SUGAR & COAL The labour of women and children in the Industrial Revolution
Industrial revolution • The Industrial Revolution began in England in 1760, and continued until 1850. Huge changes occurred in manufacturing, agriculture and transport. England’s social structure changed dramatically, as people moved from small towns and villages to the bigger cities to find work. • With advances in technology came an increase in the availability of raw materials such as coal and sugar. These two commodities became the fuels of the age; coal to fuel the machines, and sugar to fuel the workers.
Women and children • Factory owners needed cheap, unskilled labour, so they profited greatly by using children and women to run the machines. By the age of six, many children were already working 14 hour days in factories. These children had no free time and earned low wages. Many got sick and died because of the toxic fumes; others were severely injured and sometimes killed.
Working conditions • Working conditions were very bad: • "We went to the mill at five in the morning. We worked until dinnertime and then to nine or ten at night; on Saturday it could be till eleven and often till twelve at night. We were sent to clean the machinery on the Sunday." • A report commissioned by the House of Commons in 1832 said that: the workers were often "abandoned from the moment that an accident occurs; their wages are stopped, no medical attendance is provided, and whatever the extent of the injury, no compensation is afforded."
Lewis hine • Lewis Wickes Hine(1874 -1940) was an American sociologist and photographer. Hine used his camera as a tool for social reform. His photographs were instrumental in changing the child labour laws in the United States, and later, England. His wife Sara often accompanied him as a witness when he interviewed children and their parents about their work.
Changes to labour laws • Largely due to Hines’ and other social reformers efforts, laws were enacted to protect the employees, (not always successfully): • 1844 Factory Act: • Minimum age for working in factories reduced to 8 years old. • 8 to 13 years old to work a maximum of six and a half hours on weekdays and only six hours on Saturday • 13 to 18 year olds to work a maximum of 12 hours a day and the same applied to women. • Safety guards had to be fitted to all machines. • Three hours education a day to be provided for children. • 1847 Fielder's Factory Act: • 10 hour day introduced for under 18's and for women. • There were factory inspectors to 'enforce' these laws but they were so poorly paid, they were easily bribed. Also many working parents were desperate for money and they lied about the ages of their children to get them work in factories and mines. So the laws may have been good in theory, they were very difficult to enforce.