiery were the two major industries and employed female labour both inside and outside the factories. Certain processes required factory conditions and a predominantly female labour force was instrumental here in keeping labour costs down. At the same time, many processes - for example, those involved in 'finishing' - could easily be given out to the large numbers of women preferring to work in their own homes, thus keeping labour costs to a minimum.

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