Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Made in Dagenham

(UK, 2010)

Here’s a fun movie about labor organizing that will surely remind you of Norma Rae, and possibly of The Pajama Game. Who can resist a story about the little people rising up against the people who are exploiting them? I sure can’t. This one is about a strike in 1968 at a Ford plant just outside London. Ford employs 40,000 men and 187 women, all of them in the upholstery room which leaks when it rains and is so hot in the summer that the ladies work in bras and panties. They are classified as unskilled, and paid a fraction of what the men make. Naturally, Ford maintains that if it increases their wages even one penny per hour, they will go broke. Hello? Can anybody in this stupid company do math at all? You could pay the women ten times what they’re getting and never budge the bottom line. But the corporate instinct is to fuck you over, even if they don’t have to. The women go on strike, and (surprise!) eventually win wage parity. The movement spread all over the world, except for the countries we’re now exporting all our jobs to, which don’t have unions. When those countries unionize, the manufacturers (Apple, Nike, HP, all you others, I’m talkin’ to you, assholes!) they will look for cheap labor on Mars. The story is rather routine, even though it is true. I could see all the plot points coming. You will, too, I’ll bet. But it is saved by a great performance by Sally Hawkins as the working-class mom turned organizer, and by two great British pros, Bob Hoskins and Miranda Richardson.