Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Minimum Wage for Women

From the Huddersfield Examiner, 14th October 1914.



A meeting of women called by the East London Federation of Suffragettes passed a resolution at the Canning Town Public Hall last night demanding “in all works subsidised by public funds” a minimum wage of 6d. an hour or £1 a week, and that the same standard should apply to all future Government contracts.

Miss Sylvia Pankhurst said she knew of two cases of Government sub-contractors who were paying their women 2½d. and 3d. an hour, and it was perfectly infamous that they should make money out of the war in such a way.  With regard to the proposed maximum payment of 10s. a week to women in workrooms supported by the Queen’s Fund, she said she would not like to see women sign on and then strike for a living wage.  “Let’s get it altered,” she exclaimed.  “I don’t mind going to gaol again if it is necessary.”

Mrs. Deppard said to give 10s. a week as a living wage and call it charity was perfectly abominable.  She thought it would have been a glorious thing if the Queen’s Work for Women Fund had started by saying “We must and shall give a living wage.”  It was absolutely impossible for a woman in London – considering the increase in the price of food – to live decently on 10s. a week.

[In the same issue of the Examiner, it was reported that the contributions to the Queen’s “Work for Women” Fund to date amounted to £72,498.  This is a remarkable amount, considering that the Fund had only been launched on 4th September, and it does seem that the Fund could well afford to  pay £1 a week.

It seems odd that almost the first step in Sylvia Pankhurst's negotiating plan is to get sent to gaol (presumably doing something illegal to warrant it first).  You would think that that should be a last resort.] 

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