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Women and child labor in salt mining

Women and child labor in the prehistoric Hallstatt salt mines:

Anthropological investigations carried out as part of archaeological research on 40 children's and young people's skeletons from the Hallstatt burial ground suggest that, in addition to women and men, children and young people were also intensively involved in the work process of prehistoric salt mining. Both sexes seem to have been involved in salt mining from childhood.

Signs of wear and tear on some large joints and the cervical spine were found on the children's skeletons. From the mostly symmetrical patterns of wear and tear on the upper spine, it could be concluded that the head was involved in a carrying activity. The features on the bones of the Hallstatt children, which indicate early work activities, are tangible from around the age of 8.


Figure 1: Portrait of a life in the Old Iron Age salt mines in Hallstatt, from Reschreiter "Child labor at a depth of 100 m"

In addition to taking care of the glowing shavings, small children could have been used to collect old material and to transport operating materials, while older children could have been used to collect and transport the scraps that accumulated when the heart-shaped salt plates were mined, and to keep the water out. The wear and tear on the found children's shoes suggests constant walking up and down on climbing trees. Depending on their gender, young people and adults were responsible for working out the salt plates and transporting them. The wear and tear on women's skeletons suggests that women carried heavy loads on one shoulder - presumably the salt slabs. The mining of the salt flats was probably reserved for male adolescents and adults.


Women and child labor in the Salzburg Montan area:

The subject of the employment of women and children in the Salzburg Montan area and thus also at the Saline Hallein was scientifically extensively processed. Angelika Kromas dealt with this topic in her article "On the everyday and festival culture of the Salzburg miners". She writes:

"Women's and child labor in the Salzburg Montan area has not yet been adequately researched. But she did play a part. Until the 19th century, children worked from the age of 12, depending on their physical and mental abilities, and earned a living: farmer's children as shepherd boys or children's girls, sons of miners in the mines as "Klaubejungen" and the like.

Although women did not work in the mines as hewers, they must have found employment nonetheless, because the Salzburg Mining Ordinance of 1591 for Gastein and Rauris banned women from working. The women and daughters of miners also found work as brine creators on the Dürrnberger Salzberg up to the beginning of the 17th century. In metallurgy, they were traditionally employed in auxiliary and auxiliary work. For example, women worked in the Gasteiner/Rauris mining area as "washers" in ore processing, as seamstresses of the sacks, and as cooks and waitresses in the miners' quarters.

In salt production in Hallein, women mainly worked in the trading post and in the brewhouse as food and beer carriers, as "ash carriers" when clearing the ash and coal from the ovens, as "cyclists" in the scoop wheels, which scooped the brine into the pan , as "Fuderträgerinnen" and "Prieselwhoren".


Figure 2: Woman carrying ashes, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994


Figure 3: Cyclists, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994

From the end of the 16th century, when the boom in mining began to slow down, women were gradually pushed out of mining, metallurgy and salt works. The above-mentioned mining regulations for the Gastein and Rauris mining areas justify the ban on women's work with a lack of profitability, because "sy would not do much and only the publishing house and the earnings would be increased and increased". Structural change in the first half of the 19th century made the situation even worse, and by 1835 women were hardly finding any work opportunities in Hallein salt production. Patriarchal power structures, economic - rational and moral - ethical considerations ultimately led to mining becoming a male domain. In the field of mining and metallurgy, too, it can be seen that women's work was common as long as it brought economic benefits."

In his article “Salzarbeiterkultur. The function of cultural traditions in the 19th century” also refers to women's work.

“In the Halleiner Saline, too, the separation between business and family was initially balanced. Even in the Vormärz, the wives of salt workers were used for various activities in salt production, such as "salt choppers" or "skid lifters". In many cases, the wives, and sometimes the children, brought food and drink to their husbands or fathers. On this occasion, breaks were used for a piece of family life.


Figure 4: Salt choppers, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757,  from "Salt", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994


Figure 5: Frost drivers, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994

Figure 6: Woman carrying beer, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994

As a result, male unemployment was partially compensated for by the dismissal of female salt workers. It is difficult to assess whether it meant progress for the women concerned to be relieved of heavy physical work but lose the opportunity to earn their own income.

With the centralization of the saltworks in the 1850s/60s, people from outside the company were finally excluded, including the “food carriers”, who had formed a link between home and work, so to speak.”


Women and child labor in the Bavarian salt pans:


Renate Weber deals in her article "Of "wet and drunken" prostitutes. Women's work in the Bavarian salt pans” also deals in detail with this topic.  

Her reference to the mining regulations of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau from 1592 is particularly interesting:


Figure 7: Prince Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau, 1589, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994

"In the mining regulations of Archbishop Wolf Dietrich von Raitenau from 1592, there was no longer any room for frivolous women. Because of the promotion of “pergarbait, women are becoming more and more light-hearted in the Perg mer als nuz”, the top mountain master should no longer allow women to work in the mountain. The miners, the watermen responsible for watering the leach works and other mining officials employed their wives, children and servants to scoop out the saturated brine from the leach works with the help of leather buckets – a relatively easy job. However, since these relatives also had to carry the burden of housework and field work for the miners' estates, they were often unable to do regular work in the form of the prescribed shifts.

The archbishop therefore prohibited the use of the "foreign, careless, abandoned and much young, ungrowing gsindl, which does more good than good", and decreed that in "sonnderhait careless and suspicious women should not be tolerated or kept in any way". . In order to ensure careful supervision of the 72 creators, a separate hat man was hired for them as foreman and controller.

Below is the description of women's work in the Bavarian salt pans by Renate Weber:

“If you look at pictures that were commissioned in various salt pans in the 18th century in order to capture the “merciful salt creature” in all its details, you will discover, quite naturally, working women among the people portrayed. After 1790 they disappeared from the ranks of the salt workers and obviously from historical consciousness.

The actual boiling of the salt was carried out exclusively by men, the Pfannhausers, in groups of ten or eleven people. As soon as the salt began to crystallize - about every three hours - it had to be pulled with jars to the edge of the pan, to the so-called "Pehrstatt", and shoveled out of the brine into the 24 skids that were mounted on a wooden framework, the "Asenbaum ', directly above the pan. The wet salt got stuck in the perskids several times. It was called "fuderstechen" - a purely male work, which was carried out alternately by the two Pfannhauser - parties, "although hard, but the most necessary work, because apart from that you would not get a whole fueder". Finally, the runner had to be filled to the brim and again "with a Bölzer lower and one, so the per runners were flattened", "so that the laab and wateriness come out of it". A woman, the “Urentdirn”, helped with this work. The Perkufen were left to drain further on the Asenbaum, after which they were carried by men to the Urentmäuerl, a small wall at the front of the pan, near the furnace. The fuders were placed on the Urentmäuerl with the broader side, the Perkufe detached with a bang and carried empty back to the pan.

The Urentdirn now had to measure, cut and smooth the salt dome formed by the Perkufe to standard size. The fuders then stayed in the heat next to the pan to dry further. The Urentdirn had to sweep up the salt that had been cut off and throw it into one of the brine vats to increase the temperature.

These brine vats or "well rooms" were in the immediate vicinity of the pan. The brine that had not been used up when draining or draining the pan had to be poured back into the brine tub, as did the pan stone that had been knocked out when the pan was cleaned.

When the salt sticks standing at the Urentmäuerl had dried a little, they had to be carried – now referred to as “wet fuder” – from the pan house into the drying chamber of the hardening house, the “Pfiesel”, where they were “hardened”. This was the task of most of the women employed in the salt works. They were referred to as "night or "Pfieselwhores", also known as "Fudertragerinnen".

In the drying chambers, the fodder was lined up by the "Hauffensezer" or the house servants on boards or brick platforms until the room was full. They dried in the heat of the open beechwood fire for a few days until they hardened and rang like a bell when struck. These salt domes, known as "dry fuders", brought the "Pfieselwhores" or "dry fodder carriers" to the "Stoßstätten". For carrying, the women used a trough-shaped piece of wood, the "fuedertrag Kröckhl", into which the fuders were placed. A so-called "fodder carrying hood" was used for protection. The "fuedertrag Kröckhl" was probably also intended to prevent the still soft, damp Fuder from breaking apart, or to make carrying the pebbled, hot Fuder bearable. A second person helped with loading and unloading. A wet load weighed at least 30 kg.

The salt sticks were thrown onto the ground in the pits, left to cool for half a day and then crushed with mallets. The salt should be "not too coarse nor too small, but the size of the largest knuckle of a man's finger", i.e. about half the size of a thumb. In Hallein, however, the butting was also – at least in part – done by women, as an illustration by Joseph Lexhaller shows. The crushed salt was filled into wooden barrels with a capacity of approx. 3 Fuder for transport. It had to be pushed in firmly with a wooden rammer to prevent cavities from forming.


Figure 8: Salt choppers, Josef Lexhaller, 1802, from "Salt makes history", Bayr. National Exhibition 1995

The women belonged to the lowest paid wage group. According to an overview for Reichenhall from 1705, women earned between 4 and 6 guilders a year. A Pfannhauser came to 13 guilders in 1705.

The main tasks of the women were carrying loads and working for the male pancake workers. The women in the Bavarian saltworks were not allowed to work directly on the pan. Activities outside of the boiling and hardening houses, in the wood store and at the rake, in the area of the brine line, in the sawmill, in the carpentry shop and work in the forest were all male activities.”


Women and child labor in the Kammergut Salinas:

The topic of women and children working in the Kammergut Salinas has not yet been dealt with in scientific literature. The documentation on this is very poor.

In the 1st Reformation Dragonfly from 1524, "20 boys" are mentioned for the Hallstatt salt mines, who are used for smaller tasks such as raising "mountains", driving air bellows, carrying iron and the like.

The corresponding entry on page 60 reads in the original:

"Because of the twenty knechten that his boys has ainer of a taglon six phenning. They should therefore pull the perg from the Eÿsnhewern what they won the aws the Gruebm, and jump in aws the henndn, and do with the previous Lufft, the Carry Eysn to vnndvon the smith and to other des pergs notturfftn aws business of pergmaister or schaffer do what is indicated .”


Figure 9: 1st Reformation Dragonfly 1524, page 60, Archiv Salinen Austria

A total of 131 men were employed at the Hallstatt salt mine at that time.

Explicitly mentioned is the work of women and children in the sphere of activity of the Hallstatt court mason, whose task was the maintenance of the official building and the pan house. The daily wage for a "woman" was officially set at 14 pfennigs (3 ½ Kreuzer) and for a "boy" at 10 to 12 pfennigs (2 ½ - 3 Kreuzer) depending on his size and work. The lowest wage for a male worker was that of the "common day labourer" at 24 pfennigs (6 kreuzer). A permanently employed journeyman bricklayer already received 32 pfennigs (8 Kreuzer) daily wages.

Presumably, as in Hallein, women were also employed in the Hallstatt pancake house to operate the water wheel. With the help of the scoop wheel, the hot brine that had been drained into the "Labstube" before the repair work was put into operation was lifted back onto the pan and fed in under the supervision of a master wheeler.


Figure 10: Hallstatt panhouse, lab room with water wheel, around 1773, Archive Salinen Austria

In the 3rd Reformation Dragonfly from 1656 there are also a few references to women and children working in the salt industry.

A court mason and a court master carpenter with the necessary workers were employed in the court clerk's office in Hallstatt to maintain the pan house and the official building. The daily wage for "women" was officially set at 5 kreuzers and for "boys" at 6 to 7 kreuzers, depending on their "condition of their strength". The daily wage of a male "common day labourer", on the other hand, was 10 Kreuzer.

The wages paid in the Ischl Verwesamt were significantly higher than those in the court clerk's office in Hallstatt. The daily wage of a "woman" employed by the master mason was 7 ½ kreuzer, that of an ordinary male henchman 10 kreuzer. A day laborer or "boy" received 9 Kreuzer daily wages in the Ischler Salzberg. The day laborers or "boys" were busy with various auxiliary work in mining, the "weatherfochen" (operation of the fans for the supply of fresh air) and the transfer of the mining iron to and from the mining forge.


Figure 11: Wetterfocher, Kefer, manipulation descriptions, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria

In the Verwesamt Ebensee, the daily wage for an adult boy or a "woman" was in the area of the master mason, as in Ischl, at 7 ½ Kreuzer.

The purchasing power of the wages paid to women in the mid-17th century was extremely low. At that time, 1 Metzen (Stadtmetzen Gmunden = 62 liters) of grain cost 1 guilder 30 kreuzers (1 guilder = 60 kreuzers), 1 Metzen of wheat 45 kreuzers - 1 guilder, 1 pound (0.56 kg) of lard 8 - 9 kreuzers, 1 Pounds of butter 5-6 kreuzers and a pair of "common crew shoes" 40-45 kreuzers.

In 1724 the Hofkammer requested a specification of the age of the workers from the Salzoberamt Gmunden. The list showed that among the 2,156 workers from Hallstatt, Ischl and Ebensee, 1,134 were under the age of 18 and 355 were even between the ages of 7 and 12.

In 1731, on the other hand, a sharp reprimand was issued to the salt offices: "These young fellows marry as soon as they earn a piece of bread, and so the Kammergut becomes too populess, and that's not enough, the young fellows are clumsy and careless at work, are damaged, and it costs the official treasury only doctor’s wages and commissions.” People that young were therefore no longer allowed to work, and in order to be able to control it, the Gmunden Salt Office was instructed to publish a specification about the age of the workers every year send to Vienna.

Originally, the family members of a Kammergutarbeiter were excluded from receiving farm grain. This was the reason for employing children under the age of 12. It was not until 1789 that the farm grain was extended to family members. Annually, 8 Metzen were issued for a man, 5 for a woman and 2 ½ Metzen for each child under the age of 12 for an officially determined fee. From the age of 12, children were now forced to work to contribute to the family income.

In 1788, out of a total of 900 workers employed in the Ischl Verwesamt, 90 were children between the ages of 10 and 15.

In his book "Travelling through Upper Austria" from 1809, Joseph August Schultes describes the composition of the staff at the Ischler Salzberg. He mentions 12 "workboys" who had to shovel the waste that accumulated during the factory clean-up into buckets or chests and bring it down or down the elevator.  The workboys were children of the miners. He also led 16 "Lettenschlägerbuben" who had to beat the Laist to "Lattenziegeln" for damming work. The Lettenschlägerbuben were also mostly children of the miners. Her weekly wage was 42 kr. only about half the size of that of the other miners. According to Schultes, around 1800 a total of 190 men were employed at the Ischler Salzberg. In his records there is no reference to women working in the Ischler Salzberg.


Figure 12: Laist transport to the Kefer elevator, manipulation descriptions, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria


Figure 13: Production of lettuce bricks, Kefer, manipulation descriptions, 1836, Archiv Salinen Austria

From 1821, "miner boys" or "manipulation pupils", mostly the sons of supervisors, were allowed to work in the salt mines. The prerequisites for this were a minimum age of 12 years and an existing school certificate. The number of "mountain boys" was limited to 8 in Ischl and 12 in Hallstatt. They initially served without pay and, after a probationary period, received a salary including farm grain if they performed satisfactorily. The manipulation pupils belonged to the working class. At first they only provided their services on the salt mountains and formed the offspring of the mountain championship. With the development of technology in metallurgy and forestry, it became necessary to hire these companies as well. Their appointment and promotion was within the sphere of activity of the Gmunden Salt Office.

In 1824, the Viennese Court Chamber complained to the Salzamt Gmunden that, despite instructions to the contrary, the Verwesäter continued to accept young people who had outgrown school without much consideration for the needs of the companies. That started for the youngsters  the long-awaited treat with corn and lard.

A total of around 5,000 workers were probably employed in the salt industry around 1820. This number was already reduced by 1,058 in 1825. In 1832, 3,858 men served in the salt industry, 741 of them in Ischl. In 1851 the ministry set the peak of stable laborers at 3,739 men. Only a stable worker was entitled to provisions (farm grain and lard), medical treatment and sick pay, and commissions (pensions).


Figure 14: Ischler saltworks Kornstadl, official forge, official saw, 1870, ÖNB archive

In the event of increased sick leave, military conscription and additional demands due to larger construction projects, the administrative offices were forced to take on interim workers for a limited period of time in addition to the stable workers in order to be able to continue operations without problems. However, the intermal workers, first mentioned in 1829, had no entitlement to provisions, medical treatment, sick pay or commissions. Among the interim workers there were mainly women, children and young people.

Statistics from the kk Ministry of Finance from the years 1858 - 1862 show the proportion of women and children among the employees of the Upper Austrian salt works offices:  


The strongest percentage annual fluctuations occur in the case of employed children, while the proportion of employed women remains relatively stable at 173. The proportion of women was 8% on average, and that of children 3% on average.


Figure 15: Hallstatt Kerntrageweiber, around 1900, ÖNB archive

Typical women's work involved carrying loads on their heads or in sacks on their backs. The "Kerntragweiber" from Hallstatt formed a typical example, whose activity could be proven up to the year 1890. They had to carry the rock salt down into the valley several times a day over a difference in altitude of 520 meters, the loads were 30 to 40 kg.

Women and child labor in the salt maker service:

For a long time, the salt manufacturers formed the indispensable link between the salt production sites and its sales markets. Although the manufacturers were not allowed to sell the salt themselves, they converted it into transportable "salt buckets" and transported them. Their work consisted of buying the salt (“Salzfuder”) from the brewhouses, packing it in wooden vessels (“Salzkufen”) and transporting it to the loading points (sales points) on the Traun and Danube. To carry out this work, the salt workers hired wage workers, so that they became small entrepreneurs. The finishers were remunerated by the Salt Office according to the amount of salt cubes produced and transported according to officially fixed rates.

The number of salt productions was by and large constant. In 1740, the 37 production facilities in the Salzkammergut were divided into 8 in Gmunden, 10 in Hallstatt, 13 in Ischl and 6 in Lauffen. The total number of all workers employed in the salt production, without the family members also involved in the production process, was 552 at that time.

In the frequent times of war, when salt production dropped, the hardship of the "finishers" and their families was very great. Many manufacturers were then often unable to continue to pay wages because they were in debt themselves. In such cases, the Hofkammer only showed itself ready to help after a long period of urging through petitions and petitions. The "finish workers" received only one-time gifts of money or certain amounts of farm grain as an extraordinary "grace". So poverty remained a constant guest in the homesteads of the finishers, who never tired of complaining and asking for help.

Working ten to twelve hours a day, in which the entire family, including women and children, had to help, they were able to get by in normal times, but did not save anything for old age and illness. They were in the finishing service, so they were not imperial workers and were therefore not entitled to farm grain or to free medical treatment and commissions (pensions).


Figure 16: Child wearing braces, Halleiner Fürstenzimmer, 1757, from "Salz", Salzburg State Exhibition 1994

In 1 694 the Ischl buyers, shovelers and boatmen made a pleading request to the Court Chamber to help them in their extreme need: "Your little body clothing is completely torn off, we can no longer create anything for ourselves and ours, let alone put our mouths through it, in Several people are already starving for lack of bread and have died. If we are not helped, we have to emigrate with our wives and children and do the charity work, we get no help from the manufacturers because they themselves are in need and sometimes cannot pay us our small earnings on Saturdays". The cry of distress did not go unheeded, the finishers received a one-time, extraordinary "mercy" in the form of an additional payment of 1 kr to their daily wages for the past year.

The plight of the finishers and their families is reflected above all in the purchasing power of their daily wages. In 1728, for example, a finishing worker earned a daily wage of 4 kr 1 Pf. According to a report from the salt office to the superior ministerial - banco - deputation, in 1747 the costs for the weekly food required (semolina, flour, bread, butter, Schotten, lard ) for a worker and family at 1 fl 13 kr 1 Pf. The weekly earnings of a finisher corresponded to only 40.6% of the necessary living expenses.


Legal regulations on women and child labor in mining in the 19th century:  

After lengthy preparatory work, numerous reports, drafts and revisions, the new "General Mining Law" was approved by Emperor Franz Josef I on May 23, 1854 by Imperial Patent, RGBL. 1854/146, promulgated. It comprised 16 main pieces with a total of 286 paragraphs; however, none of them engaged in women or child labour.


Figure 17: Mining Law 1854, cover sheet, RIS

The mine owners still saw the children only as cheap "working material" which they did not shy away from exploiting if possible. But her parents didn't take care of her either; On the contrary, they also took advantage of their children, taking them with them into the mines at an early age in order to increase their wages, although they were small. Though more sensible parents saw how detrimental such work was to both physical and mental development, they did not have the moral strength to forgo this kind of augmentation of their family income. State intervention was thus fully justified and necessary.

First of all, for the legislation to protect children planned around 1880, the question had to be clarified up to what age work was inadmissible and therefore forbidden, or up to what age regular, strenuous work hindered physical development to such an extent that that permanent damage to the organism would result.

With regard to women, too, the legislation had to extend in two directions in particular: limitation of working hours and limitation of employment. In favor of a maximum working day spoke  not only the consideration of health and physical development, but also, in accordance with the role model of the woman at that time, the fact that the married women workers had to fulfill important duties as leaders of the housework and as carers and educators of children, which they had to fulfill when they worked excessively long hours were unable to fulfil.

After years of discussions and considerations between the economic interests of the mine owners and the growing socio-political interests of the state, the workers' amendment was passed on July 21, 1884 against the massive resistance of business people  R.-G.-Bl. No. 115 decided.


Figure 18: Arbeiternovelle 1884, RIS

This law provided for the first time an age limit for miners. In general, from now on, the 14th year of life was required to be accepted for mining work. Only in exceptional cases could children between the ages of 12 and 14 be used for light work above ground, without prejudice to their compulsory schooling, at the request of their parents or guardians with a special permit from the mining authority.

Adolescent males who have not exceeded the age of 16 may only be employed in a way “which is not disadvantageous to their physical development”. There was no special maximum working time for young people; but a general regulation, which applied to all miners without distinction of age and sex, limited the length of shifts to 12 hours, during which the actual working time was not to exceed 10 hours. The start of the shift was calculated according to the time of entry, and its end after the completed exit. Under pressure from the mine owners, there was no ban on night work or an express ban on certain jobs.

The same regulations applied to young workers of the female sex, with the single exception that their young age was counted as being up to 18 years of age. In addition, from now on women and girls of all ages could only be used during the day. Women who have recently given birth were only allowed to start work six weeks after giving birth, but after four weeks if they had received medical confirmation of their ability to work.


Figure 19: Hallein salt workers, around 1900, Salzburg Museum archive

In 1911 the R.-G.-Bl. No. 237 amended the law on "Child and women labor in mining". From now on, the employment of young people under the age of 14 in the mining industry was generally forbidden and a ban on night work between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. was introduced for women and girls regardless of their age.

The new legal foundations are contained in a "Service regulation for the workers' personnel at the kk Salinen administration in Bad Ischl" from 1913. According to these service regulations, young miners between the ages of 14 and 18 may not be employed in the following activities:

  • for cleaning (cleaning) of hinged windows;                                                 

  • to work that must be carried out on ladders;                                          

  • to work on roofs;                                                                       

  • to draw water from rivers and streams;                                                      

  • for stove heating;                                                                                  

  • for lighting and extinguishing lamps;                                                         

  • for operating motors and motor-driven machine tools;                             

  • for pulling reels, braking, running carts on uphill tracks, moving hoists on uphill or downhill tracks, pulling water and moving hoists of greater weight or with heavy loads in general;                            

  • to any services during the night time, that is from 6pm to 6am.


With the novella of  Law on child and women labor - StGBl. No. 406 of July 28, 1919, night work for young miners was generally forbidden.

Of the  Section 2, paragraph 1 of this law reads: "Female workers regardless of their age and young male workers may not be employed in mining at night, i.e. in the hours between eight in the evening and five in the morning." In paragraph 2, night rest is also prescribed: "The night rest of the workers referred to in the first paragraph must be at least eleven consecutive hours."  In addition, a ban on working overtime is prescribed in § 7: "Young workers (§1 Paragraph 2) may not be employed in overtime."

The centralization of the salt pans and the new social legislation at the beginning of the 20th century meant the final end for the employment of women and children in the mining industry. Only in times of war did women find employment in the mining industry again in the 20th century, which they lost when the men returned.

Only women jobs in administration, in workshops or in the cleaning area remained at the salt works.


Women's work in mining today:

The general ban on women working in underground mining remained in place in Austria until 2001. With the BGBL. No. 98/2001 of July 31, 2001, some simplifications were decided for women.

The following exceptions to the ban on women working in underground mining were approved:

  • For people in managerial positions who do not do physical work;

  • For people working in health and welfare services;

  • For people who want a more practical time during their studies  undergo vocational training in the underground parts of a mine;

  • For other persons who occasionally drive underground parts of a mine in the exercise of a profession that does not require physical work.

This made it possible for women to work underground, especially in surveying and geological activities.

In the summer of 2004, the EU Commission initiated infringement proceedings against Austria because of the ban on women working during the day. Austrian law contradicted the EU ban on discrimination against women. Austria's argument that women are weaker and therefore at greater health risk in mining was not covered by the current EU rules.

Austria's objection to the infringement procedure was rejected on February 1 and Austria is obliged to revise its legal basis for the ban on women working underground.

Austria subsequently complied with this requirement by revising the Employee Protection Act. Today, women are allowed to work underground with men on an equal footing. There are only special regulations for women , such as in the case of pregnancy or maternity leave, which remain limited to specific areas.


Figure 20: Mining technologist, Hattorf plant Source of potash and salt

Sources used:

Anton Dicklberger "Salinas - History of Upper Austria", 1817, transcription by Thomas Nussbaumer, Weitra 2017

Thomas Hellmut “Salt worker culture. The function of cultural traditions in the 19th century" in "Mining - everyday life and identity of the Dürrnberg miners and Halleiner saltworks workers", Salzburg contributions to folklore, Salzburg, 1998

Lieselotte Jontes "Minerwomen-Workers-Students", Leoben 2014

Karel Kramar "The state wage policy and the situation of the workers in the salt pans of the Salzkammergut up to 1748", JB. For national economy, Vienna 1896

Victor Felix von Kraus "Economic and Administrative Policy in the Gmundner Salzkammergut", Freiburg 1899

Angelika Kromas "On the everyday and festival culture of the Salzburg miners" in "Mining - everyday life and identity of the Dürrnberg miners and Hallein saltworks workers", Salzburg contributions to folklore, Salzburg, 1998

NN "Regulations for the workers' personnel at the kk Salinen administration in Bad Ischl", Linz 1913

Hans Reschreiter, Doris Pany - Kutschera, Dominic Gröbner "Child labor at a depth of 100 m?", Linz 2013

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian salt works from the beginning of the 16th to the middle of the 18th century", Vienna 1932

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1750 to the time after the French Wars", Vienna 1934

Carl Schraml "The Upper Austrian Salt Works from 1818 to the end of the Salt Office in 1850", Vienna 1936

Joseph August Schulte's "Travels through Upper Austria", Volume I, Tübingen 1809, reprint Linz 2008

Renate Weber "Of "Wet and Truckenen Prostitutes". Women's work in the Bavarian salt pans" in "Salt. Makes. History”, House of Bavarian History, Augsburg, 1995

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