A strike for equality


During the Second World War women were called upon to fill the factory jobs left vacant by men who had enlisted in the armed forces. Their role became vital in ensuring that factories continued to operate and produce goods and materials essential for the war effort.

While women were expected to fill positions previously held by men, usually the pay was only about half the wages paid to men. In January 1942 forty women working in the shoe cutting department of Dunlop’s factory at Drummoyne went on strike for equal pay. They were amongst the pioneers of the movement for equal pay for women. The men had been paid £4 19 shillings 6 pence per week while the women were only receiving £2 14 shillings per week, with one junior female receiving just 26 shillings for her week’s work. The strike was ‘settled’ by a lift in wages, however, the women still only received 84 per cent of the male rate of pay.

In 1977 Dunlop closed its factory at Birkenhead Point and the site was redeveloped as Birkenhead Point Shopping Centre which opened for trading in 1979. Read more about the story of Dunlop at Birkenhead Point, below, under comments.

Posted on March 6, 2017, in Drummoyne and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Dunlop and Birkenhead Point

    In 1885 Henry Perdriau began manufacturing rubber goods, opening an extensive plant at Birkenhead, as the area was known. By the late 1880s Perdriau & Co. were agents for overseas rubber companies and conducted an international trade in rubber goods.

    In 1904 Perdriau Rubber Co. Ltd was founded and the company boomed, producing tyres when the motor car was introduced to Australia. In 1928-1929 the company amalgamated with the Dunlop Rubber Co. of Australasia Ltd and Henry Perdriau became Director of Dunlop-Perdriau Rubber Co. Ltd. In 1941 the company’s name was changed to Dunlop Rubber Australia Ltd.

    According to Saga of Sydney by Frank Clune (1961) the factory made ‘tyres, tubes, garden and industrial hose, battery cases, industrial goods and waterproof sheeting. The buildings have twelve acres [4.85 hectares] of ground space and … 1,600 workers on its payroll.’ Footwear, which was being made at the factory in the 1940s, had by that time moved to a separate factory at Bankstown.

    In 1977 Dunlop ceased all operations at Birkenhead Point. The company relocated to Melbourne as the cost of redeveloping the badly out-dated buildings was prohibitive.

    After Dunlop left the site there were proposals to develop it as a large shopping centre. This lead to local protests and a call for Birkenhead Point to be designated open space. These protests were unsuccessful and the land was redeveloped as a major shopping mall which opened for trading in 1979.

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