Dorothy Ratcliffe and Susan Crosby

Equal pay in Yorkshire school canteens

When North Yorkshire County Council put their school meals service out to tender in the late eighties they didn’t bank on a legal case that would last for years and go as far as the House of Lords. The company that won the contract made the ‘dinner ladies’ redundant and reemployed them on less pay and reduced benefits. Supported by UNISON, the women argued that they were being discriminated against because other local government manual workers where roles were predominantly filled by men had not seen a wage reduction. Eventually the House of Lords ruled in their favour and 1,300 women – including Dorothy Ratcliffe and Susan Crosby – received up to £1,600 each in back pay.