City workers | State Library of New South Wales

City workers

According to the 2001 Australian Bureau of Statistics census, every day around 350 000 people travel into the city for a day at work. Around 55% of these workers head for their office within a financial institution, a government department or perhaps a legal or insurance company. Around 10 % work in the hospitality industry, serving tourists or their fellow workers in a restaurant, hotel or tourist operation. Shops and retail activities account for another 20 000 workers.

Anthony Hordern's bargain hall

Anthony Hordern's bargain hall, 1937, by A. Foster
Photograph, Pic. Acc. 1274 (v.2)

The retail industry in Sydney developed in the late nineteenth century. Not surprisingly this new industry provided employment for the growing number of women looking for employment. The work was safe, clean, respectable, relatively unskilled and an attractive alternative to factory work or domestic service. A large female workforce was also attractive to the large department store owners due to the perceived compliance of female workers and the comparatively low wages.
Working conditions for shop assistants were not formalised until the NSW Factory and Shop Act of 1896. The Act prohibited women under 18 and boys under 16 being worked for more than 52 hours per week. Overtime was only allowed 52 days a year and one chair had to be provided for every three female assistants.

 > View a selection of photographs depicting Sydney city workers

St Mary s Cathedral spires

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