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Trolley used by waterfront workers to move cargo

Date: Pre 1988
Dimensions:
Overall: 1745 x 765 x 577 mm, 70 kg
Medium: Wood, metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Howard Smith Industries Pty Limited
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Trolley
Object No: 00001744

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    Description
    This trolley was typically used by waterfront workers to move cargo on or about the waterfront. Until the late 1960s most goods were manually loaded and unloaded by waterside workers. It was hard, dirty and back-breaking work. A ship usually carried more than one type of cargo and each had a different packing method: bags of sugar, sacks of flour, carboys of chemicals and bales of wool.
    SignificanceThis trolley is typical of methods used to move cargo, prior to the introduction of containers and forklifts.
    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.

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