Two important test cases regarding equal pay for work of equal value began their long journey through the courts in 1984

Julie Hayward’s Equal Pay for Equal Value Case

Julie Hayward was a cook employed by Cammell Laird, Merseyside, who argued that her work was of equal value to that of a painter, joiner, and thermal insulation engineer employed by the same company.

In 1984 her case was the first equal value application to be referred to an independent expert. The expert agreed, and the tribunal held she should be paid at the same rate as male craft worker, with the pay differential back-dated.

Although the case had been hailed as a victory, Julie Hayward’s employer refused to pay up and said no money was due because her overall work package (including holiday pay, sick pay and meal entitlements) was no less favourable. She returned to the tribunal in 1986 and this time lost the case, with the tribunal agreeing with her employer.

Julie Hayward finally won her back-pay in 1988 on appeal to the House of Lords. Her case had taken 10 years, three tribunals and a further appeal.

Julie Hayward has described her experiences, including the support she received form male colleagues, in the film ‘Cooking Up a Storm’ made for the British TUC oral history archive.


1984 Belfast women cleaners bring equal pay for equal value case

In 1984, five women cleaners at the Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital lodged a claim for equal pay for work of equal value with male groundsmen and porters. They were supported by their union (NUPE, later Unison) and the Equal Opportunities Commission for Northern Ireland (EOCNI), who had been campaigning for an amendment to the equal pay legislation (to bring it in line with the European Equal Treatment Directive). As soon as the Equal Pay Amendment (Northern Ireland) Regulations 1984 came in, they made their claim.

The women’s employers refused the claim, and in 1985 they took the case to an industrial tribunal case, beginning an 11-year battle that they finally won in November 1996.

Nearly 1,000 other Unison members lodged similar cases – these were adjourned awaiting the outcome of the original case.

The women’s story was told in the film Sweeping the Floor: Belfast Women Win Equal Pay, made for the British TUC oral history archive.