Conducts research and collects data on the global history of labour, workers, and labour relations

Italian Chimney Sweeps

8 April 1901

In the nineteenth century chimney sweeps formed the largest group of Italian migrants in the Netherlands. They came from Piemonte and Ticino, provinces on the border of Switzerland and Italy. Almost 40% of the 500 Italians who came to Amsterdam and Rotterdam between 1860 and 1880 was chimney sweep. The chimney sweeps managed to build a monopoly position and were successful in maintaining it for a long time. They not only thanked their success to professional  knowledge, but also to the cheap labour forces they employed. In the chimney sweep industry a 'padronesysteem' was customary. Every chimney sweep recruited young labourers from their own region of origin, mostly during his stay in Italy in the winter. (text from the website Vijf Eeuwen Migratie)