The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78
Sweated Boot and Shoe Work
Sweated Boot and Shoe Work.
Generally the small work is the most badly sweated. Small strap shoes—these are usually inked and closed and rubbed down, then silked linings made and fitted. Straps are usually turned in all round; in some classes of work there are three straps in one, with slits across the straps, which require extra machining two rows on vamps and buttons, stitching on straps. When finished, buttoned up, and cleaned off, the handsome sum of 10d. per dozen is paid for them, the workers to find the room to work in, also the machine, thread, paste, and ink, reducing it to 7d. or 8d. per dozen, according to the amount of thread and needles used in the work.
Buttoned and laced boots and shoes figure very largely in sweated labour; in these the linings are made, top bands machined on, quarters are inked and closed, then rubbed down, sometimes silked down seam at back; if laced boots of shoes, the facings are measured and machined on, the tops are next fitted on to the linings, usually turned in all round, but sometimes the tops are bagged, which require extra machining, they are next machined all round, tacked together, and the vamps machined on; if the work is buttoned, there is extra labour put in in the making of the button bit. This class of work is paid for at the rate of 10d. or 1s. per dozen, the workers to find all but the bare material. On these and similar classes of work the average wage is from 5s. to 9s. per week, or from ¾d. 1d., and 1¾d-per hour.
[Note added by Mrs. M. E. Macdonald.]
London prices seem to accord very closely with the above Leicester prices for doing the uppers of infants' boots and shoes. In Leicester the uppers only are done at home by the women, the sewing-on of the soles, even of the nursery boots and shoes, being done by men; but in London the latter part is also done by women home workers. It is hard work, as the soles have to be securely stitched. page 21 Prices paid amount to 9d. per dozen pairs of common patent strap shoes; is if the filling and lining is put in. For better class shoes the prices may be 1s. or 1s. 2d.; golosh boots, 1s. 3d. a dozen pairs. About 1d. must be allowed for thread per dozen, 1d. for paste, and, in addition, ink, paste, and needles are found by the home workers. Where the lasting is done at home, the lasts (according to kind, these vary from 6d. up to 4s., or 7s. for lefts and rights) and hammer (6d. up-wards) have also to be paid for. In heavier work done by men, often in their own homes, the tools necessary are more expensive. Wages for the work vary according to season, to distance from shop where the work is given out, and to quality of work. Two dozen pairs is a fair day's work; in rush times more might be done by working very long hours, but against this many slack weeks must be set off.