In the 1960s the British economy relied heavily on car production as one of its main industries. There were several British car-makers, such as Austin, Morris, MG, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Lotus, but the American Ford company also had several factories in the UK, including one at Dagenham in Essex. Many women were employed there, mainly as ‘machinists’, whose job it was to make the car seat covers for the Escort or the Cortina, popular Ford models at that time. The women were dissatisfied with their rates of pay compared with those of the male workers and so went on strike, with the support of their Trades Union.
Made in Dagenham is an important film as it is probably the first to focus on a women‘s strike. These machinists’ strike at the Ford factory and their efforts to make their case all the way up from their local union representatives to the Minister for Employment herself, Barbara Castle, make an inspiring story – and one which had a significant impact. Their joint actions led to the passing through Parliament of the Equal Pay Act in 1970. The film helps to ensure that the background, the spirit and the determination of the women leading the strike will not be forgotten.
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