Records of the Equal Pay Campaign Committee

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The archive consists of minutes and agenda of the Equal Pay Campaign Committee (EPCC) Executive Committee (1944-1956), subcommittee (1947-1956) and Milestone Dinner Subcommittee (1955); correspondence and administrative files including press cuttings and newsletters (1943-1956); press cuttings files (1943-1956); Finance files including audit accounts, balance sheets, cash books, correspondence and bank documents (1944-56); Card indexes; rubber stamps; poster; publications of Committee and other groups (1944-1955).

Administrative / Biographical History

The Equal Pay Campaign Committee (1941-1956) (EPCC) was founded in 1941. During the 1920s, a number of women's organisations had begun to campaign for equal pay for women, only for the Depression to see women workers blamed for unemployment amongst men and many trades unions consequently become hostile to the issue. The onset of the Second World War saw this inequality of pay mirrored in the settlements offered by 1941's Personal Injuries (Civilians) Scheme to those rendered unable to work. This scheme was opposed by women's organisations and action was co-ordinated by the National Association of Women Civil servants and the British Federation of Business & Professional Women. A committee was instituted, firstly on an ad-hoc and then a permanent basis, with representatives from the Women Power Committee, The National Association of Women Civil Servants, the British Federation of Business & Professional Women, the National Council of Women, the Women's Publicity Planning Association and later the Women's Freedom League. The chair was Mavis Tate MP. A select committee was subsequently instituted which overturned the existing legislation and resulted in equal compensation rates being paid in 1943. With this achieved, attention was extending the work to equal pay more generally and a new committee was appointed under the title of the Equal Pay Campaign Committee, with a sister branch in Scotland and an attached advisory council. It also was chaired by Tate, who approached the Joint Committee on Women in the Civil Service to provide basic information from which to proceed. The National Association of Women Civil Servants provided accommodation and services for the new committee and the Association's general secretary, Miss Hart, acted as honorary secretary. It quickly instigated parliamentary debates and a Royal Commission on Equal Pay was announced largely due to its efforts.

The Commission's report was issued in Oct 1946 and the Equal Pay Campaign Committee organised publicity and public meetings to support its findings. A meeting was organised in the Public Hall at Westminster with the co-operation of the Status of Women Committee and a national campaign was organised with Nina Popplewell as the new honorary secretary in 1947. The work for the meeting was to be done by a sub-committee established for this role, which eventually took over the running of the group between meetings of the parent committee. The Committee itself was supported by an Advisory Committee that, unlike the parent committee, could have political aims. Consequently, both the Fabian and the Women's Communist Party were invited to join (although the latter later declined). Activities reached a peak during 1948-1949 with publications and a newsletter being created to increase publicity. A film was also made by Jill Craigie on their behalf: 'To Be A Woman', which was screened in 1951. In 1954 an approach was made to the Local Authorities' representatives on the Burnham Committee regarding government pay in public services through which the Committee influenced the final report. This recommended gradual implementation of equal pay in the Civil Service, a move which was accepted by the National Whitley Council and eventually also applied to women teachers. The following year, the committee took the decision to wind up its activities, a process that was completed in Feb 1956.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research. Readers are advised to contact The Women's Library in advance of their first visit.

Acquisition Information

These records were possibly originally part of the records of the National Women Citizens Association. They were found amongst 'unsorted archival miscellany' during the move of the Library, 2002, and formally accessioned, Jul 2003.

Previously catalogued material needs to be checked against the Fawcett Libary Accession Registers.

Other Finding Aids

Fawcett Library Catalogue

Related Material

The Women's Library also holds the records of the constituent members of the Committee and its advisory committee, including the British Federation of Business & Professional Women (5BFW), Association of Moral and Social Hygiene (3AMS), Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries (6AWC), Council of Women Civil servants (6CCS), London & National Society for Women's Service (2LSW) Married Women's association (5MWA), Open Door Council (5ODC), Six Point Group (5SPG), Women's Freedom League (2WFL) and the Fawcett Society (5FAW) are also held by the Women's Library.