Back in Time for the Factory
A group of modern workers go back to the 60s, 70s and 80s to learn how an unsung army of factory girls took on the fight for equality at work and at home
Part 1: 1968
The workers start their journey in 1968, when The Beatles and Tom Jones are topping the charts, Labour’s Harold Wilson is Prime Minister and big hair abounds. It is also the year the female strikers of Dagenham brought the Ford factory to a standstill and the question of women’s pay into the headlines. Their first task is to produce pink nylon petticoats – a staple of British women’s wardrobes in an era when only 30% of houses had central heating. But to do that they need to master the fearsome sewing machines and over lockers on the factory floor.
Part 2: 1973
The women’s journey started in 1968 and now it is 1973 and they have new clothes, new hair and new expectations. Conservative Edward Heath is prime minister and flares, flicks and platforms are all the rage. Factory floors across Britain are still dominated by a female workforce but even though the Equality Act had been passed in 1970, the women have to put their expectations on hold. They discover that things are still far from equal on the factory floor – the Equality Act may have been passed in 1970, but factory bosses had been given five years to prepare themselves.
Part 3: 1976
The year is 1976, when disco was still dominating the dancefloors and maxi dresses were in vogue. It was a year of great hope for women in Britain – the Sex Discrimination Act had been passed in 1975 and the Equal Pay Act had finally come in to force at the end of 1975. But will the changes in the law lead to equality on our factory floor or will our women’s hopes be dashed once again?
Part 4: 1983
It is 1983 and for our women it is all big shoulder pads and back-combed hair. Annie Lennox and Bonnie Taylor are topping the charts and Britain’s first female prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, has been returned to power in a landslide victory for the Conservatives. Women had battled throughout the 70s to win equality in the workplace, and whilst many of those battles had been won, in law at least, they now had another fight on their hands – the fight to hang on to their jobs.
Part 5: The Real Story
In this final episode, original factory girls give first-hand accounts of their experiences on the factory floor, at the kitchen sink and on raucous nights out. The women speak of terrifying bosses, everyday sexism, union battles, camaraderie and of lifelong friendships forged on the production line. With Wales-born presenter Alex Jones guiding us through this most important chapter in industrial history, the programme also shows how the factory was lovingly brought back to life using the testimony of those original factory girls as inspiration.