A dramatization of the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham car plant, where female workers walked out in protest against sexual discrimination.

Eddie O'Grady: Christ, I like a drink, but I ain't out on the beer every night or screwin' other women, or... 'Ere, I've never once raised me hand to you. Ever. Or the kids.
Rita O'Grady: Christ.
Eddie O'Grady: What? Why are you looking like that?
Rita O'Grady: Right. You're a saint now, is that what you're tellin' me, Eddie? You're a bleedin' saint? 'Cause you give us an even break?
Eddie O'Grady: What are you saying?
Rita O'Grady: That is as it should be. Jesus, Eddie! What do you think this strike's all been about, eh? Oh yeah. Actually you're right. You don't go on the drink, do ya? You don't gamble, you join in with the kids, you don't knock us about. Oh, lucky me. For Christ's sake, Eddie, that's as it should be! You try and understand that. Rights, not privileges. It's that easy. It really bloody is.
Lisa Hopkins: 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.
Rita O'Grady: Look, I know you're not mentioning it because you're being polite and everything, but when we met in the corridor, well I was really upset, and I never usually use that type of language.
Lisa Hopkins: Don't you?
Rita O'Grady: No.
Lisa Hopkins: Well I called Mr Clarke a complete cock.
Rita O'Grady: All right, um, everybody out!
Albert Passingham: This dispute's got nothing to do with what skill level you are. Ford decided to give you less money because they can. They're allowed to pay women a lower wage than men. All over the country women are getting less because they're women. You'll always come second. You'll always be fighting over the scraps from the top table, until you...
Rita O'Grady: Until we get equal pay, yeah.
Albert Passingham: Yeah.
Rita O'Grady: What I don't get is why it's so important to you.
Albert Passingham: I got brought up by my mum. Me and me brothers. She worked all her life. And she paid my aunt Lil to take care of us during the day. And it was hard, especially as she was getting less than half than what the blokes at the factory was getting, for doing the same work. And there was never any question that it could be any different. Not for her. Someone has got stop these exploiting bastards getting away with what they've been doing for years. And you can, you can, Rita, believe me.
Rita O'Grady: Bollocks. I'm sorry, but it is. Three hours we've been sat here. That's what matters to the girls? How you're qualified to talk about that, I do not know.
Rita O'Grady: [she pulls out threads of leather] Have a look at this. There. You put them together, go on!
Ford executive: Ford property, I believe?
Rita O'Grady: Oh stop it! We have to pick all these different pieces and work out how they go together. Cause there ain't no template is there? We have to take them all and sow them one by one into the finished article. That is not unskilled work! Which is how you've regraded us! Christ, you need to take an exam to...
Peter Hopkins: Miss O'Grady...
Rita O'Grady: No it's Mrs. O'Grady.
Peter Hopkins: Mrs. O'Grady I understand your grievances...
Rita O'Grady: Oh I don't think you do! It's not difficult, though. We're entitled to semi-skilled and the wages that go with it.
Peter Hopkins: Why don't you bring this to the meeting...
Rita O'Grady: No hang on, I haven't finished. And regards to these cue jumping business, we put this complaint in months ago. It's just you've done nothing about it. And we all know why don't we? It's cause women have never been on strike before. You just thought you could forget it and we'll go away, well I'm sorry but it isn't going to be that easy, cause we're not going anywhere. We're gonna do what we said we would: no more overtime, and an immediate twenty-four hour stoppage.
News Reporter 1: What if Mrs. Castle says "no deal"?
News Reporter 2: How will you cope then?
Rita O'Grady: Cope? How will we cope? We're women. Now, don't ask such stupid questions.
Barbara Castle: I am what is known as a fiery redhead. Now, I hate to make this a matter of appearance and go all womanly on you, but there you have it. And me standing up like this is in fact just that redheaded fieriness leaping to the fore. Credence? I will give credence to their cause. My god! Their cause already has credence. It is equal pay. Equal pay is common justice, and if you two weren't such a pair of egotistical, chauvinistic, bigoted dunderheads, you would realise that. Oh, my office is run by incompetents and I am sick of being patronised, spoken down to, and generally treated as if I was the May Queen. Set up the meeting!
Rita O'Grady: All those in favour of not only maintaining but increasing our current industrial action by going to an immediate all-out stoppage until we get the same rates of pay as the men! Well, why not? Cause that's what this is really about, innit? We're on the lowest rate of the entire bleeding factory despite the fact we got considerable skill. And there's only one possible reason for that. It's cause we're women. And in the workplace, women get paid less than men, no matter what skill they got! Which is why from now on, we got to demand a level playing field and rates of pay which reflect the job you do, not whether you got a dick or not! This strike is about one thing and one thing only! Fairness. Equal pay or nothing! All those in favour?
The Women: Yeah!
Rita O'Grady: Everybody out!
[Peter Hopkins is entertaining Ford boss Robert Tooley at home. He clearly regards Lisa as a wife whose only purpose is to look pretty and to be a cook, but Robert sounds out her opinions]
Robert Tooley: Lisa. Do you mind if I call you Lisa? You must have quite a head on your shoulders. Peter tells me that you read history at Cambridge.
Lisa Hopkins: [nervously] Yes I did.
Robert Tooley: Mind if I ask: what do you think of our little problem over at the factory? Do you think maybe he's a bit too much velvet glove, not enough iron fist?
Lisa Hopkins: Not at all, no. Quite the opposite, actually. Look at Vauxhall. *They* don't have any problems with the unions. And that seems to be because General Motors have a more collaborative approach to management. Whereas at Ford you only deal with the unions because you *have* to. You tolerate them. And as a result they're more entrenched and they're aggressive in their dealings with you.
[Robert and Peter look speechless]
Robert Tooley: [patronisingly] Well that's a very *progressive* point of view.
[Albert is being accused by his union of scuppering other negotiations with management by supporting the women's equal-pay strike]
Bartholomew: As a union we have to remember who comes first. The Communist Party. And Marx himself said "Men write their own history". That's "men", Albert.
Albert Passingham: But didn't he also say "Progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex"? Or was that a different Marx? That was Groucho, was it?
[Bartholomew is lost for words]
Albert Passingham: Equal pay across the board. You telling me that ain't worth fighting for? Of course it is, and you know it. I'll tell you something. This Rita has got a bigger set of balls than you three put together. And she ain't scared to lay 'em on the line, neither. And I for one am gonna help her. And if you are what you say you are, an organisation pledged to support its members, then you'll get off your lazy fat arses and you'll help her too. Good fucking evening.
[Albert walks out of the office]
[Rita gives an impromptu speech at the trade union conference]
Rita O'Grady: My best friend lost her husband recently. He was a gunner in the 50 Squadron in the RAF. Got shot down one time, on a raid to Essen. And even though he was badly injured, he managed to bail out. I asked him why he joined the RAF, and he said "Well, they've got the best women, haven't they?"
[audience laughs]
Rita O'Grady: And then he said "Well, you've got to do something, haven't you? You had to do something, that was a given. Cos it was a matter of principle. You had to stand up. You had to do what was right. Cos otherwise you wouldn't be able to look at yourself in the mirror." When did that change, eh? When did we, in this country, decide to stop fighting? I don't think we ever did. But you've got to back us up. You've got to stand up with us. *We* are the working classes - the men *and* the women. We're not separated by sex, but only by those who are willing to accept injustice and those like our friend George who are prepared to go into battle for what is right. And equal pay for women *is* right.
[following her talk with Rita, Connie and the rest of the Dagenham women, Barbara Castle makes a statement to the waiting journalists]
Barbara Castle: I am delighted to announce that, following our talks this afternoon, the 187 Ford machinists *will* be going back to work on the 1st of July. They will receive an immediate pay rise of seven pence an hour which will put them at 92 percent of the male rate. However this is not all. As a result of our discussion, I can confirm that the Government is in full support of the creation of an Equal Pay Act, and by the autumn of this year I guarantee appropriate legislation to ensure that this act becomes law!

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