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Safety net used by waterfront workers

Date: 1960s
Dimensions:
Overall: 420 x 1500 x 820 mm, 31 kg
Medium: Rope
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Patrick Operations Pty Ltd
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Safety net
Object No: 00006255

User Terms

    Description
    A huge safety net was strung from the deck of a ship to the wharf below in case a worker fell. It also saved cargoes from bumping against the side of the ship.This net was typical of many used by stevedores around Australia.
    SignificanceThis net represents the typical stevedoring gear used on all ports up until the full-scale introduction of mechanised technology in the 1960s.
    HistoryWaterfront workers hold a strategic place in the economy because the movement of exports and imports depended on their work. During the 1930s waterfront workers or wharfies received poor pay and irregular work. They were divided between two rival unions: the Waterside Workers Federation (WWF) and the Permanent and Casuals. Jim Healy, the secretary of the WWF absorbed the Permanent and Casuals after a campaign that crossed traditional enmities. The move gave the WWF a new strength and led to big gains in pay and conditions for wharfies. In 1993 the WWF joined the Seaman's Union to form the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA).

    The introduction of the container was revolutionary in making possible the totally mechanised handling seen today. This new technology however reduced wharfie numbers from 20,000 in the 1960s to less than 10,000 in 1993.
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: KNOTTED ROPE NET SLUNG BETWEEN SHIP AND WHARF TO CATCH STEVEDORES IF THEY FALL

    Web title: Safety net used by waterfront workers

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