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Working Conditions in Bradford
Woolcombers' hours arc, I believe, proverbially long. The men
in Bradford said they were sometimes forced to work most of the night. Low
as their wages are, they were recently still lower; but since the revival
of trade in the district, the wool combers have raised the amount of their
remuneration upwards of 3s. by three successive strikes. The combers have
now to compete with machinery. Each machine will do about ten times the work
of a hand labourer, but it employs several hands, two of whom get good wages.
These machines are in general, however, only used for the coarsest work, and
did not seem to excite any great apprehension among the workmen. Woolcombing
is the only branch of manufacturing industry which I have yet met with supporting
a fair proportion of adult Irish males. A number of them have been bred to
the employment at Mount Mellick, in Queen's County. The mass of the woolcombers
of Yorkshire includes natives of almost all the southern counties of England.
One and all, they were loud in their denunciations of the accommodation provided
for their labour. In the south the masters used to provide shops for the work.
Here the men had to labour in their houses, and often to sleep in the room
in which they toiled...
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