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Collection highlights: Equal Pay plate

Equal Pay plate

This commemorative plate was issued in recognition of the Ford sewing machinists’ historic contribution to the advancement of women’s rights in the workplace.

Back of Equal Pay plateIn May 1968 the sewing machinists went on strike for skill recognition, upgrading and equal pay.  At the time women at Ford only received 80% of the male rate of pay. After the dispute had lasted three weeks, a committee of sewing machinists entered negotiations  with Employment Minister Barbara Castle. The workers secured a historic settlement which brought about equal pay for women at Ford and the passage of the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

However, it took a further 17 years and another six-week strike in November 1984 before the sewing machinists secured final victory and won upgrading and skill recognition based on the principle of ‘equal pay for work of equal value’. This now serves as a model for others to follow.Equal Pay plate

The dispute was made the subject of the 2010 film, Made in Dagenham starring Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson.

This was the most important industrial struggle by a group of British women since the Bryant and May Matchgirls’ Strike of 1888, which you can find out more about on our main galleries.


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