Author: Jonathan Moss

This book draws on original research into women’s workplace protest to deliver a new account of working-class women’s political identity and participation in post-war England. In doing so, the book contributes a fresh understanding of the relationship between feminism, workplace activism and trade unionism during the years 1968–85. The study covers a period that has been identified with the ‘zenith’ of trade union militancy. The women’s liberation movement (WLM) also emerged in this period, which produced a shift in public debates about gender roles and relations in the home and the workplace. Industrial disputes involving working-class women have been commonly understood as evidence of women’s growing participation in the labour movement, and as evidence of the influence of second-wave feminism on working-class women’s political consciousness. However, the voices and experiences of female workers who engaged in workplace protest remain largely unexplored. The book addresses this space through detailed analysis of four industrial disputes that were instigated by working-class women. It shows that labour force participation was often experienced or viewed as a claim to political citizenship in late modern England. A combination of oral history and written sources is used to illuminate how everyday experiences of gender and class antagonism shaped working-class women’s political identity and participation.

Jonathan Moss

1 Contextualising women’s workplace activism in post-war England T he growth of women’s employment was one of the most significant social and economic changes in post-war England. But what were the implications of these changes for working-class women’s political identities and sense of self? This chapter provides an overview of how women’s growing presence in the workforce was understood by contemporaries. It demonstrates that female workers, trade unions, social scientists and WLM activists were increasingly drawing public attention to the poor conditions and

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85
The origins of the strike
Jim Phillips

2 Closures and workplace conflict: the origins of the strike The deep roots of the 1984–85 strike were located in the long process of industrial and social restructuring that was examined in the previous chapter. The pressures on Scottish miners arising from this, with increased managerial control in pursuit of cheaper production, intensified further in the early 1980s, and resulted in a sequence of pit-level disputes. These were the more immediate origins of the 1984–85 strike. Miners facing pit closures, and troubled by managerial incursions on established

in Collieries, communities and the miners’ strike in Scotland, 1984–85
Karolina J. Dudek

4 Too much happens in the workplace Karolina J. Dudek In his fascinating book Cubed: A secret history of the workplace (2014), Nikil Saval described how workplaces have changed since the beginning of the twentieth century. With the rise of the clerks’ tribe, they have in fact changed a great deal. As one of the characters in the US film Office space (1999) expressed it: ‘Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day’ (quoted in Saval, 2014: 3). And yet they do. Juriaan van Meel (2000: 25–53) has provided a comparison

in Overwhelmed by overflows?
Abstract only
Jonathan Moss

Introduction B etween 1968 and 1985, thousands of female workers engaged in workplace protest in various public sector and private sector industries across England. This wave of activism occurred in a period often associated with heightened tension in both gender and class relations. The 1970s has been described as the ‘zenith’ of trade union militancy, when over half the labour force was unionised and working days lost to strikes reached record high levels.1 The women’s liberation movement (WLM) also emerged in this period, which produced a shift in public

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85
Jonathan Moss

failure of employers and trade unions to recognise the subjective value of paid work to women persistently characterised the experiences and memories of the workers involved in the case studies that followed. For the women at Ford, the underlying grading grievance and the sense of injustice that led to the 1968 dispute continued to shape their experiences of work and trade unionism for the next seventeen years. This dispute marks an appropriate place to begin to draw some broader conclusions about women’s experiences of workplace activism between 1968 and 1985. The Ford

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85
Jack Saunders

4 Remaking workplace trade unionism, 1968–75 In 1968, Birmingham-born Colin Fitzer came to work at Rover in Solihull. In his previous job, he’d been dismissed from a small cabinet-making firm for arguing with the owner over a wage deduction for absenteeism. The world he would find at Rover would be very different. There the factory was a closed shop, union membership was mandatory, steward representation and well-attended workgroup meetings were normal, and it was rare to be sacked just for arguing with the boss. Moving from a small firm with a weak union, he

in Assembling cultures
Abstract only
Jonathan Moss

Conclusion B y listening to the voices of women who fought for equal pay, skill recognition and the right to work, this book contributes a fresh understanding of the relationship between feminism, workplace activism and trade unionism during the years 1968–85. The industrial disputes analysed in the preceding chapters show that women’s workplace militancy was not simply a direct response to women’s heightened presence in trade unions and second-wave feminism. The women involved in these disputes were more likely to understand their experiences of workplace

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85
Combating discrimination against immigrant workers
Ricard Zapata-Barrero

4 Multiple diversity in the labour market and in the workplace: combating discrimination against immigrant workers Introduction Immigrants’ participation in the labour market is a fairly recent phen­ omenon in Spain. The number of immigrant workers increased from less than 200,000 in 1996 to more than 3,000,000 in 2007 (Ministerio de Trabajo y Asuntos Sociales; MTAS, 2007a). Immigrants are typically employed in areas with a high need for labour, such as construction, agriculture, the hotel business, house keeping and care for the elderly. Immigration is mainly

in Diversity management in Spain
Jonathan Moss

the foundations for something bigger – women starting to play a much fuller part in deciding how their workplace relations were determined.8 From the opposite end of the ideological spectrum, the Daily Mail claimed the women ‘changed the course of British history by going on strike in 1968, demanding the same wages as the men and paving the way for the 1970 Equal Pay Act’.9 Such accounts have failed to consider the impact of the strike upon the sewing machinists themselves. Whilst not necessarily denying the wider impact of the strike, by focusing on how it

in Women, workplace protest and political identity in England, 1968-85