I’m currently working through folders relating to some very clever NUWT campaigns for equal pay. The National Union of Teachers at this time never took a stand on equal pay, alluding to it in round-about ways but never in those exact words. So, fed up with this approach the NUWT decided the time had come to publicly confront the NUT. Their strategy was to hold intensive ‘Equal Pay for Equal Work’ campaigns during the length of the NUT Annual Conference. They set up a committee room, went out bill board posting, had poster campaigns where the women would parade around the town with sandwich boards on, they had cars decorated with equal pay slogans which would drive round the town and they tried to encourage NUT members to engage in debate about the merits of equal pay. How successful this was, or otherwise, I have yet to discover, but the tactics sounds like pretty good marketing skills to me!
The folder I’m cataloguing today relates to the first such campaign, in 1937. [ To give some context to this, many NUWT members were also members of the NUT, and within the NUWT there were women of all political hues, united in their belief in Equal Pay but maybe differing wildly on other political points.] So, for this first campaign, the members of Central Council who thought up the idea decided it had to be kept ‘strictly confidential’ to being with. Reading between the lines of the letters what this seems to mean is that instead of the usual method of sending out Circular letters they would have to target individuals who they knew would approve of the campaign, and I guess excluding all members who were also part of the NUT. This leads to lots of strange comments referring to ‘you know who’ ‘I’m sure you know who I’m referring to’ etc. One of the best is in a cover letter sent with a report written up after the campaign (unfortunately the report is no longer with the letter). The letter writer says ‘One or two incidents I have omitted shall be sent to you in due course. One of these I know you would not wish to publish’ – oh where oh where is the report! What happened, did someone defect to the NUT? did someone pull down Equal Pay campaign posters? did someone get outrageously drunk and embarrass the campaign? If I find the report I shall let you know!
I just found another fun record of responses from NUT delegates to the NUWT women handing out leaflets ‘We have met with some very strange receptions when giving leaflets to NUT delegates. One women told us she was absolutely ashamed of us! and another man took a leaflet for his lady friend (who, by the way had just refused it) saying ‘it will do her good!”
NUWT Equal Pay campaign ‘to get public, press and NUT talking Equal Pay and to put ‘Equal Pay’ on the map’
For more news from the NUWT Archive I wrote a few posts last week on over at the NUWT blog: