Made in Dagenham (2010)

Plot: 1968. The one hundred eighty-seven women machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham, England, long filed a grievance against the company to have their jobs classified as semi-skilled as opposed to unskilled, their job to sew the seat covers for the vehicles manufactured. They are the only women working at the plant, compared to the fifty-five thousand men. With the company refusing to negotiate, the machinists, supported by their local union representative Albert Passingham, take job action, including refusal to do any overtime, and a twenty-four hour strike. It isn't until after this job action occurs that the machinists discover that the job classification is not the issue, but rather Ford's unwillingness to pay them equal to the other unionized employees solely because they are women. As such, the fight becomes a broader one of equal pay for equal work. Emerging as the primary voice of the machinists is Rita O'Grady, who had no interest previously or history of labor activism. Ultimately, the machinists take full blown action in walking off the job, they expecting the support they have previously provided to their male colleagues to be reciprocated in respecting the strike. The women will find that they have an uphill battle in their fight. Ford managers on both sides of the Atlantic refuse to give in to any such demands secretly seeing doing so as a dangerous precedent in having to pay all women in the company equally. Many of the male union members don't support the strike seeing their jobs as being more important if only because they are generally the household breadwinner. Beyond Albert, the machinists' own union managers, their representative being Monty Taylor, provide little support in seeing the fight for their male members more important, and they protecting their own perks funded largely by union membership dues. There may cracks within the ranks of the female machinists themselves based on how the strike affects their individual situations, including within Rita's own family. And if it does become a broader policy issue beyond Ford, the British government has to balance the importance of Ford to their economy against the fact that they campaigned on equality to get into power. Although the new Secretary of State for Employment, Barbara Castle, supports the notion of equality, her first job as she sees it is to ensure economic stability which means keeping Ford happy.

Alternative Plot: Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins) works for the Ford Motor Co. plant in Dagenham, England. Despite performing the specialized task of sewing upholstery for car seats, women are classified as unskilled labor and paid much less than men. Encouraged by a sympathetic union representative, Rita agrees to bring the women's grievances to Ford. The meeting goes badly and, outraged by the company's lack of respect for them, Rita leads her colleagues to strike.

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