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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. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Three of the original Dagenham seamstresses invited Sally Hawkins for tea, prior to the filming, as they wished to inform her properly about mindset behind the strike, that she was set to portray in the film. Hawkins' grandmother also worked as a seamstress, although not at the Dagenham factory. See more »
In the opening titles a caption states that "In 1968 there were 55,000 men employed at Ford's Dagenham Factory", yet in the exchange between Mr Tooley & Barbara Castle, Tooley states that Ford employs 40,000 workers in the whole of the UK. See more »
[Albert is being accused by his union of scuppering other negotiations with management by supporting the women's equal-pay strike]
As a union we have to remember who comes first. The Communist Party. And Marx himself said "Men write their own history". That's "men", Albert.
But didn't he also say "Progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex"? Or was that a different Marx? That was Groucho, was it?
[Bartholomew is lost for words]
Equal pay across the board. You telling me ...
[...] See more »
Captions in the closing credits: "Two years later in May 1970 the Equal Pay Act became law. Similar legislation quickly followed in most industrial countries across the world. Ford Motor Company Limited went on to effect changes in its employment practices and is now used as an example of a good practice employer." See more »
The movie gets to convey the atmosphere of those months in 1968, where 187 women joined together and went on a strike to ask for equal salaries to men, and better conditions of work. We as viewers really feel the cohesion, the solidarity, as well as the tensions of this group. Never pedantic, or too dramatically committed, the movie gets to make the public, mainly the female one, reflect upon the hard struggle women had to face before getting some basic rights, when still actual and necessary is the reflection about today's condition of female workers, when some kind of discrimination is still to be faced. However, the movie proceeds with a soft and entertaining pace, maybe at some points too entertaining, the sparkling character of Rita O'Grady herself was invented in order to make the story more cinematographically involving. No doubt however the cast makes a difference, the actresses offer single heart-felt interpretations, in the same way as the choral shots show intensity and strong emotion.
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