Humanities › History & Culture The Dagenham Women’s Strike of 1968 Share Flipboard Email Print Central Press / Getty Images History & Culture Women's History History Of Feminism Important Figures Key Events Women's Suffrage Women & War Laws & Womens Rights Feminism & Pop Culture Feminist Texts American History African American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century View More By Linda Napikoski Journalist J.D., Hofstra University B.A., English and Print Journalism, University of Southern California Linda Napikoski, J.D., is a journalist and activist specializing in feminism and global human rights. our editorial process Linda Napikoski Updated October 28, 2019 Nearly 200 female workers walked out of the Ford Motor Company plant in Dagenham, England, during the summer of 1968, in protest of their unequal treatment. The Dagenham women's strike led to widespread attention and important equal pay legislation in the U.K. Skilled Women The 187 Dagenham women were sewing machinists who made seat covers for the many cars produced by Ford. They protested being placed in the union's B grade of unskilled workers when men who did the same level of work were placed in the semi-skilled C grade. The women also received less pay than men, even men who were also in the B grade or who swept the factory floors. Eventually, the Dagenham women's strike stopped production entirely, since Ford was unable to sell cars without seats. This helped the women and the people watching them realize how important their jobs were. Union Support At first, the union did not support the women strikers. Divisive tactics had often been used by employers to keep male workers from supporting an increase in women's pay. The women of Dagenham said that union leaders did not think much about losing a mere 187 women's union dues out of thousands of workers. They remained steadfast, however, and were joined by 195 more women from another Ford plant in England. The Results The Dagenham strike ended after Secretary of State for Employment Barbara Castle met with the women and took up their cause to get them back to work. The women were compensated with a fair pay increase, but the re-grading issue was not resolved until after another strike years later. In 1984, they were finally classified as skilled workers. Working women throughout the U.K. benefited from the Dagenham women's strike, which was a precursor to the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The law makes it illegal to have separate pay scales for men and women based on their sex. Film Adaptation The film "Made in Dagenham," released in 2010, stars Sally Hawkins as the leader of the strike and features Miranda Richardson as Barbara Castle.