This whole story is a perfect example of the claim by Labour Historian Jeremy Brecher that in the periods of mass strike, workers act outside of their institutionally prescribed roles. They reinvent themselves as historical actors and as a part of a group making history together. In this story, Rita O’Grady who was a bit hesitant to represent women machinist for the first meeting was inspired by how management was ignorant about the work women do for making car seat covers. She couldn’t resist herself from showing how they carry out such a skilled task under pathetic working conditions.
On the other side of it, management was trying to sort this problem out with the help of union representative without being concerned about women’s problems. They never expected that a woman will put forth their problems during the meeting.
Then, Rita comes to know that the actual problem is not about the skills but it is about their sex. She understood that they will always be paid lesser than men until they stop this wrongdoing by the management and the government as a whole. She inspired all women to fight against sexual discrimination and to go on indefinite strike. This incident depicts that now women are no more worried about the organisation they represent and the job they perform at Ford, but they consider themselves amongst a larger social group of WOMEN. Rita and her fellow machinist demanded for sexual equality across the board. They wanted to stop this discrimination forever and wanted to make history together as women.
When women stopped working in their factory, the factory ran out of finished car seats. This shows that factory cannot work simply on other divisions alone but it works on harmonious production by all of its hands. Non-functioning of even the smallest of the division can make company loss millions of pounds daily. Management failed to realise the impact of such strike by women machinist. Eventually entire car plant at Deganham came to a halt. Management’s task was to sense the situation, sense the problems which women faced and solve the issue beforehand but they followed very casual approach and because of that had to incur such huge losses.
Thus, when mass strike happens, we see transformation in the roles of workers and the management (Ackers, 2003). When workers withdraw their cooperation from existing institutions, they reveal that those institutions are not the fixed things they appear in life but they depend on the living human beings whose activity makes them up. Albert had also seen the consequences of such sexual discrimination and exploitation through his mother. Thus workers associate themselves more to a social group rather than an organisation where they work. On the other side, management is a group of people who are the owners of the company or they directly work for the owners of the company. Their primary concern is the profit to the company and in a process of maximising it and reducing losses due to strike, they take steps to ensure that companies continue their operations during strike. Sometimes harsh regulations on workers or threatening them as done in this case may produce undesired results and may lead to more losses. Management should try to convince workers in a mutually beneficial way as early as possible so that production process does not come to a standstill position.