Chapter five


And here’s a ready hand
  To ply the needful tool,
And skill’d enough, by lessons rough
  In Labour’s rugged school.

Tom Hood, “Lay of the Labourer” (1844)[1]

9,280 words

All builders’ labourers suffer from what they shrug off as the “usual bangs and scrapes, the usual little things that don’t stop you working.”[2] If injuries were no worse than cuts and bruises, this book need not have been written. To understand why the building trade has been the cause of so many deaths and so much disablement, we need to examine the minute-by-minute experiences of categories of labourers - demolishers, hod-carriers and dogmen. Demolishers and dogmen had the highest rate of fatalities. Dust exposed demolishers to respiratory diseases that killed them decades later. Hod-carriers also died in falls and survivors hobbled away with industrial rheumatics and varicose veins.[3] This chapter tracks the persistence of Dodgy Bros, and accounts for the disappearance of the hod and of riding the hook.

Terms of trade

dogman – once rode with the loads he put and off the hook of a crane
hod – a V-shaped trough, supported on a central pole, to carry bricks or mortar
laths – thin strips to support plaster or roofing
kibble – steel container filled with wet concrete
lintel – horizontal beam above a door or window

mud – slang for mortar
spotter – a second dogman
transom – horizontal beam separating a door from the window above

“Whelan the Wrecker was here” became notorious from the 1950s. Sixty years earlier, the 28-year old Jim Whelan had started in a very small way. His line of work was then known as “removal”. The trick of that trade was to knock down a building without damaging its materials in order to profit from their sale.[4]  Old bricks were worth more than labourers’ bones.

Abraham James Smith went to work for Whelan in 1909 on some of the biggest removals around Melbourne. Smith’s wage for demolishing was 11s a day, but he got as much as 15s a day in danger money when working on burnt-out walls, at 33m. above the footpath and on a footing only 20cm wide. (p. 585) Because Whelan did not pay wet money, Smith and his mates kept a floor in place on the larger jobs, so that they could go on earning despite the rain. That solution was not possible on cottages where they faced the additional risk of demolishing in slippery conditions. (p. 590) Smith detailed his methods of work, their perils and the knacks he had learnt:

It requires great knowledge and skill, and great confidence. We are standing on the top, unsupported by scaffolding. (p. 583) You have a pick and you knock off the bricks and you drop the bricks to the ground carefully so that they will not break. (p. 587)

Despite four years experience, Smith accepted that he did “not understand it properly yet.” (p. 591) The 34-year old George Vardy confirmed just how much “skill and nerve” a demolisher needed to protect himself:

Some men cannot stand on a wall. You have often times to take the bricks from under your feet and work your way down. There is no scaffold in most cases beyond the ladder you climbed up. (pp. 545-6)

Smith knew that the keenest knack was to keep a firm footing:

bumping laths is dangerous. It consists of standing on the joists and knocking the laths from below. I have known the whole fabric collapse. I have myself fallen in consequence. In bumping the laths, you stand on a joist and bump them off with a board. (p. 586)

I have known many men to be injured at this work. J. Russell at the Greyhound Hotel, St Kilda, was working on a side wall when a brick gave under his feet and let him down on to a staircase below. His arm was broken. Thomas Worrall, my companion, was killed. He was engaged in lowering joists to the ground. The joists were all resting on girders and he sat on one joist to push another out and the motion of his body moved the joist he was resting on and fell through into the cellar 25 feet below.

Block-and-tackle work, like erecting derricks to get girders down safely, needed more than nerve:

Skill is required to loosen beams and girders as you come across them, so as not to let the girders drop; they are not allowed to fall through because they bend.

I consider that there is great skill needed in lowering girders and principals in burned out buildings, because sometimes the walls have bulged and the girders are just leaning against the walls and you have to crawl down them or be lowered down on a rope to loosen them off the walls or fix a block and tackle to let the girders go. I have never been lowered in a sling but I have crawled down a rope. I assisted to lower some principals at Clivedon Mansions. We were lowering the principals in the ballroom on a 40-foot derrick and they were considered very difficult to get at. I have known principals collapse with their own weight when we have lifted them with the tackle. (p. 591)

When Justice Higgins heard that Jim Whelan had broken an arm and a leg after slipping from a parapet onto an iron fence, His Honour asked: “Was he demolishing?” Taken aback by the prospect, Smith replied, “No, he was the boss.” (p. 528)

The work became more hazardous in the dawn and at dusk. Round-the-clock operations were the most dangerous because men dozed off or were deceived by shadows from the artificial lighting.[5] (pp. 546 and 597) Yet, Branches had negotiated penalty rates for its members who did so. By 1927, Sydney demolishers were getting an extra 2/6d per hour for burnt-out and exceptional sites.[6] In South Australia, labourers had to work at night because the law forbade demolition of exterior walls between 8 am and 6 pm. At the hearings for the 1962 Award, the Federation argued that it was too dangerous to demolish after dark. A tug-of-war developed between higher rates and greater safety, with the employers wanting what the Industrial Commission called “open slather”, which it granted, reluctantly.[7] Four Sydney demolishers on night-shifts were killed that year.[8]

Demolishing concrete walls began in the late 1930s, presenting new problems. Where explosives could not be used, the wreckers borrowed the feather-and-wedge system from stone yards to crack open concrete foundations. They used a jackhammer to drill holes 75cm deep and 5cm across before inserting spikes to break the slabs apart.[9] The reliance on concrete shifted the aim of the demolisher from removal for resale to wrecking everything except the internal fittings or sandstone facing.[10] Reinforced concrete left little to take away beyond rubble from which it was rarely worth the cost of extracting the steel reinforcement. Wrecking balls swinging from cranes and front-end loaders took over from labourers wielding sledge-hammers.[11] Although the demolisher had fewer bricks to sell, those that did survive the impact had most of their mortar knocked off, which saved the cost of cleaning by hand.

The new methods and materials attracted the old stamp of contractors, foremen and labourers. Safety meant little to the big firms and the blow-ins alike. The latter took to wrecking houses because they could not afford the equipment to build them. They stayed in business by accepting oral contracts to be paid after the site had been cleared. That arrangement brought two interlocked problems: first, the men had to wait for their pay; secondly, everyone on the job rushed to see some cash, adding to the risks. Victorian organiser Harry Karslake answered a call in the 1970s from a labourer who had not been paid for knocking down a house in South Yarra:

I went to the site which was almost completely cleared except for a 45-foot chimney, with the only person on site, the contractor, about to attack said chimney with a big hammer. His mode of attack was to knock out the corner to let it fall.

He told Karslake that the labourer would get his wages after the client paid up. Karslake drove off, accepting that he could not get cash out of a brick. Later in the day, his car- radio reported serious injury to a man demolishing a chimney in South Yarra: “I didn’t like our member’s chances of getting his money.”[12]

Machinery was no guarantee of safety in demolition work since it replaced one set of hazards with another. An FEDFA member lost his life on 17 May 1988 when the eleventh floor of the MBF building in Sydney collapsed under the weight of four wrecking machines. The structure had been designed to support office furniture. The FEDFA identified four failures in supervision as contributing to the death. Although unions banned all demolition of multi-storey buildings using heavy plant, two more serious injuries followed in the next week.[13]

Wrecking buildings spawned a sub-species of contractor. At their worst, these vandals picked up crews to knock down heritage-listed properties in the dead of night, the most infamous being Brisbane’s Belle Vue Hotel in 1979. Matters had not improved much a decade later. Demolishers still did not need a licence. By underbidding for work, cowboys made it difficult for anyone else to afford safe practices. Even those who tried to do the right thing displayed “a relatively poor understanding” of what the law required. Working for public authorities altered the terms under which the demolishers operated because bids had to show the costs of conforming to OHS regulations. One demolisher admitted that his business “just went from a slap-happy company to what is required: working for government – have to.” Nonetheless, the Department of Labour and Industry inspectorate had little impact on behaviour or knowledge. Government pricing and the publicity about asbestos did not level the field for contractors. Scratch crews still remove asbestos sheeting with no protective equipment so that, in 1997, only six out of ten demolishers complied with the regulations. If fear of asbestos contributed to safety, it was because customers expected to pay more.[14]

Hod-carrier had been another name for builder’s labourer,[15] and his type featured in cartoons where the figure of “Manly Labour” staggered under “Mr Fat”.[16] The hod is a V-shaped trough supported on a central pole, used to carry bricks and mortar. Because hod-carriers also wheeled barrows, selected the bricks, mixed the mortars and erected scaffolds, “hoddie” has outlasted the hod, which machines and union bans had driven out by the early 1950s.

The hod-carriers prepared the jobs before the plasterers arrived. In assisting these tradesmen, labourers exercised a lot of discretion in managing the flow of work:

Frequently, one labourer works with two or three bricklayers and he has to do everything that is required on a brick job; that is, from digging out excavations, and concreting … he has to have a knowledge of the whole game right through.

Victorian organiser Dick Loughnan represented a plasterer’s labourer as “practically a tradesman”, which many of them became. The hod-carrier combined strength and agility with skill to become among the best paid labourers on site, usually in short supply. He cut a distinctive figure around city streets into the early twentieth century, standing “about 6 ft and broad in proportion, wearing moleskins and bowyangs.” During a 1911 visit to Sydney, Loughnan spotted no men of this “old stamp”:

The hod-carrier had come up in the world, and the builders’ labourer now draws the line. I think I was about one of the last to wear moleskins. They take overalls now and it is very hard to tell a builders’ labourer from a tradesman. (p. 509)

The hod-carriers owned their own hods, shovels, hooks and larries, which added to their status, and made it harder for employers to drag strike-breakers off the street. (p. 354)

Ex-miner and progressive member of parliament for Newtown, Henry Copeland, in 1885 took hod-carrying as proof that Adam’s Curse - “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread” - had not fallen equally on humankind, even though the Bible had not provided a “favoured-nation clause” for the rich. Copeland feared that more labour-saving inventions would drive up the numbers of unemployed until workers organised themselves to turn profits into greater leisure for all. Meanwhile, treating men like horses or machines meant that any dignity in their labour came from the determination of labourers to care for their dependents.[17]

Thirty years later, capital’s control of steam-cranes and over the economy was squeezing hod-carriers to chase equally back-breaking but less well-paid casual jobs. Those pressures had also convinced labourers in five States to combine to win a 20 per cent loading for “lost time” and to impose limits on the hod-carriers’ loads. The Builders’ Labourers’ News saw that labourers were asserting dignity through their Federation which had brought “substantial benefits, morally and materially.”[18] Notwithstanding those victories, neither invention nor agitation had abolished the difference between those who worked for their living and those who lived well without needing to work. An English verse mocked an employer who moaned about having to carry his own bricks up a scaffold during a strike:

He’s a damn sight nearer God
When he’s carrying up the hod
Than he’ll be when he’s planted
In a box beneath the sod.[19]

During the 1906-07 Melbourne lock-out, Bricklayers’ Secretary Martin Hannah addressed his fellow building workers. When his mention of Anglican Archbishop Clarke brought “Boohoos”, Hannah explained: “In speaking last Sunday at St Paul’s Cathedral on the prosperity of the country”, His Grace had “said he was sorry to see that the workers were discontented.” From the speakers’ platform, a Labor Senator interposed: “He’s all right.” Hannah was not put off: “Of course he’s all right, as is his class. I am told Archbishop Clarke puts in about four hours a day.” A voice from the crowd underscored Hannah’s evaluation of Clarke and his kind: “He does not carry the hod.”[20]

Someone who had carried the hod was the Edinburgh-born labour leader, James Connolly. After the Dublin Uprising of Easter 1916, the British strapped his cripped body to chair in order to shoot him. An obituary in the Builders’ Labourers’ News lamented that Connolly had gone “down in an heroically, foolhardy skirmish. But he wrote one book [Labour in Irish History] which proves that a hod-carrier can be a scholar. His name stands as an eternal rebuke to all of us who are blatant and loud rather than serious and true.”[21]

Australian hod-carriers had been the core of the unions established by the labourers who assisted tradesmen. To the broader-based Federation from 1910, the hodmen brought two concerns: first, recognition for their abilities in mixing, scaffolding and brick-work; and, secondly, limits on the loads in hods and barrows, and on the heights they had to climb, with a bonus for going aloft. They linked these demands to safety and to burn-out. These eight points provide a floor plan for examining how the hod-carrier earned his bread at the cost of his health and safety:

A. skills at 1) mixing, 2) brick-work and at 3) scaffolding;
B. controls on 4) weights in hods and barrows, and 5) heights;
C. labour time in the drive for 6) speed, with its 7) resultant burn-out and 8) hod-carrying as a dying art by the early 1950s.

A. Skills
1. Glorious mud: To mix the mortars (mud), hod-carriers used a triangular hoe-shaped tool with two or three holes, known as a larrie. If kept up for more than an hour or two, that work was about the most back-breaking on a building site. In addition to stamina, a hod-carrier assisting plasterers needed experience with the “different kinds of material”, for the knack was in

gauging the different stuff and a knowledge of the different kinds of lime and cement. If he is given Head’s lime and he is told to run out setting stuff and he went to the shed and found it was fresh Head’s lime he would put more buckets of water and wash-sand than for others.

The hod-carriers mixed hair into certain mortars to make the plaster more adhesive. He also had to judge the dampness of the atmosphere to decide how much cement to use. He bore responsibility for keeping the mortar up to the bricklayers or plasterers. The foreman left preparing (“knocking up”) material to the labourer who estimated the quantities needed each day. If he “knocked up” too soon the mortar was wasted: if he waited too long, the plasterers stood idle. Both mistakes cost money. (pp. 272-3)

2. Bricks: In learning which class of brick to select for each stage of construction, the hod-carrier had to tell “headers” from “stretchers” and “returns”. He also had to match bricks of the same colour and the different kinds of fancy ones. For instance, he had to recognise those with a good texture [arras]. (pp. 216 and 313)

3. scaffolding: Shoddy scaffolding endangered all building workers, but none more so than hod-carriers wheeling barrows and turning corners along planks as narrow as 25cm.:

Very often you have to run up 5 or 6 feet. In one case I know of lately, the men were wheeling to the top of the first floor from the ground. They went on three different angles – backwards then forward on the incline and again backwards. (p. 178)

As a hod-carrier ducked through doorways and under scaffolds, he could not “see over the top to the wheel of the barrow” to where he was headed; the danger increased with the number of bricks which “renders them top heavy.” Sometime Federal Secretary Henry Hannah recalled one of those brutes:

The bricks were piled so high I could not see where I was going. There was a run-up onto the plank – a jump-up as they call it ... I missed the jump-up and hit the edge of the plank, and the bricks all broke off and went below.

Hannah shouted “look out below”, allowing the contractor to jump out of the way before the load “settled him”. (p. 180) In delivering a load in a hod, the labourer had

to twist and turn in and out of some very awkward places, through windows perhaps 5 feet 6 inches in height. An ordinary man is that height. He has also the hod on his back and with the continual stooping to miss bumping the hod against the top of the window, by 5 o’clock a man knows what he has been doing.

The hod-carriers, therefore, determined to impose limits on the weight of hods and barrows, and on the height to which they were lugged.

B. Controls
4. Weight: In preparing the union’s case, Melbourne officials had timed some hod-carriers who averaged about 90 seconds to lift their loads about 4.5m. Going up and down a 6m. ladder in two minutes, they thus did 240 turns across an 8-hour day. Loughnan estimated that, in a day, he had carried 2,300 bricks and the mortar to lay them. A dry brick weighed 4kg., and a wet one half-a-kilo more. If the hod-carrier carried only 12 bricks in each load, he bore 10,000 kg. each day. The maximum was 18 bricks. Men were lifting more than their own weight. When delivering mortar, they carried as much as 50 kg. in addition to their hods. A plasterers’ mate had reported in 1890 that the piece-rates imposed by sub-contractors drove hod-carriers to carry nine tons each day over a distance of five kilometres, not counting the climbs.[22]

By 1913, the Federation had “a settled policy regarding the number of bricks in the hod with the exception of what should be carried over the second storey ceiling joist, that is, about 27 or 28 feet.” (8m) (p. 302) Branch Executives fined men for going outside the newest custom of their trade. The 1921 Award stipulated only 10 bricks in the hod above 4.5m., but still allowed 12 on the flat.[23] Breaches were more common around the countryside, as shown in 1926 when a Victorian organiser stopped Albury labourers from carrying 16 bricks.[24]

Half a brick
“Take a brick, ladies and gentlemen, weighing, let us say, about four pounds.”

The evening’s lecture to the Sydney Socialist League in 1890 was at about half time when the speaker, and future Labor Premier of New South Wales, William Holman, issued his invitation. In doing so, he had advanced to the edge of the platform, like a conjurer about to perform his chef d’oeuvre.

He had already cautioned his listeners: “I come to the focal point of my discourse – quantitative changes, my friends, make qualitative differences.” The audience shivered with delight. This was indeed an intellectual treat and no blooming error. The lecturer eyed them benevolently; they well deserved a short spell.

Among their number was the Secretary of the Labourers’ Union, Arthur Gordon, a simple, forthright soul, who had so far through the lecture sat unmoved. When Holman had said “Take a brick, ladies and gentlemen weighing, let us say, four pounds”, Arthur sat bolt upright: here was something he understood.

“Cripes,” he confided to his neighbour, “That’s the blooming brick I’ve been looking for all me life.”

From that time, Arthur had no time for Holman. Arthur had a severely practical mind and considerable experience of bricks. He believed in the New Order; but a man who talked of a four-pound brick to one who had climbed up ladders for donkey’s years with a hod full of bricks weighing seven to ten pounds obviously did not understand the problems of the worker.[25]

4a Barrows: Early unions in Victoria had set a maximum of 45 bricks in a barrow. [26] (177) From 1910, the Federation urged a limit of 40, which weighed in at 160kg., not counting the barrow and any water in the bricks. With barrows made of hard timbers or heavy iron,  a hod-carrier pushed 200kg. Labourers learned how to stack 57 bricks in a barrow. (180) They then pushed a net load of 230 kg. The hod-carrier had to get a run-on to carry him up inclined planks: “You could put over 100 bricks on. Some time back, we were averaging 80 bricks, and that would mean that you would have frequently on 100.” (362-3) Federal President Millard recalled rises so steep that he had to load his barrow with fewer than 40. In agreeing to a limit of 40 bricks, Justice Higgins thought it “an extraordinary survival of barbarism that men should have to wheel these things.” (178-9)

The employers objected to any and all limitations and opposed the Award’s stipulating the number or the weight of bricks. To their minds, if a man “overloaded himself he would not be able to get about his work so quickly.” (363) This excuse assumed that overloading was the worker’s idea, which was likely only on piece rates. Higgins had to press the employers to be “humane” before they accepted the principle of maximum loads. The 1921 Federal Award lightened the weight to be wheeled up ramps. Henceforth, only 36 bricks were allowed in a barrow pushed above 4.5m., although the quantity on the flat remained at 40. Rubber wheels made the work easier in the late 1940s, while light steels had lessened the weight before motorised barrows went on sale in the 1980s.[27]

5. Heights: Hod-carriers performed on four levels. The easiest was shifting stuff on the ground, despite its rarely being even. The next stage went higher but did not involve climbing:

To a height of 10 feet you could put a run-up 5 feet and use what is termed a shoulder-tip. You could run up the 5 feet and from that 5 feet you are above the line and you could tip it to the scaffold. You do not require any ladder work there in most instances. (p. 324)

The strains increased once the carrying went higher than could be reached on an inclined plank. The 1907 Scaffolding Act in South Australia reduced the strain by requiring the rungs to be no more than 23cm. apart.[28]

In the main, the men had to lift bricks and mortar only to the second floor. Hannah testified that most refused to climb over 6m: “they will leave a job before carrying above the first ladder. They would not carry up two ladders.” (p. 135) Only once had he carried above 6m., for which he had got an extra 6d a day. Even on single-storey jobs, Hannah always got two short ladders installed to have a break on the way up:

But when it comes to 20 feet, a man is more exhausted by the carrying. The ladder is almost dead straight, and it is exceedingly heavy and tiring on a man to continually carry that. (p. 324)

In two-storey work, there were separate ladders from storey to storey. One labourer carried to the next man in a relay. However, a South Australian bricklayer in 1907 spoke of as many as six hodmen following each other up a 16m. ladder.[29]

To balance a hod while going up a ladder required weeks of practice. In order to have both hands free for climbing, the labourer rested the hod on his shoulder:

That hod looks simple enough but it is as complicated a piece of mechanism as anyone could get hold of … you travel the rungs of the ladder right hand to left foot. That you could not pick up in a fortnight. By runging left hand and right foot you equalise the weight and it is solid in the centre. You give the hod a slight rock.

To steady their loads, beginners inclined their heads to one side, which affected their ability to chew for about three weeks. (p. 315) After a few years of supporting the weight on one side, the hod-carriers’ shoulders were out of kilter.

5a. height money: In the 1913 Log, the Federation claimed a higher rate for lifting the hod above 6m. Higgins had two objections. He always refused to place “an employee in unhealthy or dangerous positions” in exchange for extra money. Parliament had the responsibility for eradicating “actual cruelty” in workplaces.[30] The labourers agreed, but were hoping that a bonus for carrying above 6m. might wean the Masters off this particular piece of “barbarism”. (p. 542)

Higgins’s second point related to the structure of Awards. In 1907, he had set a basic wage to meet the needs of the worker and his family. Any extras had to be for skill or productivity. A labourer did not add more value by climbing 6m. than he did when he climbed to 5.5m.: “The man who carried to 20 feet had no higher qualities than the man who carried to only 19 feet. The longer the ladder, the longer time the hod-carrier takes.” In response, labourers testified that the strain from carrying up a ladder was more than on the flat:

On the ground carrying on the level, you have only one lift with your hod. You carry that and tip your hod. Take an ordinary 12-foot ladder and start with the rungs of the ladder nine inches apart, which is your average. There are sixteen distinct lifts when you are going up and you are pulling yourself up. There is as much difference in carrying on the ground and carrying up a ladder as there is between chalk and cheese. (p. 325)

Higgins was not convinced: “It is all in a day’s work, isn’t it? I can understand the strain being greater the higher you carry a thing; but it is in the hours of work. You are paid by time.” (p. 542) The bourgeois judge showed a keener grasp of the mechanism of exploitation through the disciplining of labour time than did its victims. Subsequent tribunals provided for extra rates for carrying above 3.5 metres.[31]

C. Labour time
6. Speed: When employers could not to make labourers deliver more in each load, they drove them to go faster. (pp. 177-8 and 464-5) Labourers’ Union secretary Cox had pointed out in 1890 that offers of 6d a day extra were frequently made to men to “carry more bricks so as to run out the men who followed him.”[32] The worst situation came where when the sub-contractor was on piece work and his labourer on day rates:

There is no case in my experience where men paid by the day do as much as where they work by time for piece work. Supposing you had a blacksmith paid by the piece and striker paid by the time – that is the best speeding up that I know of in the world.

Where the bricklayer worked for piece rates he told the labourer: “”Now I want the bricks carried very quickly and I will give you 6d a day extras.” (p. 136)

These methods for maximising surplus value neglected the micro-seconds of labour time being lost in the labourers’ movements. Between 1909 and 1912, the masters of time-and-motion study, Frank B. Gilbreth and F. W. Taylor, published manuals on bricklaying and concrete respectively.[33] Gilbreth taught bricklayers “to spread mortar for 20 bricks in 5 seconds.” To reach that speed, he devised a special trowel to hasten the application of mortar and a “packet scaffold” to keep up the flow of bricks. He complained that tradesman trained apprentices to go after quality in laying each brick. As a result, the novice developed hand-and-arm motions that prevented his picking up speed. Instead, Gilbreth started newcomers on a section of wall where appearance did not matter. Quality could follow speed, but never the other way around. Although, by 1913, stop-watches were reminding Australian engineers of “the whip of owners or taskmasters,”[34] few supervisors here applied “scientific management”, even to factory assembly lines for a further 40 years.[35] Apart from adopting Gant Charts to map progress, building operators lagged another 20 years behind.[36] More common was Bert Twomey’s boss who discouraged the calls of nature by putting the lavatory alongside his store-shed and making his men carry back a bag of cement after each visit.[37]

7. Exhaustion
Even more than most builders’ labourers, hod-carriers had to pace themselves in order to keep earning. When Hannah worked on the University in 1904, he and four other hod-carriers “all had to knock off one afternoon because we were exhausted.” They returned the next day. (p. 210) Hannah knew what it meant to lump 50kg above 6m. He explained that when a hod-carrier

has to continually carry over the height of 20ft, he is very liable to break down. I have seen a man’s  thumping when he has reached the top of a ladder – that is on a hot day. It takes all the man knows to get through the day when he is doing that. In fact, if a man is following that very high work for any length of time, at the expiration of the job he has to take a spell for a few days.(pp.133-4)

After two or three weeks of carrying materials over 6m, Hannah went onto light duties for the rest of the week.

Speaking from experience, Loughnan confirmed that hod-carriers who went up ladders needed more than a night’s rest to feel as fit as they had on the first morning:

A man could carry the hod on the ground and when he went home he could go out and enjoy a night’s amusement. If he is carrying the hod 20 feet high, he has got a different feeling altogether. He is tired out. In the morning when I got up, I have been as sore as when I went to bed. (p. 324)

Hannah had to remind Justice Higgins that “the further you carry it the heavier it gets”, even on the flat. Loughnan clinched his case for limits on heights and on weights with a depiction of burn-out:

I reckon that a man working on the ground would last till he is 55 or 60 but a man that is traveling the ladder would be “done” at 50. There are very few hod-carriers that I know of 50 years of age who are following up the occupation and able to hold their own as builders’ labourers carrying up a height. (p. 325)

If he has a bit of grey about him, he is not wanted on the voyage, as a rule, unless he is well known. In fact, many hod-carriers dye their hair, not through vanity. It is to make themselves look younger in the employers’ eyes. (p. 306)

Men are physical wrecks when they should be in the prime of life. In fact, we have the Old Buffers’ Race of 45-year olds among hod-carriers. They consider a man of 45 is entitled to run in the Old Buffers’ Race at our Picnic. Those are the hod-carriers. The bricklayers are of course older. (p. 304)

Those contestants were the lucky ones. By the age of 45, many a hod-carrier was past running at any speed. Instead, he had been classified as slow, fit only to be a nipper or to clean bricks. Loughnan concluded that “when a man has finished hod-carrying it means bottle-gathering or Benevolent Asylum. We have two or three there now.” (pp. 304-6)

The union opposed junior or apprentice rates because the so-called improvers got the easier jobs, such as cleaning bricks. That arrangement deprived the hod-carriers of a spot of rest on lighter duties. (p. 297) Hannah had seen some lads start carrying the hod when they were only18 or 19, but the majority had turned 20. He told Higgins that he did “not think any humane man would send his boy to learn hod-carrying because it is too strenuous.” (p. 261) Nonetheless, in 1926, an organiser found “a boy in knickerbockers wheeling” bricks and being paid at less than half the adult rate.[38]

8. Dying art: Even as the Federation applied for limits and bonuses in 1913, carrying the hod up ladders was disappearing. Hoists, electric lifts or horses pulled loads on the taller buildings. In those cases, labourers had to wheel the bricks or mortar only to and from those machines. Barrow loads of bricks were also raised by means of a chain, which was dangerous when overloaded. (p. 369) The arrival of mechanisation varied between cities. Sydney buildings had less stucco on the outside than Melbourne’s and therefore had less call for plaster, but Sydney used bricks more often and so its builders installed more lifts for them from the 1890s.[39] (p. 507)

Hod-carrying made a come-back when labour became cheap during the 1930s depression and the weakening of the ABLF allowed contractors to ignore the Award. By 1931, some Melbourne hoddies were putting in 12-hour days, carrying as many as 18 bricks on piece rates.[40] A Sydney hod-carrier posed for the Sun in 1937 with a load of 18.[41] Later that year, the Newcastle Secretary claimed that hod-carrying was “a lost art” in his State,[42] yet its remnant retained the knack of thumping a shop steward who tried to enforce the Award.[43] In May 1939, Bro. Wills was put off at the Rose Bay seaplane base because he refused to carry 14 bricks, two over the limit. The men who carried 16 to 18 bricks were not in the union. When he complained that the new Branch Secretary, King, had failed to pursue the matter, the Executive told Wills to carry as many bricks as everyone else.[44] The conflict between King and Wills saw “perjury committed”, according to the incoming NSW President Downey, who lamented that lifting 14-16 bricks was the custom around the suburbs: “Cottage work is our nightmare.”[45] To enforce the 12-brick rule, the Award would have to be amended. Its phrasing that men were “not required” to carry more than 12 had left the onus of proof with the union, which wanted the wording changed to “not allowed” to go above that limit, which made the employer responsible.[46]

When the Victorian Branch banned the hod in 1945, labourers on smaller jobs complained that their work had become more tiring because they had to carry more materials in their bare arms. On top of that, they lost penalty rates by being reclassified to the bottom rung as totally unskilled. The Executive split 6 to 3 to allow some hod-carrying, although Branch policy was still to stamp out the practice. Organisers investigated hod-carriers spotted around Melbourne suburbs in 1946, and in Sydney a year later.[47] In March 1952, the NSW BL Journal featured a Special Notice: “Hods Are Banned. Report any sightings to the union office.” The 1962 Award made no mention of the hod. Twenty years later, it reappeared on the south face of the Rialto project in a 9x27m. mural - “From the hod to the Favco” - celebrating the struggle by builders’ labourers against the employers’ use of technological change to maximise profits.[48]

Machines and militancy had buried the identification of builders’ labourer with hod-carrier. Cost-cutting called forth technologies which repositioned the tasks still dependent on hands, eyes and backs. The knacks of preparing the “mud” were disappearing by early in the 1960s as pumps and sprays applied mortar delivered from off-site plants.[49] By then, brick-making had been automated, and most often standardised;[50] the bricks arrived on pallets, moved about by motorised fork-lifts before escalators raised them to the workface.[51] Four labourers at Port Kembla became so accustomed to this ease of delivery that they were sacked for refusing to go between the shafts of a barrow when the forklift was on other duties.[52]  Reducing the physical effort did not remove the danger as was shown when a Wollongong labourer died after falling nearly four metres while wheeling from a hoist.[53]

As much as machines have contributed to the industrialisation of building sites, it is still not possible to prefabricate a brick wall. [54]  One alternative was to reduce the handling costs by replacing clay bricks with larger concrete ones, such the hollow types from Monier and Terrablock. In 1962, Queensland won a penalty rate for handling Besser bricks. When the cost-cutters switched to 27kg. slabs, brickies and their labourers refused to handle them without mechanical aids.[55] The less the hod-carriers humped and wheeled, the more materials dogmen delivered on cranes.[56]


A dogman needed to be part scaffolder, part rigger, part storeman-and-packer, and part-time dare-devil, according to Victorian organiser Loughnan:

The man who puts a sling round the heavy weights on a steam crane is commonly known as a dogman. He is a gear-hand too. A gear-hand does not put up scaffolding. He erects derricks, sheer legs, cat heads, hoists girders or columns, and must have a knowledge of the lifting capacity of a rope to say what strain it will stand. He must also be well up in splicing and knotting, using perhaps a dozen different kinds of knots in a day.

Gear-hands shared some tasks with the tackle hands because they had to “erect the girder, attach the gear, and erect columns, hoist up floor joists, and timber required, and get girders into position.” (p. 316) With the lifting apparatus in place, the dogman turned to the tasks that made him notorious. After securing his load to a crane, he “rode the hook” to the level where the material was needed, signaling to the crane driver to bring the load to rest, before helping to unload. The dogman then rode down again. Sometimes, the reverse trip would be empty. At times, he brought down debris or equipment. Other workers rode the hook to reach their workplaces, mostly in a box-car for the crane to lift. That ride spared them the hazards from scrambling up ladders, scaffolds, or incomplete stairwells, and saved on paid labour-time for their employer.

Although riding the hook was dangerous, and called for spurts of hard work, it was easier physically on a weekly basis than most labouring jobs. Foremen kept navvies and hoddies hard at it every minute of the shift. A dogman got a break while sailing aloft. His daring attracted a few shillings more, although not recognised as a skill by the Courts.[57] For as long as rates of basic pay were frugal, labourers were tempted to swap cash for risk.

“The Human Plummet” was how the Sydney Morning Herald headlined its 1904 column about the dogman, Mr Charles Neilson. Using skills acquired as a sailor, Neilson thrilled thousands each day in Martin Place as he soared on stones weighing eight tons. Despite ten years experience, he could never predict the force or direction of the winds once the crane carried him aloft:

When it’s fairly calm on solid ground it’s occasionally blowing hard enough to tear your whiskers off out on the end of the cable. I’ve got to hang on, I promise you. But the stone’s always well-balanced, and even if it does start to rise up at one end, I can always throw my weight over and straighten it up.

We had a lively experience the other day. The belt’s fixed up with a ball-bearing swivel, so that however much the cable twists, the stone’ll always stay the same way. But, somehow, the ball-bearings got jammed, and the two of us began to waltz around like billyoh. Everything went sort of whizzy and the whole of Sydney looked like a worn-out biograph. The Post Office tower went past us twenty times a second, and the Harbour was running all over the place. We just hung on all we knew until she steadied down, and it wasn’t too soon, I tell you.

Neilson’s peril peaked each morning before the sideshow began. To lubricate the crane, he extended its arm horizontally, and crawled to its end carrying an oilcan, holding himself in place by gripping his legs around the metal frame.[58]

Going, going …
Cranes endangered passers-by and on-site workers because their inspection was inadequate and their drivers unlicensed. The 1931 death of yet another Melbourne dogman provoked the coroner to call for a tightening of supervision of the gear and a prohibition on “riding on hoists or cables”.[59] In 1936, the deaths of several Sydney dogmen caused the Carpenters’ Society to ask the NSW government to ban riding the hook.[60] The employers objected that they could not afford to employ a second man, one to load and one to unload.[61] The dogmen defended their practices as the safest arrangement for other workers and for the public. The Federation backed their claims. Instead of a ban, the union called for regular inspections of the gear. From 33 years of experience, Brother Smythe complained that the inspectors were never to be seen. He told the Court that because many dogmen started with no training; their lack of preparation added to the risks.[62] The Victorian dogmen had been calling for certification of their skill.[63] Late in 1938, the NSW Department of Labour banned riding with the load. One dogman lamented the passing of a line of work that he had followed for 15 years. “You’re only allowed one mistake in this game,” he acknowledged. Another said: “Only dogmen’s wives worry.” On his last day on the hook, he presented his wife with a bunch of roses because she would not now be buying them for his funeral.[64]

Three months later, the dogmen were back. The Minister had given way to pressure from the MBA, the ABLF, the FEDFA and the Chief Inspector of Factories for a three-part compromise. Henceforth, dogmen were to hold certificates of competency; scaffolders had to be licensed; and slings marked with their carrying capacity. To deserve his ticket, a dogman had to work with an experienced man for six months and then pass a theory examination and on-site tests with the Department of Labour and Industry.[65]

There the question rested until 1958 when the Victorian Branch limited the circumstances in which a dogman could ride a hook; two years on, a run of incidents led the Union to ban the practice for three months.[66] At the 1962 Federal Award, the union argued that dogmen were as valuable as riggers, but the employers replied that the former’s tasks were repetitive and merited no increase. The Commission disagreed, although it admitted to some difficulty in justifying its decision to put a dogman on the same margin as a rigger. The dogman’s responsibility for the safety of fellow workers and the public was great, and was increasing as buildings went higher. Commissioner Webb decided that the ability to ride the hook was not a skill because it could not be acquired, before stressing that the extra money was not to compensate for “any danger element”.[67] Nothing could eliminate that danger for as long as men rode the hook. In 1966, NSW Secretary Mick McNamara supported a ban. In 1970, Mundey alleged that 30 NSW dogmen had fallen to their deaths during the 1960s.[68]

To ban riding the hook involved more than overcoming yet another instance of employers’ and governments’ dragging the chain on safety. The union saw the employment of two dogmen for each crane as a way of increasing the portion of labourers in the top classification. As construction methods became more complicated, the capitalists were divided over whether they could afford to employ a second dogmen on each crane, one at each end. The founder of Mirvac, Henry Pollack, put the standard line that riding the hook “saved time as the dogman could land where the load was, then ride with it and unload it at the other end.”[69]

All parties agreed that a dogman could make or break a job.[70] Allied with the crane drivers, the dogmen were in the position to impose delays. Equally, cooperation between the dogmen, crane drivers and site managers cut the unproductive time of all the other workers, including the professionals. The dogman on the ground prepared a load while the previous one was being unloaded several storeys up. By bringing productive labour-time closer to paid labour-time, a second dogman limited the time costs – providing that the managers had the appropriate materials ready to be lifted and workers were in place to start adding values. Those conditions depended on site planning. The supervisors’ failure to maintain a continuous flow of labour and materials threw out the schedules of sub-contractors who had to wait their turn. Hence, it became in the employers’ interest to employ two dogmen but only if that arrangement speeded up the flow of materials and the application of labour power.

Militancy around the sites took the decision away from the accountants. The union insisted on two dogmen with control over their own safety. Even after the MBA accepted “job practice” as set by the union, some dogmen refused to do other jobs at their usual rates of pay if there were no need for a dogman. Mundey worried about a similar specialisation among steel-fixers and concreters.[71] A few dogmen went to the extreme of not working on a crane other than their usual one. The MBA protested that on sites with multiple cranes, dogmen refused transfers between them: “They turn around and say, ‘We will not operate any of the cranes’, and we have three cranes sitting on some jobs and some days they do not operate at all.”[72] At times, the refusal resulted from a squabble between a dogman and a crane driver, in which dogmen threw stones into the cabins and drivers left dogmen dangling.[73]

In NSW, a dogmen’s committee pressed for more pay and to reduce the death-rate by giving the workers control over the operations:

The Builders (who do not have to ride loads) demand work be performed in adverse conditions. The Dogmen (who carry Government Certificates of Competency) are the only practical people who should decide whether work can be carried out in bad conditions.[74]

This solution was double-edged. Part of the problem was that a few young blokes wanted to ride the hook to show off. Giving power to that element added to the danger. The dogman’s proposal emphasised extra pay more than to worker control, as they expected higher margins for their daring:

We have to contend with heights, awkward loads, high winds (no regulations on this), and the pressure of anything up to 20 contractors trying to keep pace with their schedules. We are not given enough time to inspect gear, nor, in some cases, is some gear safe to work with. Whilst lifting anything up to 10 tons above the city streets, we must look after our workmates, the people below, get material to its designated spot, and the whole time one false move would result in a fatal fall.[75]

The NSW dogmen wanted an increase from $1.54 to $1.88 per hour. They did not mention a ban on riding the hook.

Someone had to decide whether it was safe to lift materials. There were no regulations to decide when the wind was safe around 60-storey buildings, such as the AMP at the Quay.[76] Joe Owens, who had been a dogman, insisted on worker control:

Modern cranes traveled at 400 feet a minute, compared with a speed of 70 feet a minute reached by the older-type. August is the worst month. The dogmen and the crane drivers decide between them when it’s safe to work.[77]

Whistles went out when buildings got higher and cranes became noisier. Dogmen took to signalling with tugs on a rope:

One pull – stop
Two short pulls – lift
Three short pulls - jib up
Four short pulls - jib down
One long one short  -  slew left
One long, two short pulls   - slew right

In high winds, the pull-rope could get tangled with the load, thereby depriving the dogman of his line of communication with the crane driver. In June 1973, dogmen for Mainline at AMP banned riding hooks until a communication system was 100% effective. Within a week, they had walkie-talkie helmets with signals able to penetrate 30cm of concrete, while the unit in the cabin was amplified to cut through the noise from the crane’s motor.[78]

Sydney dogmen expected to be issued with sandshoes in May 1972. The employers did not see footwear for dogmen as a safety issue. With two dogmen suffering foot injuries, the union replied that any shoes needed re-inforced toe-caps. To pressure employers, the dogmen refused to climb jibs for greasing. Concrete Constructions offered new sandshoes or $4 for the dogmen to buy their own footwear. They also claimed overalls (to be dry-cleaned), windcheaters and sun-glasses. A few years later, they specified Raybans. 

A Sydney reporter in 1974 interviewed dogmen with opposing attitudes towards safety. One was a mug lair, nicknamed “Hero”, who had been on the job for two years, since he was 22. He had fallen two floors, but didn’t think that the surgery had spoilt his looks. At the other end of the scale was a 32-year old who had left his family’s farm when he was 23 to go steel-fixing. From there, he became a rigger and then a dogman:

It’s a hell of a life. It’s just blood money. Not many dogmen lose their nerve. They don’t freeze. It’s a job you can’t pause in. Sometimes it takes three or four men to prize them loose, and get them down. If they don’t go straight up again, generally they never go back.[79]

A 42-year old was one of the oldest dogmen in Sydney, as he acknowledged: “Most of them don’t last this long.”[80] Some walked off after their first ride. Kevin Cook arrived in Sydney from Tumut because his mate, Roy Bishop, had got him “a fantastic job”. Cook had never been closer to a dogman than to drive below one on a building site:

Well, I went up on a – you’re not supposed to do it – on a concrete kibble. And when I landed up at the top, you could see my fingerprints on the steel kibble. That’s how much I thought about it. And I was heading down the stairs goin’ home. But they talked me into staying. I didn’t mind the heights so much once I got used to riding the loads. And that was pretty dangerous at the time.[81]

Before becoming organisers, Cook and Bishop used their positions as dogmen to advance union policies by holding up jobs.

After 1974, riding the hook was almost eliminated around Sydney and with it went the pinnacle for ogling girls. A tradesman rubbed the dogmen’s nose into their loss by sticking this doggerel on the door of their shed:

I deplore
It’s a bore
Cannot ride the hook no more
Will the sheilas ignore
Me for evermore?[82]

In South Australia, the ABLF State Secretary, Ron Owens, got his dogmen members to give up riding the hook by taking them to the morgue to view a mate who had fallen. His head had ballooned to double its size in life.[83] The ban could not preserve dogmen from the carelessness of employers such as Baulderstone Hornibrook which was fined $92,500 over the killing-no-murder death of Lee Alexander at Glenelg on 10 April 2002. The arms of two tower-cranes collided, spilling concrete bricks onto Alexander. The corporation had forgotten to register one of its cranes and had failed to train their operators.[84]

Public interest in the daring of dogmen and demolishers had increased with the wrecking and rebuilding of inner cities from the late 1950s, although Whelan’s crews had long attracted regulars who spent their Saturday afternoons in deckchairs on the footpaths opposite.[85] This fascination with the labourers’ risk-taking inspired the winning entry to the Sydney Morning Herald’s 1956 poetry competition, “The Dogman”, by Adelaide solicitor Robert Clark.[86] Soaring above “the faces in the street”, the dogman offered the genteel lawyer, and his readers, the fantasy of escaping from the estrangement of office work that, a few months earlier, Melbourne artist John Brack had caricatured in “Five o’clock Collins Street”. In contrast to the dead eyes of the homeward-trudging pedestrians on Brack’s canvas, the dogman in Clark’s verse lifted the spirit of the on-lookers along with his load:

Spent eyes revive and spill delight.
Dead hearts resolve to live again.
Once more a man upon a height
Recalls their dignity to men.[87]

This apotheosis of the dogman conflicted with public opinion which put labourers on the lowest tier of occupational status.[88] The dogmen’s daring and control over the entire operation gave them their chance to rise above those sneers, above the navvies and above tradesmen with their pride of craft. As one doggie remarked in 1974, “it’s as near as possible to being your own boss.”[89]

The physical distance between the aerial dogman and the earthbound poet preserved the social space between the classes, a response common even among radical writers.[90] Henry Lawson in 1888 had observed “Faces in the street … flowing past my window”, not from within the throng; he increased that distance by representing “the army that was marching down the street” as a vision, part dream and part nightmare, sent by “God Almighty”.[91] By celebrating a solitary worker high above the street, Clark’s poem posed no challenge to his class. Instead, Clark saw in the dogman

… a bird, a song,
A shaft of light, a glowing sun,
A god who ploughs above the throng,
A man reflecting all in one.[92]

Marx had scorned chatter about “proletarians as gods. Rather the contrary … the proletariat as proletariat, [is] that misery conscious of its spiritual and physical misery, that dehumanisation conscious of its dehumanisation and therefore self-abolishing” as it is driven by the il-logic of capital’s expansion “to revolt against that inhumanity.”[93] Isolated displays of human capacities will never reclaim dignity for labour. That earthy aspiration must be realised through mass action: “It’s a thousand like Ned Kelly who’ll hoist the flag of stars”.[94]

[1] Thomas Hood, Selected Poems, Harvard University Press, Cambridge , Mass. , 1970, p. 231.

[2] Quoted Claire Mayhew, “Demolishers: auditing & OHS performance”, Journal of Occupational Health & Safety, ANZ (JOH&S ANZ), 15 (5), October 1999, p. 445.

[3] Transcript of 1913 Award Hearings in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, Australian Builders’ Labourers’ Federation v A. W. Archer, Australian Archives B1958 (B1958/1) 9/1912, pp. 136, 258 and 305, hereafter page references are given in brackets.

[4] Robyn Annear, A City Lost and Found, Whelan the Wrecker’s Melbourne, Black Inc., Melbourne , 2005, p. 7.

[5] Architecture, November 1924, p. 11.

[6] Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), 24 December 1927 , p. 11f.

[7] 101 Commonwealth Arbitration Reports (CAR) (1962) 318 at 330-1.

[8] Jack Mundey, Green bans and beyond, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1981, p. 36.

[9] Annear, A City Lost and Found, pp. 93 and 143.

[10] NSW Builders’ Labourer, July 1970, p. 43.

[11] Annear, A City Lost and Found, pp. 93 and 203.

[12] Letter from Harry Karslake, 1 May 2007 .

[13] Work Hazards, November 1988, p. 16; Building Worker, April 1987, p. 5.

[14] Mayhew, “Demolishers”, JOH& S ANZ , October 1999, pp. 441-7.

[15] Building & Engineer Journal (B&EJ), 3 June 1893 , pp. 202-5; 1913 Transcript, pp. 421-2 & 678; Builders’ Labourers’ News (BLN), 12 May 1916, p. 3.

[16] Worker, 14 June 1917 , p. 5; Architectural and Building Journal of Queensland, 10 February 1927, p. 42; Nick Dyrenfurth and Marian Quartly, “Fat Man v. ‘the People’: Labour Intellectuals and the Making of Oppositional Identities, 1890-1901”, Labour History, 92, May 2007, pp. 31-56.

[17] Henry Copeland, Adam’s Curse and Labor-Saving Inventions, Sydney , Turner & Henderson, Sydney , 1885, pp. 10, 13 and 68.

[18] BLN, 7 January 1916 , p. 1.

[19] Quoted Raymond Postgate, Builders’ history, National Federation of Building Trade Operatives, London , 1923, p. 426.

[20] Argus, 31 December 1906 , p. 5d.

[21] BLN, 1 September 1916 , p. 5.

[22] Report of the Royal Commission on Strikes, 1890-91, Sydney , 1891, para 10559.

[23] 15 CAR (1921) 108 at 110; NSW Industrial Gazette, v. 11, May 1917, p. 1099.

[24] Australian Builders’ Labourers’ Federation (ABLF) Records, Victorian Branch, Minutes, 12 July 1926 , Noel Butlin Archives Centre (NBAC), ANU, Z398/27.

[25] Adapted from W. M. Hughes, Crusts and Crusades, Angus and Robertson, Sydney , 1947, p. 73.

[26] Builders’ Labourers’ News (BLN), 24 December 1915 , p. 4; 12 May 1916, p. 3.

[27] Victorian Executive, 9 June 1948 ; NSW Builders’ Laborer, July 1961, p. 9; Unity, March-April 1985, p. 24.

[28] Parliamentary Debates (PD), SA, 14 August 1907 , p. 342.

[29] George Chesson, MHA, Parliamentary Debates (PD), SA, 14 August 1907 , p. 342.

[30] 7 CAR (1913) 210 at 231-2.

[31] Western Australian Industrial Gazette, volume 18, 1938-39, p. 529.

[32] Australian Trades & Labour Journal, 12 October 1889, p. 4; Builder and Contractors’ News, 20 September 1890, p. 216; 1913 Transcript, p. 136; Victoria, Parliamentary Debates, v. 161, 4 October 1922, pp. 1666-7.

[33] Frank B. Gilbreth, Bricklaying system, M.C. Clark, New York, 1909, p. 130; Frederick Winslow Taylor and Sanford E. Thompson, Concrete costs: tables and recommendations for estimating the time and cost of labor operations in concrete construction and for introducing economical methods of management, Wiley, New York, 1912.

[34] “Editorial”, Australasian Engineering and Machinery, April 1913; cf. Australian Engineer, 7 November 1941 , p. 100.

[35] Peter Poynton, “The Development of the Assembly line in Australia”, Arena, 58, 1981, pp. 64-81; Peter Cochrane, “Company Time, Management, Ideology and the Labour Process, 1940-60”, Labour History, pp. 54-66.

[36] W. B. Kennedy, “Productivity, Research and Innovation”, John Hutton (ed.), Housing and Construction in Australia, Cheshire, Melbourne, 1970, pp. 228-53; Lindie Clark, Finding a Common Interest, The story of Dick Dusseldorp and Lend Lease, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne, 2002, chapter 1.

[37] Interview, Melbourne , 28 April 2006 .

[38] Victorian Minutes, 4 October 1926 .

[39] B&EJ, 8 August 1891 , pp. 70-71.

[40] Victorian Minutes, 16 March 1931 .

[41] ABLF, NSW Branch Records, Executive, 20 September 1938 , pp. 23 & 26, Mitchell Library (ML), MSS 4879, Box MLK04275 .

[42] D. W. Downey addressing Victorian Branch, Minutes, 5 April 1937 .

[43] NSW Executive, 14 July 1938 .

[44] NSW Executive, 9 May 1939.

[45] NSW Executive, 31 July 1940 .

[46] ABLF Federal Management Committee, 19 September 1940 , NBAC, N130/40.

[47] Victorian Executive, 24 November and 3 December 1945 , 6 February 1946 ; Builders’ Laborers’ Journal, July 1947, p. 1.

[48] Unity, March-April 1985, p. 12, and August 1985, p. 12.

[49] The Australian truck mixer: its origins and development, NRMCA, Melbourne, 1982; Building Materials and Equipment, March 1968, p. 30; Diane Hutchinson, “The Post-War Cement Industry”, Miles Lewis (ed.), Two hundred years of concrete in Australia, Concrete Institute of Australia, Sydney, 1988, pp. 118-21.

[50] Builder (SA), 23 December 1966 , pp. 11-12

[51] Clay Products Journal of Australia, (CPJA), September 1948, p. 13, November 1948, pp. 5 and 14 September 1949, p. 11, November 1950, p. 7, February 1951, p. 17, and February 1953, p. 9; for transport see CPJA, August 1955, p. 23; for packaging, Australian National Clay (ANC), February 1965, pp. 16-18 and July 1965, p. 8 & 28-32; ABLF evidence, Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission (CC&AC), Transcript, No. 200 of 1970, 6 March 1972, p. 284, MLK 04264.

[52] NSW Industrial Commission, Transcript, No. 11 of 1960, MLK 04269.

[53] BLJ, October 1957, p. 2.

[54] For “lift slab” see Building and Decorating Materials, September 1959, pp. 26-29 and 83; January-February 1960, p. 15; for the founding of the Australian Division of the Modular Society, SMH, 5 July 1960, p. 19 and 16 August 1960, p. 22; for its slow progress, see series of ten articles by Gordon Young, Builder (SA), February to June 1965, and one each from Henry J. Cowan, Builder (SA), 14 October 1966, pp. 10-16 & 36-38, and G. S. Lindsay, Builder (SA), 23 December 1966, pp. 8-13.

[55] Barbara Dawson, Strength in concrete: a history of the formation and evolution of the company, now known as AMATEK, 1936 – 1959, privately printed, Canberra , 1989; ANC, June 1962, p. 25; Australian Building Technology, September 1962, pp. 15-16; Hutton, Australian Building and Construction, p. 184; ABLF, Queensland Branch Records, Minutes, 25 September 1962, Fryer Library, University of Queensland, QUFL 166.

[56] for Melbourne ’s first tower crane see Architecture and Arts, October 1955, p. 48.

[57] 101 CAR (1962) 318 at 330.

[58] SMH, 14 March 1907 , p. 8a.

[59] Victoria, Legislative Assembly, PD, v. 186, 7 October 1931 , p. 3519; vol. 185, 9 June 1931 , p. 511.

[60] SMH, 14 August, 1936 , p. 18b.

[61] Daily Telegraph, 9 November 1938 , p. 7d.

[62] NSW Executive, 15 November 1938 , pp. 33-37.

[63] Victorian Minutes, 6 September 1937 .

[64] Daily Telegraph, 24 November 1938 . p. 11c-d.

[65] SMH, 17 February 1939 , p. 10h; for the exemption of Adelaide riggers from written tests, Builder (SA), 23 January 1970 , p. 26.

[66] Unity, March 1958, p. 3; SMH, 16 July 1960 , p. 18b.

[67] 101 CAR (1962) 318 at 322.

[68] NSW Builders’ Laborer, September-October 1966, p. 3; Sun-Herald, 1 March 1970, p. 22b; leaflets in MLK04262; Mundey, Green Bans and Beyond, p. 76.

[69] Henry Pollack, The Accidental Developer, The fascinating rise to the top of Mirvac founder Henry Pollack, ABC Books, Sydney, 2005, pp. 281-2.

[70] SMH, 9 February 1974 , p. 11.

[71] CC&AC, Transcript, No. 938 of 1973, 29 May 1973 , p. 38, MLK 04263.

[72] CC&AC, Transcript, No. 938 of 1973, 29 May 1973, pp. 33-35, for MBA complaints, pp. 22-24, MLK 04263; Builder NSW, July 1973, pp. 290-94; see also entries in NSW organisers’ diary, 1972, MLK 04274.

[73] SMH, 9 February 1974 , p. 11.

[74] NSW Dogman’s Committee’ Leaflets, MLK 04263.

[75] Sun-Herald, 1 March 1970 , p. 20.

[76] Architectural Science Review, March 1972, pp. 8-13.

[77] Owens to NSW ALP, 27 May 1974 , MLK 04266.

[78] Mainline meeting, 28 June 1973, MLK 04272; Pollack, Accidental Developer, p. 294; see also Gabrielle Grammeno, “Helmet-mounted hearing protectors”, JOH&S ANZ, 2 (3), June 1986, pp. 234-5.

[79] SMH, 9 February 1974 , p. 11.

[80] Sun-Herald, 1 March 1970 , p. 22.

[81] Kevin Cook, “From the BLF to Tranby”, Hal Alexander and Phil Griffiths (eds) A Few Rough Reds, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Canberra Region, 2003, p. 44.

[82] SMH, 9 February 1974 , p. 11; Pollack, Accidental Developer, p. 282; riding the hook became illegal in New South Wales from 1983.

[83] Interview, Port Broughton, 7 July 2005 .

[84] For the Coronial Report see

[85] Annear, A City Lost and Found, pp. 16 and 23.

[86] SMH, 19 January 1957 , pp. 1 and 16.

[87] Robert Clark, The Dogman, Cheshire , Melbourne , 1962, p. 3.

[88] A. A. Congalton, Occupational status in Australia, Studies in Sociology, 3, University of NSW School of Sociology, Kensington, 1963, pp. 51 and 76.

[89] SMH, 9 February 1974 , p. 11

[90] Marshall Berman, All That is Solid Melts into Air, The Experience of Modernity, Simon and Schuster, New York, 1982, chapter 4 on the changing class nature of whom gave way to whom on the Nevsky Prospect in Petersburg across a century of Russian literature to 1917.

[91] Henry Lawson, Collected Verse, Volume one: 1885-1900, Angus and Robertson, Sydney , 1967, pp. 15-17.

Also in 1956, the left-wing poet John Thompson played with this divided outlook towards the masses in his version of “The Faces in the Street”, SMH, 3 November 1956, p. 15.

[92] Clark , The Dogman, p. 2.

[93] K. Marx and F. Engels, The Holy Family, or Critique of Critical Critique, Foreign Languages Publishing House, Moscow , 1956, pp. 51-52.

[94] John Manifold, Collected Verse, University of Queensland Press , St Lucia , 1978, p. 8.

See also:

Back to A framework of flesh

To Chapter 6: Occupational health