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Employee Welfare Assistance at Sunshine Harvester Works

Photograph - Sunshine Harvester Works Mortuary Fund Committee, Sunshine, Victoria, Dec 1949

Image: Photograph - Sunshine Harvester Works Mortuary Fund Committee, Sunshine, Victoria, Dec 1949

Source: Museum Victoria

The Sunshine Harvester Works established welfare schemes to assist employees during financial, medical and emotional hardship. One of the first welfare initiatives was the Accident Fund. Established in 1904, the fund helped employees injured in the workplace. Similarly, a Subvention Fund distributed money to employees experiencing difficult financial and medical problems. In addition, family members of deceased employees were able to gain financial assistance through the Mortuary Fund which gave money to next-of-kin. the Sunshine Harvester Works Subvention Fund created in 1913. The Fund's purpose was to assist employees experiencing difficult financial and medical circumstances. Workers were provided with monetary aid or loaned medical equipment to deal with illness and injury. The fund was financed through a weekly deduction from workers' salary. The company also contributed money to the fund. By 1945, the fund had collected nearly £21,800. Most of the money was distributed to employees and then to various charitable causes and appeals including local hospitals, patriotic funds and bushfire and flood relief. Similarly, the Harvester Club, established in 1922, also provided financial assistance to injured workers.

Family members of deceased employees were also cared for through the Sunshine Harvester Mortuary Fund. Since the fund's inception in 1924, nearly £43,000 was provided to next-of-kin by 1947. Money was accumulated from deducting one hour's pay from members' salaries.

Employees were able to access low interest rate loans via the Sunshine Harvester Works Co-Operative Housing Society. The group was established by the Social and Welfare Association in 1950 for company employees only. Members of the society were able to receive assistance to either build new homes or to purchase a dwelling no more than five years old. Public housing properties could also be purchased under the scheme. By July 1950, 90 members had already joined the society. Employees also benefited with the assistance of sub-contractors, while working bees were organised amongst members to speed up the construction process. Victorian Premier T.T Holloway applauded the company's housing scheme as 'a most practical and worthwhile move' in addressing the housing shortage at the time.

References
'Accident Fund Society', Independent, 21 Aug 1909, p.2.
Sunshine Review 1945, 'The Harvester Club' and 'Sunshine Harvester Works Mortuary Fund', vol. 2, no. 4, pp.6.
Sunshine Review 1946, 'Sunshine Harvester Works Mortuary Fund', vol. 3, no.8, pp.3.
Sunshine Review 1947, 'What Sunshine Has to Offer in the Way of Amenities and Employee Services' and 'Employees Subvention Fund - Annual Report', vol. 4, no. 10, pp.4, 11.
Sunshine Review 1950, 'The House That Jack Built', no. 9, pp.4-5.
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