Saturday, August 25th marks the end of the 100 year anniversary of the earliest known equal pay strike.
For years this strike has been overlooked until Charly Burridge-Jones (actor and producer) uncovered the story and shared it with Elizabeth Dixon (filmmaker) and Kate Baxter (actor, filmmaker, Five Fifty Five) who are now producing POUND FOR POUND. Scottish Suffragist Mary MacArthur of the strike said in 1918 that it was a “landmark for women's movement and for trade unionism”.
August 1918, London’s cost of living was rising. A group of women from Willesden Bus garage went on strike after being excluded from a 5 shilling a week war bonus given to their male colleagues. POUND FOR POUND is a short film with a feature-length script attached, set in the first 24 hours of the strike. It is written and directed by award-winning writer and director, Elizabeth Dixon.
Helen Pankhurst said: “More than a century ago, suffrage campaigners were very aware of the problem of pay differences and also campaigned on the matter. For example, Emmeline Pankhurst wrote an open letter to the then Chancellor, published in the newspapers in 1915, demanding equal pay for equal work. Many women also took up the battle directly. One of the first recorded strikes in the UK that I came across in my research, and one of the most amazing ones, is the 1918 women bus conductors of Willesden depo. I am delighted that their story will be brought to life in POUND FOR POUND – This will be a chance to share their amazing story and to pay tribute to some of those who took a stand for a struggle that, 100 years later, we are still waging.”
The team are delighted to have also partnered with CARE International, who put women and girls in the centre of their focus believing you can’t overcome poverty until all people have equal rights and opportunities, “it felt like the perfect fit” said Elizabeth Dixon. Film proceeds will go to CARE's causes to improve working conditions for women, and the March4Women.
Elizabeth Dixon, Writer/Director:
“This is a story that is largely absent from our history books. By making this film I want to rectify that and support the current fight for equality we are having today. As we bring their stories out of obscurity they bolster our fight and continue to show us that actions do create change.”
Kate Baxter, Actor/Producer:
“We are thrilled to be a part of this project and are grateful for the team of historians and activists like Helen Pankhurst, as well as the cast and crew that are on board. We find that great content always attracts great creatives, which POUND FOR POUND has.”
Jesse Quinones, Producer:
“This film has the fighting spirit at its core, and that's what is so exciting about it. It embodies the spirit of not sitting back and accepting what you are given. The spirit of fighting for what you believe in. The spirit of equality. Both in its storytelling, and in the manner in which it is made. The story depicts a diverse Britain, the team behind this project does too. With a largely female and minority crew, and with key HOD roles filled by BAME filmmakers, this film proudly announces itself as an example of what celebrating diversity and equality looks and feels like. I'm honoured to be one of the producers on this film and can't wait for you to see it."
Charly Burridge-Jones, Actor/ Producer:
"Over 18000 women went on strike in 1918, and somehow this is still relatively unknown. It’s now 100 years on and there’s still a massive problem with the gender pay gap, and female equality, and so to be able to share these stories now, at this time, feels really important.”
Photo credit: Simon King and Emily Garthwaite