Film ID: NEFA 9090 Video of NEFA 9090 Access - Working Women (1975) DB132 ACCESS: WORKING WOMEN 1975 Visitor TabsDescription This edition of the Tyne Tees Television programme 'Access' looks at the pay and conditions of women who go out to work to supplement the family income. In order to organise themselves a group of women are trying to establish a working women's charter group at their place of work. They make representations to their union, who initially are unsympathetic. The film also includes interviews with women who are trying to find jobs with good pay that will fit around family commitments. The film opens on a woman pushing two children in a push chair while holding the hand of another as they walk along the pavement. The film cuts to another woman pushing a push chair across a back lane behind some terraced houses, she passes by a supermarket. The commentary states that it is 1975, International Women's Year. Another woman with a push chair crosses a busy road. A road sign on the wall says St. Georges Terrace (Jesmond, Newcastle?). The film cuts to a group consisting of one older woman and three younger girls walking towards the camera along the pavement. The older woman is the presenter of this film and speaks to the camera about women's struggle for equality in the workplace. Some old still illustrations follow showing women working on farms alongside men. The older woman describes how the nature of the work became more divided after the industrial revolution. The film cuts to a young woman putting money into a telephone in a telephone kiosk. She is trying to find work and is arranging an interview. She exits the kiosk with a small child. Another child sits patiently in a push chair outside the kiosk. The older woman seen earlier asks her about her job prospects and how the children might be looked after. The film cuts to a nursery school where children are playing at hospitals, dressed as patients and nurses. The film cuts to a play group where mothers play with the children and look after babies. The next shot is of a woman, who is a child minder supervising young children playing with a number of puzzles. The film cuts back briefly to the young woman who was in the the telephone kiosk. The film then cuts to show a Job Centre sign. A young woman hand in hand with her children looks at the jobs on offer in the window. The camera slowly zooms in on the woman and her children. A close up of the vacancies in the window shows the cards on display. A close up of the woman and childs face follows taken from inside the job centre looking out. A close up of a vacancy card, shows an advert for a shop manageress. This cuts to a shot of six or so cards together on display. The older woman interviews the young woman and queries her about her work aspirations. She complains that most of the jobs on offer are for a limited number of hours. The film cuts to a long shot of a woman walking on a pavement towards the camera. The commentary states that Flexitime is now being offered in some workplaces. The camera pulls back to show the word 'Out' on a brick gatepost with a large office building in the background. This is probably the D.H.S.S. office at Longbenton in Newcastle. The film then cuts to an artist face painting a group of young girls.This sequence shows other artists and actors entertaining children during the school holidays. A face painter applies red paint to the faces of some youngsters. The film cuts back to the Job Centre and the woman seen earlier. She is then seen ringing a wet cloth into a bucket, then scrubbing the floor of an office with a stiff brush. An overhead shot shows her scrubbing the floor. The film cuts to a nurse walking along a pavement near to hospital buildings. She explains to the older woman her aspirations in organising a balance between home and work. The film cuts to an internal shot of the nurse at work with a colleague checking on medicines for patients (?) the nurse checks a ledger while her colleague looks on. A close up follows of the nurse studying the ledger. The film cuts back to the older woman and her daughters crossing the road towards the camera. She says goodbye to one of the girls, and then the remaining three turn and go back up the road. The film cuts to a bus stop where the trio wait to catch a bus. A bus marked 'Cleadon' pulls up at the stop and they gets on. The older woman leaves the bus and the film cuts to a shop front with a sign above it that says 'The Dairy'. The camera pans right to the shop entrance and the older woman leaving the shop. She pauses to put a newly purchased loaf of bread or cake into her shopping bag. She checks her watch. The film cuts to her place of work, which is at a hospital checking and folding bed linen on a trolley. A nurse comes over and speaks with her. She continues with her work folding the bed linen. The nurse leaves, and a close up follows of the the woman continuing to fold bed linen. The film cuts to a notice board, with a notice for a meeting with the working women's charter group and trade union representatives. The woman is seen looks at the notice. The film cuts to meeting room where a man addresses the meeting of the women's group, and trade union members. Three women represent the women's working charter group including the older woman. The women state their case strongly to the chairman outlining the varying reasons why women look for work. A brief close up of one of the trade union men listening to the proceedings. The chairman of the meeting states that any grievances the women may have, will need support of the trade union. The women point out that other commitments outside of work might restrict attendance at union meetings and their union membership. A long shot follows of the older woman walking down a street towards the camera. She is walking home with her shopping. She walks up the garden path of her house and into her home. The film cuts to the kitchen where her family are sitting around a table. Her husband is cooking at the stove, with his back towards the camera as she enters the kitchen and puts her shopping on the table. One of her daughters helps empty the shopping bag. The woman turns to the kitchen sink to dry some dishes. She sums up the message of the programme and talks directly to the camera. She outlines the aspirations of the Working Women's Charter Group, to work as one with the trade union in any negotiations with management. She goes back to to drying dishes while talking with her family. Context A rare chance to see how the rise of feminism in the 1970s related to working class women, who formed local groups to campaign for the Working Women's Charter in 1974-75. This programme was made by Tyne Tees Television who placed regional coverage of news, sport and current affairs at the heart of the station’s activities. In 1973, an innovative investigative series called Access was aired. Local community groups with something to say, for example, the group critical of the rebuilding of Newcastle’s City centre, or in this case the equality of women, were given the facilities to put their own case on film. Film crews and expert advice were provided, but the groups devised the film and wrote the words to put their own case exactly as they saw it. In the interests of fairness and, of course, good television different views and voices were also entitled to challenge that film version and debate the points made in it. This resulted in a two-part programme, one part the case made on film, the second a discussion of the filmed case. The result was some locally driven and relevant television which has added a further dimension to existing regional current affairs coverage. Here access was given to women in Newcastle to eloquently state their demands for equality, and what that entailed, such as nurseries, changes to the law and significantly changing the attitudes of male trade unionists, seen here confronted by some forceful women of all ages. If the 1960s was a period of the development of consciousness-raising women's groups, with the notion of sisterhood and a common struggle against men's power, the 70’s saw the proliferation of women's groups campaigning on major issues such as inequalities and discrimination at work that historically affected women. The Equal Pay Act 1970 was the first piece of UK legislation, which enshrined the right to pay equality between women and men, setting out that an individual can claim equal pay when work is the same or broadly similar, regardless of whether the job title is the same. However progress was slow and in 1974 the Working Women’s Charter was launched by the London Trades Council with local charter campaign groups established around the country. Importantly it set out to change a male dominated culture and not just change the law. From the very beginning, it tried to bring the very different needs of very different groups of women workers under one banner: the needs of those women aspiring into the higher professions and the needs of the women in shops, offices, assembly lines and more. The Charter had ten points, relating to equal pay, conditions and opportunities and legal rights, a demand for free childcare and nursery provision, free contraception and abortion, maternity leave and job security for women returning from maternity leave. Finally, it called for more women in public and political life. At its height it had 27 groups across the UK and was supported by 12 national unions, 55 trade union branches, 37 trade councils and 85 other organizations. The Charter was much debated. Its cause wasn’t helped, however, by its rejection by the Trades Union Congress – at its 1975 conference. TUC delegates opposed the idea of a women’s minimum wage as a route to equal pay and did not want to address abortion. They also argued that the TUC’s own 12 point charter covered much of the same ground. In the film Working Women, we see clear examples of the dilemmas of women who attempted to find jobs. Economic issues, a rapidly changing social arena and shifting cultural values were competing, but for women they were inextricably intertwined. As we see in this film, women were articulate and challenged the cultural assumptions, their life opportunities and their relationship with men and patriarchal power. However, the reality was that many women often had to combine work with ongoing household and child caring commitments, which then necessitated part-time or flexible working. However, their opportunities were further constrained by the lack of flexible or part-time roles available and many women often found themselves in low paid or unskilled work. If they did find full time employment they were also constrained by the lack of nursery places. Interestingly when women were indispensable for working on the land and in armament factories during the Second World War, day nurseries were an important facility offered to them. Britain’s wartime women gained a new sense of power, yet post war they were quickly ushered back into the home and nursery places closed. Nearly 45 years after Sheena Jones was training to be a nurse and juggling family life with work life, 89 per cent of nurses and health visitors are women, and the whole NHS workforce is around 77 per cent female. In Newcastle 6467 places are available on a range of days and there is a 30 hour entitlement to childcare for some pre-school children. Women continue to campaign for social justice and equality and yet despite important gains in women’s rights, in 2019, there is still a gender imbalance in the positioning of women in key roles in our work-based society.