Monday, July 4, 2011

a significant 60s struggle...




ever heard of dagenham? i certainly hadn’t – so i was totally oblivious to the major chapter of herstory written there in 1968…

well, oblivious until yesterday that is, when i watched a 2010 bbc movie – made in dagenham – a dramatization based on the struggle for equal pay and recognition as skilled workers by the female machinists at the dagenham ford factory…




in 1967 england there were effectively four grades of production workers...


the womyn were at the 'bottom of the ladder' and received only 87% of the unskilled male wage... the industry was rolling out a new classification structure which looked like this..

they were expecting recognition of, and proper remuneration for, their skills but when the industry reclassified their positions to an unacceptable category b, rather than the deserved category c (to which their male counterparts with equivalent skills were regraded) it was time to take action… 

machinists voting to strike in 1968



when ford refused to upgrade them, all 187 machinists walked out and stayed out for three weeks... they were joined by the 195 womyn at ford's halewood plant in merseyside, effectively bringing ford 'to their knees'... oh, i forgot to mention they were also fighting a hostile union in collusion with the ford management...




strikers meet with barbara castle


after meeting with barbara castle, then secretary of state for employment & productivity, negotiations resulted in an immediate 5% pay increase, taking them up to 92% of the male rate, rising to the full category b rate the following year... it wasn't the desired outcome of equal pay and recognition, but it was one they were prepared to accept in the interim...





these courageous womyn and their struggle were instrumental in bringing about the united kingdom's equal pay act of 1970... but their fight didn't end there - it took another 16 years to win the regrading!!!

by the way, i enjoyed the film... there are some inaccuracies, and a bit of 'poetic licence' applied... the main character in the movie, rita o'grady, is a composite character - but played well by sally hawkins... bob hoskins also does a good job as the shop steward... there are also a lot of beehives!!!! all in all it's entertaining and informative (and it inspired me to look for more information!!!)


3 comments:

Vexed vegan said...

I'm looking forward to watching this movie.

Thank you for recommending the black raspberry soy melts too - I'm loving them!

Rachael said...

Thank you for dedicating a post to this information. From my knowledge, in the U.S. the gap between women's and men's wages is also wide. Although, I read that the gap has closed a bit from women being paid 75% of men for equal work to 80%.

Proud Womon said...

thanks for your comment Rachael - it encouraged me to check australian figures - according to alliance for equal pay day there's still a 17.2% gender pay gap, rising to over 30% in some industry sectors...

but apparently equal pay day is to be 'celebrated' on september 1 here so you may just have given me some inspiration for post material...