I mentioned earlier, that last year I was able to purchase some memorabilia from descendants of Jack Ricketts. Jack was a scenic artist who eventually became the manager of Wonderland City for William Anderson. Jack was also a union man.
Life in the 1890s was unkind to workers. There was a depression and a consequent increase in worker organisation. The result was the formation of many different unions. One such union was the Stage Hands Protective and benefit union.
It was formed at a meeting held in Trades Hall ( in Melbourne I think) in September 1890, and Jack was there and elected secretary. Below are some of the notes he took from that meeting.
The first resolution passed was the proposition to form a stage hands union. The aims of it were First to maintain a fair rate of wages in theatres Secondly to obtain a finality of hours of labour in theatres. Thirdly to protect the employees of theatres against the introduction of cheap unskilled labour.
Of course every union must have funds and the stage hand union was no exception. They met the first Sunday of each month at the Trades Hall in Carlton and charged an entrance fee of two shillings 6 pence or 6 pence weekly. Of course nobody was allowed entry unless they had a union card like this.
Jack must have been either particularly rich in April 1891 or a long way behind in his dues because that month he contributed 14 shillings to the cause
Im not sure how long the Stage Hands Union lasted, but by the 1920s scenic designers had their own associaton, the Society of Scenic Artists of Australia .