Ford Dagenham strike heroine Dora Challingsworth dies

Former Ford striker, Dora Challingsworth at her home in Dagenham

Former Ford striker, Dora Challingsworth at her home in Dagenham - Credit: Vickie Flores/Archant

Tributes have been paid to Dora Challingsworth, leader of the 1984 Ford factory strikes, who has died.

Ms Challingsworth, who is thought to have been 83 when she passed, worked in the Dagenham plant as a shop steward when she decided to take action. 

In 1968 women downed tools at the factory to fight for pay equality - an effort that inspired the film Made in Dagenham. But while progress had been made through the 1970 Equal Pay Act, female workers were not considered ‘skilled’ and were on a lower pay grade than male counterparts despite an equal level of supposed skill required for their jobs. 

“When they said we got equal pay that time [after the 1968 strike], it wasn’t equal, you know,” Dora told the Post in 2018. 

“We still didn’t get what the men got. When we went out in ’84, that’s what we wanted and we weren’t going to settle for anything less.”

A statement from the Trades Union Congress wrote: “Dora and her colleagues challenged not only the company that undervalued them but the ignorance of many of her male colleagues.”

Paul Ince, Dora Challingsworth and Trevor Lock

L-R: Paul Ince, Dora Challingsworth and Trevor Lock have received the freedom of the borough. - Credit: Jimmy Lee Photography

Ms Challingsworth’s campaign resulted in a step towards equal rights. She has been praised for championing the cause from appearing in Parliament to engaging with the media. 

“I really enjoyed what I did and I’m glad I did it,” she said in 2018. 

“You know, they say: ‘Oh, you’ve gone down in history’ and all this but we didn’t do it for that.”

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Cllr Darren Rodwell, leader of Barking and Dagenham Council, tweeted: “Saddened to hear that Dora Challingsworth, who helped lead the 1984 Ford strikes in Dagenham, has passed away.

“Dora played an important role in the fight for equal pay for equal work, and is a legend of the trade union movement. RIP Dora.”