From the inaugural women’s conference in 1943 resolutions were passed on issues concerning women which may have previously gone unaddressed, such as lighter work for women who were pregnant. Although carrying a resolution did not mean that it would automatically be enforced, it no doubt helped raise awareness about the situation faced by many women working within the engineering industry.
The subject of care for the children of working mothers is one that was raised soon after women were admitted to the union in 1943 and would continue to be raised in years to come. There were numerous resolutions passed in favour of state funded nurseries and articles in publications such as The Way in praise of nursery systems in other countries such as the U.S.A.
Though attention was focussed on issues related to working mothers, general safety within the workplace was also a subject of concern. In the 1950s unemployment and trade union membership numbers had been the central issues, but in the 1960s and 1970s safety at work became a priority and this was reflected in the growing number of resolutions passed on this matter.
With such advertising campaigns as ‘Sally Safety’, publications such as The Way tried to put forward individuals who women in the workplace could identify with. This ran alongside repeated calls from the conference for an increase in the number of factory inspectors.
The resolutions passed by the women’s conference and the articles that appear in The Way in the late 1960s show a growing concern with sexual and racial discrimination. This, along with calls for more action on health issues such as compulsory radiography, illustrates the commitment of women members of the A.E.U to improve the conditions for all workers within the engineering industry.
The broad nature of resolutions passed at the women’s conferences demonstrates that women delegates felt able to comment on any trade union issues with which they were concerned, not restricting their involvement to matters relating just to women.