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The Winter of DiscontentMyth, Memory, and History$
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Tara Martin López

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380291

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380291.001.0001

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Unseemly Behaviour:Women and Local Authority Strikes

Unseemly Behaviour:Women and Local Authority Strikes

(p.129) 6 Unseemly Behaviour:Women and Local Authority Strikes
The Winter of Discontent

Tara Martin López

Liverpool University Press

The chapter details the crucial role women played in the local authority strikes of the Winter of Discontent. The chapter examines the numeric dominance of women in public sector work and trade unions and the efforts of trade unions like the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) employed to mobilize the leadership of their female lay majority. The chapter then follows how national leaders in NUPE, like Linda Perks, utilized ideas from the New Left and the Women’s Movement to reshape the focus and trajectory of the trade union movement in the 1970s. More importantly, the chapter follows the politicization of grassroots activists like Betty Hughes and Anne Gardiner to see how these women infused the gendered politics of domestic violence, single motherhood, and sexism into long-standing labour politics. Finally, the chapter argues that the Winter of Discontent provided crucial opportunities for some women like Perks, Hughes, and Gardiner to assert unprecedented leadership roles in the trade union movement.

Keywords:   Winter of Discontent, women, public sector unions, National Union of Public Employees (NUPE), trade union movement, Women’s Movement, New Left, sexism

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