a strike made in hollywood

‘Feel-good’ hit movie Made in Dagenham didn’t make Sheila Cohen feel very good…

A film about a strike that really happened, a strike that brought a huge multinational to a standstill, a strike that was waged and led by women… What’s not to like? Only that Made In Dagenham fails to tell the true, and far more significant, story of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists’ strike – a story of class rebellion against exploitation rather than of softly gender-focused togetherness.

For its first half hour, Made In Dagenham looks good. Apart from the stripping-off scenes in the sweaty factory, unanimously repudiated by strike survivors, the film more or less tells it like it was – i.e. that the sewing machinists were involved in a grading dispute. The emphasis is necessary, because, along with almost every account of the dispute over the last 40-odd years, the next two-thirds of the film stubbornly present it as a “strike for equal pay”. Continue reading “a strike made in hollywood”