Made in Dagenham: 'We want sex (equality)'
"Picking up the yarn at the very dawn of the labour battle, [film director Nigel] Cole shows a group of women sewing car-seat upholstery. They chatter, they joke, they work extremely hard, but there's something missing in their daily lives, and it's the simple respect they deserve for doing their jobs well. A young mother decides it's time for a change. And just by articulating her desire for better working conditions and remuneration, she becomes an accidental activist" (Source: Monk 2010 p.D3).
"In 1967, Ford motor factory in Dagenham employed 55,000 workers - 187 of them women. It's these women ... who become the miniskirted trouble makers as, stirred up by their lovable old union rep ... they go on strike demanding equal pay (Source: Anon 2011a p.26).
"the dispute starts over grading but only becomes about equal pay when the women find out that the reason they are wrongly graded as ‘unskilled’ is because they are women" (Source: Prasad 2010 np).
"[Made in Dagenham] follows the women as they brought car production at the bedrock of UK car manufacture to a halt, prompted the lay-off of thousands of workers and was only solved with the intervention of then secretary of state, Barbara Castle" (Source: Heald & McClatchey 2010 np).
For Vera Sime, a former sewing machinist at Ford’s plant, in Dagenham, in east London, in the 1960s, one of the epochal days in modern industrial history started like any other. 'It was like a normal work day in that I got the children ready and gave them to my sister. Then we all met at the factory and got on the coach.' Along with scores of women colleagues - infuriated by a pay structure that blatantly favoured men - Ms. Sime travelled to the streets outside the British Parliament on 28 June 1968 where employees brandished a famous banner. It read: 'We want sex'. 'Oh, we had some jokes with some men with that [banner],' recalls Ms. Sime (now 83), at her home in Rainham, Essex. She is interrupted by her friend and former colleague Gwen Davis (80). 'Well, you hadn’t unfurled the banner properly had you?' she says. The full banner read: 'We want sex equality.'" (Source: Goodley 2013, np www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-international/women-sewi...).
"In the final credits of the film Made in Dagenham we are told that Ford is now one of the leading employers in supporting diversity and inclusion … But we should remember that the catalyst for change came from the Ford women workers, and from the UK government’s equal pay legislation, not from company bosses. It is an indication of how far we have come since 1968 that an organisation like Ford now wants to be seen as a leader in the field of diversity and equality" (Herman 2010 p295).
See the film trailer here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ509hHkHO8
See the film still here: wac.3e65.edgecastcdn.net/803E65/sydney/_snacks/wp-content...
See our page on the film here: www.followthethings.com/madeindagenham.shtml
Legoing by Ian Cook.