Dictionary of Sydney

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Transcript: Mrs Enid Borowsky talks about working conditions in Liverpool's Challenge Woollen Mills

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Mrs Enid Borowsky was [media]interviewed, with her husband Carl Borowsky, in 1986 for the 'Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900–1960 ' project. Here they talk about working conditions in the Challenge Woollen Mills, a major employer in the Liverpool area.


INTERVIEWER: What was it like working in the Woollen Mills, what were the conditions like?

ENID: Oh good, quite good.

INTERVIEWER: And how about the wages?

ENID: Oh well, you were on piece work.

INTERVIEWER: What's that?

ENID: Oh well, you'd be making blankets or flannel, and it all depends on how many you did a day you'd get so much for it. The more you'd done the more money you got.

CARL: Any piece rate's an incentive to slavery, that's what I reckon.

INTERVIEWR: Was it competitive?

ENID: Oh yes. Yes, sometimes you'd have run out of the wool. They used to bring it around to you, the boys, and if you ran out and there wasn't enough, some of them would rush in to grab it, to get it.

INTERVIEWER: What section were you in?

ENID: In the weaving and the looms.

INTERVIEWER: What sort of work were women doing in the Woollen Mills, were they in particular sections or not?

ENID: Yes, there was weaving, were mainly women on the winders and from there they'd go to the warehouse, where they used to roll the blankets and all that sort of thing. I was up there at one stage when they put me on to, a chap there made a machine that they rolled the blankets. You see them in cellophane when they come out? And they made this machine that folded them and put them in cellophane and I had that job, I had to do that, but I was on and off there for years.

INTERVIEWER: When would you have started there approximately?

ENID: I might have started when I was about thirteen or fourteen.

INTERVIEWER: Did you want to work there, at that age?

ENID: Oh, I wasn't worried about it, it didn't matter to me.

CARL: As I said a while ago, you had no choice, you went where your parents told you to go, that was it. It's not like today: 'If I don't like it I'm going home.' There was none of that, your parents put you to work and that's where you stayed. [1]


Catherine Johnson (ed). Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900–1960 (Liverpool: Liverpool City Council, 1986). http://mylibrary.liverpool.nsw.gov.au/Electronicbooks/Lookingbackatliverpoolanoralhistory-1900-1960.pdf


[1] Mrs Enid Borowsky and Mr Carl Borowsky, interviewed for Looking Back at Liverpool: An Oral History of the Liverpool Region 1900–1960 project, Liverpool City Library, audio, Liverpool, 1986, http://liverpool.spydus.com/cgi-bin/spydus.exe/ENQ/OPAC/BIBENQ?BRN=56515