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Women strike for equal pay, 1968 (audio)
Women involved in the strike at the Ford factory in Dagenham, London, in 1968 describe their experiences of the strike which eventually resulted in equal pay legislation. The women describe the level of skill required to be a machinist making the seat covers for cars, entitling them to be graded more highly than the equivalent of the factory sweeper. Industrial relations at Ford were poor, with frequent strikes, but this was the first time that the women had been out on strike. The women describe being on the picket line, stopping the materials being brought in. Eventually the women's strike closed the factory as the cars could not be completed without the seats. The women describe the tensions between the men and striking women - social attitudes were generally against equal and highly skilled pay for women workers. With the support of Barbara Castle, Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity, the women returned to work after promises were made that they would be up-graded. The women describe feeling let down, as they had not achieved their main aim. It took 16 years for machinists to be upgraded, but within two years of the strike equal pay became law. This clip from ‘Witness’ is published on the World Service website: bbc.co.uk/programmes/p004t1hd and was first broadcast on 21 September 2010. Please note this is an audio clip and only available in Flash.
To support topics looking at the changing role of women. Could be used as a carousel activity or as a group activity. The group would have directed questions to act as guidance so that they illicit the pertinent information from the report.
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