Whileequal pay has a somewhat short legislative history, the conception that womenshould collect equal pay for work of value equal to the work of the oppositesex has much earlier roots. One example is the ‘match girls’ of Bryant and May whoinsisted equal pay for equal value for work back in 1888, initiating an early instanceof strike action by female labour in the UK. Other female workers at the Bryantand May factory had responded to the dismissing of their co-workers by refusingto work under terms of employment that stated inferior pay than their male colleagues.While this industrial action was successful, and headed to the creation of the TradesUnions Congress, passing a resolution in favour of the standard of equal payfor women, legislation in the UK that would inhibit such discriminatorypractices wouldn’t materialise until an entire century later.

Thefirst piece of gender specific legislation related to employment was the Sex Disqualification(Removal) Act, enforced in 1919 which made it illegal for women to be deniedaccess to a congregation of occupations and professions on the foundations oftheir sex and marital status. Although this legislation was welcomed by equalrights advocates, its practical results were insignificant. It wasn’t untilthe post-war period that substantial procedures of rectification were discussed,legislated and applied so that women’s place in the workplace was started tobecome realised.


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