An Australian icon – jam bottling at Cottee's

This is a black-and-white photograph taken at Cottee's General Foods Ltd jam factory at Leichhardt, New South Wales in 1972. It shows three women working at a jar-filling machine and two women working at a bench.

Educational value

  • shows women working with an automated jam-packing machine – the women appear to be inspecting the jars which have been filled, labelled and put into pallets of 12; automation replaces the tedious repetition and hard labour of manual tasks, but it also reduces the need for a large workforce.
  • shows women who are possibly working under the new award rates – in 1972 equal pay for work of equal value was granted to men and women; in order to determine equal value of work, benchmarks were established; the benchmark for a jam-jar-filling machine was set at a machine capacity of 600 jars per minute, so that any man or woman working a jar-filling machine at 600 jars per minute was to be paid the same wage.
  • probably shows migrant women working in the factory – when Australia needed to increase its population after World War II, migrants (mainly Britons and displaced persons) who arrived on the Assisted Passage Scheme were required to work wherever they were assigned for a period of two years; many of them chose to remain after that period.
  • probably shows women from non-British countries – most non-British migrants began arriving in 1952 from Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and Yugoslavia; the Hungarian Government's repression of an uprising in 1956 saw 14,000 Hungarian refugees come to Australia between 1956 and 1958, and the Russian invasion after the 'Prague Spring' in Czechoslovakia in 1968 brought 6000 Czech and Slovak refugees.
  • shows women wearing long sleeves and overalls, with their hair more or less covered for hygienic reasons – modern regulations stipulate that hats should be worn to prevent food contamination from bacteria clinging to the hair and scalp.
  • shows a worksite in the Cottee's factory – in the 1920s the Cottee family sold soft drinks to dispose of surplus crops from their orchards; the success of their company led to the merger in 1970 with the General Foods Corp of the USA to form Cottee's General Foods Limited, and in 1984 Cottee's Foods was acquired by Cadbury Schweppes Pty Ltd.