For most Australian workers, the poor conditions did not change at the turn of the century as the employers merely ignored many of the reforms that were introduced by colonial governments. Because it was usually the men who brought home the general income, unemployment was an immediate danger for the family and thus most workers refused to give evidence against their bosses for fear of being sacked.
In the cities, a large percentage of people worked in factories. Despite progressively strong factory laws, the appalling conditions continued. Most factories were half-converted warehouses that were roofed with unlined galvanized iron and so consequently in summer, the temperatures inside were so hot that it reached over 45°C. The usual employee worked about 10 hours a day and sometimes had to work overtime without extra pay. If they refused to do the extra work, they were sacked.
Most factory jobs did not pay more than 16 shillings a week to women. In a textile industry, women were expected to take work home despite already working up to 16 hours a day. Sometimes work was sent out to their homes as it saved the employer the cost of renting a building, of heating and light.