Beckton student stages Made in Dagenham at LSE

Female sewing machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham vote to return to work, ending their dispute.

Female sewing machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham vote to return to work, ending their dispute. Picture: PA Archive/PA Images - Credit: PA ARCHIVE IMAGES

A woman from Beckton is starring in the London School of Economics’ performance of Made in Dagenham.

Elizabeth Battle, who is a student at the university, pitched the story to her drama group and after a vote they decided to put the show on.

Many of the group were international students and were initially unfamiliar with the story, but the play has proved hugely popular, Elizabeth says.

The plot follows a group of female workers at the Ford plant in Dagenham. They are paid less than their male counterparts because their jobs, which involved stitching the upholstery for car seats, was classed as unskilled.

After being encouraged by a union official who is sympathetic to their cause but getting a bad response from the company’s bosses, the women go out on strike.


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Elizabeth says that studying at the LSE has made her become more proud of her working class roots.

Many members of her family have worked in car factories that sold parts to Ford.

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“Just being at LSE has made me more aware of being an east London girl,” she said.

The shows’s themes are still very relevant today, she says, and with in being international women’s day, the centenary of women getting the vote and 50 years since the strike, there couldn’t be a better time to do the show, she said.

“[Made in Dagenham] is still very relevant. Women are still fighting to get equal pay and the same opportunities, and there are still huge issues around workers’ rights,” she said.

The university has a strong political tradition, she says.

“LSE is known for its politics. We have a history of protest,” she said.

Last year at LSE the cleaners at the university have gone on strike over poor working conditions.

Elizabeth said she is keen to get out on stage to perform.

“It is exciting,” she said. “Obviously there are some nerves but we are looking forward to it.

“It’s a really fun show.”

The play is being staged tonight and tomorrow night at LSE. Visit www.facebook.com/events/150313725621242/ for details.

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