In this film you can see Julie Hayward talk about her experience of taking her fight to get her work valued as equal to men's to court. Her memories of the great support she received from the men with whom she worked are particularly striking.
What did the Equal Pay Act mean?
In theory the Equal Pay Act eliminated women's lower rates of pay by 1975, the deadline for employers to have responded to it. But some employers got round the legislation by, for example, raising women's wages to the lowest male rate, even when the women's jobs were more demanding than the men's, or by creating different job titles for women. Today, the continued inequality in women and men's pay is largely due to the wider context of 'gender-segregated' work patterns rather than outright discrimination.
This context underlay the crucial second step in the battle for women's employment parity, which was to get their skills recognised as having 'equal value'. This battle has largely been pursued through working women taking their cases to tribunals and courts, with the support of their trade unions. The European Court of Justice has also been helpful. In 1982 it ruled in favour of the European Commission in proceedings against the UK for failure to secure equal pay for work of equal value. The UK was obliged to amend the Equal Pay Act to include an equal value claim and did so, although reluctantly.
Julie Hayward's fight
In 1984, Julie Hayward, who was working as a cook in a shipyard in Birkenhead, launched what was to become the first successful British case in claiming equal pay for work of equal value. Julie Hayward's argument was that her work as a cook should be rewarded equally to her male colleagues who were shipboard craftsmen, a shipboard painter, a joiner and a thermal insulation engineer. The case, Hayward v Cammell Laird, took years but in 1988, the Independent Expert appointed to the tribunal concluded that Julie's catering qualifications were equivalent to the men's craft qualifications and said other aspects of their work, including responsibilities, knowledge and physical demands, were also equivalent. This meant, finally, she received equal pay.
This film was made as part of Winning Equal Pay: the value of women’s work by the Trade Union Congress in partnership with London Metropolitan University. This version is 37 minutes long but you can find a shorter edit, as well as more details about Julie's case, and the voices of other women who stood up for equal pay, on the TUC website.
Directors: Jenny Morgan, Jo Morris, Sarah Boston