Friday 29th May 2020 marked 50 years since a Labour Government passed the Equal Pay Act, outlawing workplace pay discrimination.
This came about as a result of women uniting in their workplaces, organising through their trade unions to demand equal pay and forcing the issue onto the political agenda. The trigger for the passage of the Equal Pay Act was the 1968 strike at the Ford factory in Dagenham, in which 850 female sewing machinists went on a lengthy strike because they were paid 15% less than their male colleagues, despite doing the same work.
However, 50 years, pay discrimination and the pay gap are still a reality. The UK’s overall median gender pay gap is still 17.3%.
This issue is more pressing than ever as, unless we fight to prevent it, one of the economic effects of the pandemic will be an increase in the gender pay gap. 77% of those in key worker roles are women.
Women need strong trade unions AND a Labour Government to organise in workplaces and to take the national action we need to win equal pay once and for all.