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Notoriously Militant: The Story of a Union Branch at Ford Dagenham

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In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford Motor Company’s plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for a number working-class causes, from equal In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford Motor Company’s plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for a number working-class causes, from equal opportunities to the stunningly effective boycott of parts for South Africa. Notoriously Militant, which takes as its title a tabloid journalist’s verdict on the branch, covers the history of Ford’s Dagenham plant—and its roots in Henry Ford’s early U.S. activities—from 20th-century shop-floor struggles to the 21st-century fight against plant closure. Based on original research and oral history, this study offers a primer for activists and analysts on the confrontation between worker militancy and the rigors of “Fordism.” This book is a lively look at working-class history as made daily by so-called “ordinary” workers, the links between basic workplace struggles and revolutionary conflict, the pressures toward “cooperation” between union and management, and the interweaving of gender and ethnicity issues with the class-based structures of a major industrial workplace.


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In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford Motor Company’s plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for a number working-class causes, from equal In 1946, after a series of stormy strikes and a mass occupation at Ford Motor Company’s plant in Dagenham, Essex, thousands of workers came together in a new branch of the Transport and General Workers Union. Later, in the early 1980s, a band of dedicated workplace activists brought branch 1/1107 to explosive life with support for a number working-class causes, from equal opportunities to the stunningly effective boycott of parts for South Africa. Notoriously Militant, which takes as its title a tabloid journalist’s verdict on the branch, covers the history of Ford’s Dagenham plant—and its roots in Henry Ford’s early U.S. activities—from 20th-century shop-floor struggles to the 21st-century fight against plant closure. Based on original research and oral history, this study offers a primer for activists and analysts on the confrontation between worker militancy and the rigors of “Fordism.” This book is a lively look at working-class history as made daily by so-called “ordinary” workers, the links between basic workplace struggles and revolutionary conflict, the pressures toward “cooperation” between union and management, and the interweaving of gender and ethnicity issues with the class-based structures of a major industrial workplace.

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