This was followed by other strikes over equal pay across the country and to renewed trade union support and campaigning on this issue. These campaigns led to the passage of the Equal Pay Act (1970), which applied to the public and private sectors where men and women were engaged in the same or broadly similar work. Migrant workers in the UK labour market: 1946-1970 TUC Collections, London Metropolitan University From the 1950s onwards, due to the labour shortages following WWII, the UK government encouraged the immigration of migrant workers to rebuild Britain and service the newly created NHS . While more men than women migrated in the earlier years, from the late 1960s, there were significant numbers of women who migrated to join their families settled in the UK . Many of these women worked in the health service but, like women from all ethnic backgrounds, were more likely than men to be engaged in repetitive jobs which were poorly paid and had little prospect of promotion. Even where migrant women were educated in English and held professional qualifications, they found that only low-paid, unskilled jobs were open to them. In those days, there were occasions when trade unions colluded with the management to maintain differential wages between men and women , and between white and non-white workers. In 1963, Bristol Omnibus Company, supported by the local Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) branch, refused to employ black or Asian bus crews. At this, the local black communities boycotted bus services for four months until the company backed down and overturned the ‘colour bar’ . Similarly, a strike by black workers took place at Courtauld's Red Scar Mill, Preston, when the management forced Asian workers to work more machines for less pay, with
the collusion of white workers and their union. Such attitudes by trade unions of the day meant that migrant women workers were disadvantaged in the labour market both because they were women and also because they were immigrants. After undertaking the activities within this section, students will be able to: The August 1951 issue of 'Red Tape', the journal of the Civil Service Clerical Association, reports of a mass meeting on equal pay in London. The Dagenham women machinists sewed seat covers for the cars produced by a Ford Motor Company plant. As part of a re-grading exercise in 1968, these women machinists were graded as unskilled workers whereas men who did the same level of work were placed in the semi-skilled grade. The women also received less pay than the men who swept the factory floors, and were considered unskilled workers. At that time it was common practice for companies to pay women less than men, irrespective of the skills involved.