Friday, 12 December 2014

Made in Dagenham - Ford Workers on Strike 1978

If you're about to watch the 2010 film Made in Dagenham, or are heading to the Adelphi Theatre in London to see Made in Dagenham The Musical which both present the true story of the 187 women machinists at Ford's in Dagenham who went on strike for equal pay in 1968 - spare a thought for those tens of thousands of Ford workers who also refused to walk through the factory gates, ten years later...

Sandwiched between a big run of my Punk singles from the late 70s, I've come across a 45rpm 7" single called Ford Workers on Strike that seems to have been issued sometime just after early October 1978 when all three tracks on the single were recorded. 

Give Way to the Ford Workers on Strike

The picture sleeve shows nine Ford Workers on the picket line outside the Langley Assembly Plant in Dagenham, Essex. They were out on strike arguing for a £20 increase on their weekly pay rate and a reduction of one hour from their daily shift. The proceeds of the sale of the record were to raise fighting funds for the striking workers.The strike ran for some nine weeks between September and November resulting in the union TGWU agreeing a settlement of 17% increase in the workers salaries. 

I have no recollection of buying my record - or if the late John Peel, the BBC Radio 1 DJ, ever did play it on his legendary late night show (even with that cunning prompt to JP printed not-so-discreetly on the left hand side of the front cover!). Visually, I can see why the record had been so easily hidden away within the kinds of singles of the era with similar looking picture sleeves - the stark B&W photo, the ripped and torn graphics, and the angry-typewriter lettering. 

The 'A' Side is The Ford Strike Song sung by 'OHC and the Gappers', to the tune of Country Joe and the Fish's 'Fixin' To Die' rag. With lyrics like: "You can stuff your five per cent , 'cos that won't pay the rent" replacing the Fish's "Don't ask me I don't give a damn - the next stop is Vietnam"...

Sonically it's of little interest though being in the vein of Pete Seeger's American-style folky singalongs. However, the B Side segues actuality of the striking Ford Workers marching through London with Johnny Strika by George Chriba and guitar accompaniment sung with a gritty rough and ready spirit. Pre-Billy Bragg if you will...

back cover showing the iconic Ford / Fraud logo
I am aware of several other records put out as fund raisers for striking workers before this Ford Workers on Strike disc, and of course if we roll the clock on six years to the Miners Strike of 1984/85, there was a wave of these kinds of strike benefit records being issued up and down the country.

The label, No Strings

I note that since the popular success surrounding Made in Dagenham, this record "Made, Sung and Produced by The Ford (UK) Workers' Combine" has up to now received no media coverage whatsoever. 

Well to quote a line from the Ford Workers' Combine "We'll expropriate the bastards of all their plunder - and get 'em back for keeping us under!"

Both sides of the accompanying lyric sheet

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