Made in Dagenham
The film “Made in Dagenham” directed by Nigel Cole is based on a true story but is not completely accurate with politically history. East London, Essex, on June 8 1968, 187 women machinist’s workers when on strike for equality. They went on strike for three weeks, the ford plant at which they worked at had to stop production, of the product due to the lack of sew seats. They were successful in getting rid of their lower rates of pay. It was only when Barbara Castle the employment minister came in to negotiate a settlement. In a result of the strike the equal pay act of 1970 was made, but was effective in 1975. This film shows the struggle of machinists during this time.
Who were the women?
The women were highly skilled in certain area. Which was one of the most important parts to the vehicle because that’s what the custom saw and felt before buying the car. The women weren’t actually feminists to the extreme of what society see feminists in; they just wanted recognition for what they did. They just wanted justice for labor they were doing. They would do up to 30 seats an hour, they were watched and timed they did it. Sew fords seats was not an easy task.
Conditions that they work in
The women put up with harsh working conditions. They’d worked in an aircraft hanger with holes in the roof, which they to stuff to keep warm. The bricks were also filled with asbestos. They didn’t stripped down like in the film, the women they had pride in what they did and how they did it. Injuries were common in the work place the machinists worked without guards on the needles. On B grade the women earned eight or nine pounds. Any money was put straight to the home. “It went in the home didn’t it, and on the children” A striker Violet Dawson (Source 4). By 1984, women at the Ford car plant still experienced harsh conditions, with still no guards on the needles and hearing was damaged by machinery noise. The lifestyle that women had was durable barely.
What they were fighting for
The machinists went on strike for many different reasons. When the strike first began the machinists originally wanted just to be re-graded to a “C” grade of semi-skilled, rather then “B” graded as unskilled. They wanted recognition of their skills, “Demand a level playing field” Rita O’Grady (source 7). Ironically, The equal pay act did not help the machinists in winning their re-grading, as they could only claim that their skill level matched some men, but they could not compare themselves to any man in their role, because there was none. Their argument was if they had the same skill level as the men then they should be pay equally as the men in the workforce. Which that argument was not won until another strike in 1984. Due the result of the settlement with Barbara Castle, their pay rate immediately increased 8% below the men (Source 4). Putting them in the full category “C” rate the following year.
The strike showed the widespread of in justice in the employment between men and women pay. The equal pay act legislation gave women employees the right to an industrial tribunal pay equal with men. The catch is with the legislation only if the women doing “like work” or if the employment is rated as equivalent, could only be pay equally. The ford machinists need to be re-graded if they to get “like work” in the legislation.
How did the strike help?
This strike started an enduring legacy. It was an example to the rest. The women trades unionists founded the National Joint Action Campaign Committee for Women’s Equal Rights, was born out of the strike. Which went on to held and equal pay demonstration' attended by 1,000 people in Trafalgar Square on 18 May...