Made in Dagenham (2010)

1968. It's a man's world. But not for long...

Blu-ray, 1h 53min
Rating: 7.2
Votes: 13517
Languages: English
Country: UK
Director: Nigel Cole
Writer: William Ivory
Music: David Arnold

Plot outline

A dramatization of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination.

Personal notes

345

Cast

Plots

A dramatization of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination. - Anonymous

In 1968, the Ford auto factory in Dagenham was one of the largest single private employers in the United Kingdom. In addition to the thousands of male employees, there are also 187 underpaid women machinists who primarily assemble the car seat upholstery in poor working conditions. Dissatisfied, the women, represented by the shop steward and Rita O'Grady, work with union rep Albert Passingham for a better deal. However, Rita learns that there is a larger issue in this dispute considering that women are paid an appalling fraction of the men's wages for the same work across the board on the sole basis of their sex. Refusing to tolerate this inequality any longer, O'Grady leads a strike by her fellow machinists for equal pay for equal work. What follows would test the patience of all involved in a grinding labour and political struggle that ultimately would advance the cause of women's rights around the world. - Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

In 1968, the women at the Ford auto plant in Dagenham, England go on strike. As sewing machine operators making the coverings for car seats, their jobs have been reclassified from semi-skilled to unskilled. A friendly shop steward, Albert Passingham, tells strike leader Rita O'Grady that this isn't about whether they are skilled or not. They're getting paid less because they are women and unless they change things, they will always make less than the men do. The women walk off the job and eventually the plant runs out of car seats with the entire plant shutting down. With the men now out of work it's left to Rita to convince them they need the support of all workers to succeed. The intervention of a senior government Minister who takes up their cause despite a heavy-handed response from Ford clears the way for a solution and leads to legislation on equal pay for work of equal value. Based on a true story. - garykmcd

1968. The one hundred eighty-seven women machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England, long filed a grievance against the company to have their jobs classified as semi-skilled as opposed to unskilled, their job to sew the seat covers for the vehicles manufactured. They are the only women working at the plant, compared to the fifty-five thousand men. With the company refusing to negotiate, the machinists, supported by their local union representative Albert Passingham, take job action, including refusal to do any overtime, and a twenty-four hour strike. It isn't until after this job action occurs that the machinists discover that the job classification is not the issue, but rather Ford's unwillingness to pay them equal to the other unionized employees solely because they are women. As such, the fight becomes a broader one of equal pay for equal work. Emerging as the primary voice of the machinists is Rita O'Grady, who had no interest previously or history of labor activism. Ultimately, the machinists take full blown action in walking off the job, they expecting the support they have previously provided to their male colleagues to be reciprocated in respecting the strike. The women will find that they have an uphill battle in their fight. Ford managers on both sides of the Atlantic refuse to give in to any such demands secretly seeing doing so as a dangerous precedent in having to pay all women in the company equally. Many of the male union members don't support the strike seeing their jobs as being more important if only because they are generally the household breadwinner. Beyond Albert, the machinists' own union managers, their representative being Monty Taylor, provide little support in seeing the fight for their male members more important, and they protecting their own perks funded largely by union membership dues. There may cracks within the ranks of the female machinists themselves based on how the strike affects their individual situations, including within Rita's own family. And if it does become a broader policy issue beyond Ford, the British government has to balance the importance of Ford to their economy against the fact that they campaigned on equality to get into power. Although the new Secretary of State for Employment, Barbara Castle, supports the notion of equality, her first job as she sees it is to ensure economic stability which means keeping Ford happy. - Barbara Castle