Five Peterborough women changed British society... we need more of them now

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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Twenty-five years ago after an epic battle five Peterborough women secured a momentous court victory that changed British society.

The Freemans Five, led by Irene Pickstone from Stanground, were all warehouse workers at one of Peterborough’s biggest employers.

They were paid less than men doing the same job.

They decided that was a wrong that needed righting and after a long fight they emerged victorious.

Their struggle has been immortalised by local theatre company Eastern Angles in a community play entitled All Wrapped Up In Westwood. The women’s story will get a fresh look at a special presentation at Peterborough Town Hall (see Go page 50 for details) on Saturday as part of Peterborough Women’s Festival.

The organisers hope Irene will be able to attend. Women (and men) across the country have much to be grateful for to Irene and her friends.

I wonder what they think about today’s gender pay gap and the 18.4 % difference between average hourly earnings for men and women?

The pay gap is different to what the Freemans workers fought for which was equal pay for equal work.

Simplified the pay gap highlights how the boys get the top jobs. It is a more subtle and insidious discrimination even than that faced by Irene and her friends.

And it will take another epic battle to right this wrong.