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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 (email@example.com)
Sandie Shaw who sang the film's title song used to work as a punched-card operator in the Ford plant at Dagenham several years before the events depicted in the film. 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 »
I'm Lisa Burnett, I'm 31 years old and I have a first class honours degree from one of the finest universities in the world, and my husband treats me like I'm a fool.
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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 »
After a summer of endless animations and shlock-horror here - at last!
is a film with real heart.
Sally Hawkins is a revelation as Rita who becomes the striking machinists' spokeswoman; her speeches to co-workers, union chiefs, management and the press all start out tremulous and gain in confidence as she hits her stride. Geraldine James who usually plays upper-class ladies (I'm still trying to forgive and forget her breast-feeding David Walliams in Little Britain!) here plays a kind of 'upper-working-class' woman with a husband still shell-shocked from WW2. John Sessions does a Spitting Image turn as Harold Wilson, and Miranda Richardson morphs her Blackadder Elizabeth I into a fiery Barbara Castle (dressed by C&A).
In my Gap Year (date withheld) I worked in a Sussex factory that had a sewing-room. The movie gets the atmosphere exactly right but I don't think working women were quite as free with the f-word back then as they are in this script. The end credits run against pictures of the original Dagenham strikers who all look like clones of Corrie's Ena Sharples and Florrie Linley. Some of the film machinists are more Carnaby Street than Coronation Street, but that's OK. These girls make you laugh, they occasionally bring a lump to your throat, but most of all they make you want to cheer.
A small slice of 1960s history, this film packs a big punch. Do not miss it.
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