The Echuca Railway

The Argus Friday 19 June 1863 p.5

The Echuca Railway.–The work on the continuation of the grand trunk line of Victoria has now assumed considerable proportions, and if the contractors for the unlet por- tions of the line exhibit the same energy which has been evinced by Mr. Higgins, the railway will be completed within the specified time.

Not many days have elapsed since the contractors and the intending workmen were at loggerheads about the rate of wages, and from the stand which was then taken there was certainly some fear lest the required labour should not be forthcoming.

Now the case is widely different, and men willing to conform to the contractors' terms are offering themselves daily ; but at present there are as many hands employed as the plant and circumstances will allow.

The number of hands now employed is about 200, and these are dispersed in gangs at various points, and notwithstanding the many dangers to which railway excavators are subject, we are happy to say that hitherto there has not been an accident of any description.

The rate of wages varies from 6s. to 8s. per day, according to the worth of the labourer; and if a man working at the lowest scale is found to be worthy of more, his wages are increased accordingly. About seventy-five per cent are receiving 7s. per diem, and eight per cent. 6s. per day, so that the majority are in receipt of the average pay.

Most of the men appear to be Bendigonians, but there are nevertheless a few from the Ballarat line. In addition to the "navvies," there are also employed brick- layers in the construction of culverts, and a number of quarrymen, who are engaged at Back Creek getting out stone. The men, as we have before said, are divided into gangs, and are stationed at intervals along the line; and their work at present is necessarily confined to what is technically termed forming and excavating.

No comments: