Forty years ago this week a strike for better pay by women machinists at Ford’s Dagenham plant began. Their fight thrust women’s demands for equal pay with men to the centre stage.
The arguments for equal pay that union steward Rose Boland made in an interview with Socialist Worker in 1968 (see » An inspiring demand for women’s rights) cannot be refuted. But today we are still far from achieving goals that were set out then.
Women working full time are currently paid, on average, 87.4 percent of men’s hourly pay. But as four times more women than men work part time, which is notoriously more low paid than full time work, the pay gap between men and women is even greater.
The continuing gap shows how sexism is structured into capitalist society. It will take more of the kind of struggles seen at Ford’s 40 years ago to end it.