In other words they got fed up with being put off and they decided there was only one way - to take action. And the women's confidence had grown so much that during the meeting shop steward Rosie Boland raised the issue of equal pay for the first time. So we gave advice, and I think we gave advice correctly, that it was time to dig in, and dig in they did. To get the job you needed the skills to do it, but you were classed as unskilled. The foreladies were saying, "Eileen, take that hat off! Did you picket and visit other workers to get support? Here we had women fighting for their right to equal pay. The female machinists, who stitched the materials required to make Ford's car and van seats, were classified within the company pay structure as grade B. They had to get people to do evaluations on different jobs.
The women faced two initial problems: And why does living and working in a society in which women are treated as second class citizens justify the continuing treatment of them as such? From Grunwick in , to Lee Jeans in Greenock in , to Timex in Dundee in , to nursery nurses in Scotland in and Chemilines in London in , it is not hard to find plentiful examples of women at the forefront of this battle. He could have treated other women like it, and it's not on. If you're wrong you've got to back away. We had two or three votes and convenors had been down to the company management to put our case but they weren't interested. Did you picket and visit other workers to get support? And its cast is uniformly brilliant. Ford's tried to fetch work in on the railway. We were always in and out for this department or that. We'd have paid him. So we gave advice, and I think we gave advice correctly, that it was time to dig in, and dig in they did. In the years that followed, women's trade union membership soared and the Equal Pay Act was introduced in Made in Dagenham is reviewed in this month's Socialist Review. Strikes inevitably involve making short-term sacrifices for winning longer-term goals. And surely one of these should be that men and women are paid the same wage for doing the same job. The AEF engineering union executive supported it as a strike for equal pay but refused to fight over the grading grievance. Their fight was to be acknowledged as skilled or grade C, and Davis explains exactly how high the standards were. Why is it there if people don't take any notice of it? The three women are reminiscing about the 45th anniversary of female Ford sewing machinists going on strike on 7 June in protest at their jobs being classified as unskilled - a story that inspired the film Made in Dagenham, starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson. It's good that they do mention that the women came out originally for recognition of their skill. In other words they got fed up with being put off and they decided there was only one way - to take action. You just come up here unannounced and I've got to see you. Were you surprised when Rosie Boland raised the question of equal pay during that famous tea party with Barbara Castle? Rita summed up the best of what the collective spirit of the women strikers was. That's where you're strong because you all stick together.
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