Film recalls female Ford workers pay protest

Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:57am EDT
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By Douglas MacLaurin

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A film recalling how a group of female factory workers took on the might of the Ford car company in 1968 to demand equal rights opens in Britain this week with strong reviews to recommend it.

"Made in Dagenham" is directed by Nigel Cole, who had success with "Calendar Girls," another take on female empowerment.

Sally Hawkins plays the central role of Rita, a mild-mannered machinist who challenges management policy of paying women less than men and begins to attract the attention of the country's media and leading politicians.

The strike brought production at Ford's Dagenham plant to a standstill and eventually earned the women better, though not equal pay. It was, according to some experts, also instrumental in getting the Equal Pay Act of 1970 passed in parliament.

For Hawkins, the story was partly a tribute to the courage of the women prepared to risk the ire of their employers and co-workers to gain sexual equality in the workplace.

"I think it will always be a fight that needs to be fought, sadly," she told Reuters at the recent premiere.

"But I think we've come such a long way, when you look back at very recent history, history you can almost touch and people in our own lifetime remember.

"When you think back to what they had to put up with ... you think, well, where would we be without them really."   Continued...