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|First appearance||18th November 1974|
|Last appearance||27th November 1974|
|Number of appearances||4|
|Played by||Gwen Harris|
Ethel Fox was a member of the Mark Brittain Warehouse workforce who lost her job when a new management policy enforcing mandatory retirement at sixty was introduced in 1974. Before that, the bosses had been happy for the ladies to stay on as long as they wanted but due to a cut-back in orders, they had to lose some of the labour force and chose mandatory retirement over sackings.
The decision was made by Sir Julius Berlin but it fell to personnel manager Edward Pollard and executive administrative assistant Ken Barlow to smooth it over with the girls. The staff immediately complained, with Ivy Tilsley bringing sixty-plus Ethel and Flo Broadbent into Ken's office to put their cases to him. An elderly, white-haired woman, Ethel told Ken that she was a widow-woman and wouldn't know what to do with herself if she had to retire. Ken agreed to have a word with personnel but warned the ladies that nothing was likely to come of it.
Some time later, they met with Ken and Pollard, who gave a fuller explanation of the reasons for the decision. Unsatisfied, Ivy decided to call in the union, but this too failed to get results as union rep Peggy Barton told Ivy that the union had been pushing for a lower retirement age for a while. Sympathetic, Ken made a suggestion which satisfied all parties: the women could be kept 'on call' to fill in in emergencies, to which Sir Julius agreed. In gratitude, Flo and Ethel bought Ken some cufflinks.