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Baling hook used by waterside workers

Date: 19th century
Overall: 260 x 155 x 150 mm, 0.4 kg
Medium: Metal
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Tools and equipment
Object Name: Baling hook
Object No: 00000660

User Terms

    This baling hook was typically used by all waterfront workers, or dockers, engaged in moving goods on or about the waterfront. It was used for lifting sacks and bales. 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.
    SignificanceThe baling hook was a common tool that is symbolic of wharf labourers daily work.
    HistoryThe baling hook was used by wharf labourers to carry wool bales. Four labourers lifted a single bale by putting their hooks into the four corners of the bale. There were three sizes of hook, numbered 1 to 3. The baling hook was a typical tool of trade for a wharf labourer.

    Waterfront workers or wharfies hold a strategic place in the economy because the movement of exports and imports depended on their work. During the 1930s waterfront workers 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

    Assigned title: Baling hook used by waterside workers

    Web title: Baling hook used by dockers to move cargo

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