During the depression of the 1880s there were very low wages in the clothing and tailoring trades. In October 1888 a Dunedin Presbyterian minister, Rutherford Waddell, delivered a sermon on the ‘sin of cheapness’ in which he argued that there was sweated labour in Dunedin with wages below subsistence level. This claim sparked considerable press interest, of which this cartoon in the New Zealand Observer and Free Lance in November 1888 is one example. The outcry also led to a sweating commission to investigate working conditions in the clothing trades.
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