Sunday 23 April 2023

Standing on the shoulders of giants - the women who stormed the Grill Bar

The Grill Bar in Union Street commemorated the day 50 years ago when women delegates attending the STUC Congress in Aberdeen stormed the bar - then a men only pub - demanding their right to be served.

Police were called to the pub and the incident made national headlines. Two years later, a law banning pubs from refusing to serve women was passed. However, it wasn't until 1998, following further protests, that The Grill installed a ladies' toilet.

The event, organised by Aberdeen Trades Union Council, took place on Wednesday 19 April when ATUC delegates Laura McDonald and Kathleen Kennedy unveiled a picture frame of the three Daily Record photographs of the 1973 protest by women attending the STUC Congress in Aberdeen.

The unveiling took place in the presence of trade unionists, the proprietor, staff and patrons of The Grill Bar.

Although unable to attend, STUC General Secretary, Roz Foyer sent the following message:

"My apologies for not being able to attend in person this evening as you all commemorate the brave stand taken by female STUC delegates to be treated as equals in the Grill Bar on this day 50 years ago.

"I would like to extend my warm wishes and solidarity on this 50th anniversary of the storming of the Grill Bar in Aberdeen.

"I am immensely proud that it was female STUC delegates who thundered through the front door of the Grill Bar demanding to be served as equals.  This is what the women in our Trade Union movement are all about: being brave, standing up to blatant sexism and winning together.

"These women are a credit to our Trade Union movement.

"I have no doubt that these women, alongside many others in our Trade Union movement, pushed the UK Parliament to pass the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 that revoked the barring of women in pubs.

"We truly stand on the shoulders of giants as we continue to push back against all forms of discrimination."

Changed days as women now work in the Grill Bar