Oral history project, Scotland: interview. Sample containing about 12200 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C264

PS2A2 X m (Bill, age unknown, engineer) unspecified
PS2A3 X m (Ken, age unknown) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 098101 recorded on unknown date. LocationUnknown () Activity: interview

Undivided text

Ken (PS2A3) [1] [...] , how did you did you find it, going back to a heavy engineering plant like after having been at for a while?
Bill (PS2A2) [2] Well obviously erm the work that er one was engaged in in was smaller than that er produced by Brothers.
[3] Mainly because Brothers were attached to the shipbuilding industry, and the making of ships catapults, er arresting gears, er submarine work, erm telemeters for ships.
[4] Erm but of course they did other work you know, which was of a general character.
[5] Er and they were what we would call medium to heavy type of er engineering.
[6] Er but the work was good.
[7] Erm for example, on the ... on the er catapults, we were capable of making a catapult erm that was so efficient, that on one particular occasion the Americans and the British Navy had a competition to see how many planes they could put in the air er in a certain number of minutes.
[8] I think it was ten minutes.
[9] And er the British catapult came out on top.
[10] Erm we had a full load you know, in the air before the Americans er were three quarters of the way through.
[11] Erm and that was using their own U S A er catapult.
Ken (PS2A3) [12] And was that the kind of er was it still all mainly military type of work that you, you were doing, even after the war?
Bill (PS2A2) [13] No erm part of it was military, or admiralty rather.
[14] Erm most of it was the er for commercial work.
[15] Erm it took some time you know through the mid fifties to run down the wartime contracts.
[16] Erm some firms needed about ten years er before the contract, the wartime contracts were eliminated.
[17] Er and fulfilled.
[18] Er but Brothers er took time to get over that and er but at, at the same time were using their sales representatives to go abroad and to gain work you know, for the commercial aspect of the company.
[19] And they were indeed successful.
[20] Er in as much as they maintained the, the labour force.
[21] Er at one time there was just over about a thousand people employed in Brothers.
[22] That was the total complement, including the [...] .
[23] Erm at the time when I took er office as a shop steward, er there was approximately two hundred and fifty apprentices and er there would be about six hundred shop floor workers and the rest er were complement to the staff.
[24] The drawing office and the er ... er dealt with the money side of the company.
[25] Finance.
[26] But erm the, the contracts that came in erm were in the main for the ship stabilizers.
[27] And erm Sir William who was the designer of it er had designed the stabilizer in such a manner that all sorts of er materials were required for it.
[28] There was ... loads of levers and, and er er crossheads and, and different things that gave plenty of work to our colleagues er including the housing you know, which was a huge er er piece of er welded equipment you know, built into the side of the ship.
[29] And the slides that were then machined and put into it so that the, the, the, the arm of the, the stabilizer could slip into the water you know.
[30] Erm was all fitted into these er containers.
[31] And it gave lots and lots of work to our colleagues and you know, when, when I say that er I think I made a comment that at that time, er had made the, the, the comment about er the winds of change and that er you know we were never better off, well really the unemployment figures were so low at that time that it's to my mind you know, a truism.
[32] Er notwithstanding having said that, er we were always of the opinion in the shop stewards' committee that if a man left, we would then go after the employer to re-engage someone else you know, or engage someone er in his place.
[33] And the employer was quite responsive to that.
[34] And so it was no problem at that time.
[35] But as we gradually erm worked our way into the nineteen sixties, er there were new technologies er brought into focus in Brothers, and the design particularly in regard to the stabilizer, was one thing that er brought about a dramatic change er not only in regard to design but in production.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [36] The Swedes at one time, they designed er a stabilizer which was er a type hydraulic rather than a mechanical hydraulic er er stabilizer, and subsequently all the materials that I was talking about, the levers and you know, all the rest of it, were not required, and it shrunk the size of the thing er so low you know, that er the British manufacturers had to look, because the Swedes were then in the market er in a competitive way to take on Brothers or anybody else who were prepared to er produce them under licence.
[37] Er and the Italians at that time were producing them under licence from [...] .
[38] So the management looked at the, the thing very critically and they, they designed a new stabilizer erm which did away with the whole housing, which did away with the cross er crossheads and the slides and it was so easily produced er that we were then seeking to, to sales representatives to go out and look for other work.
[39] So that created a problem and we then found that a number of people were leaving Brothers to seek their fortunes elsewhere because the work that they liked to work on and you know traditionally they'd been on it for years, er was no longer there and er subsequently there was a slip in the numbers employed.
Ken (PS2A3) [40] How did you feel about that yourself the, the way the machinery had changed er and your, your trade was obviously having to adapt to that [...] ?
Bill (PS2A2) [41] Well erm I took the view that er two things were happening.
[42] There were new forms of technology coming into existence then, one, we had moved away from the automatic er type of machinery to what they called er digital controlled and numerical controlled machines.
[43] Not computerized but digital controlled.
[44] Where you know, the readout on the lathes etcetera er were easily seen and er easily operated.
[45] Er there were new types of tools brought into being, er ceramic tools for example on the vertical boring mills.
[46] Erm they were used.
[47] Er
Ken (PS2A3) [48] I wonder if you could describe that in about er for the layman if you like.
Bill (PS2A2) [49] Well they, they had gone into the production of er steel er turning er in such a way that er they looked for the best possible tools er in order, one, that they could produce the item more cheaply [...] as far as the employing class is concerned, they want to produce it as cheap as they can and probably sell it the dearest.
[50] Erm but this is more or less, indigenous within the engineering industry, there is even inherent within an engineering mind, and I'm not [...] with the planners or the technical experts, but even in the ordinary lay engineer, he looks to be able to do the job more efficiently, with the materials that he has in hand er and possibly introduce a new type of tool if he can get the proper material, and likewise the employer was doing the same thing.
[51] Erm and so therefore er they, they knew tools that they had been using since the period of the war, erm were gradually being overtaken by the new types of ceramic tools.
[52] Er for example the ones that they fitted on the, the vertical boring mills, were round er in nature, bolted through the centre to a tool post and subsequently when they went into action, they were so hard you know, that they could outstrip the existing type of tip tool erm because the, the material itself stood up better to the cutting flow er er rather than the, the tip tool which was inclined to chip.
[53] Er and, and so therefore we were entering into a new phase of technology not only in regard to new types of machinery, but also to the tooling.
[54] And then accompanying that of course erm there was the introduction of the er work study personnel.
[55] The management er sought to change the type of incentive scheme that we were working on.
[56] Because of the new innovations that had been installed.
[57] And because also that it was er partly the, the directors' money that was being poured into it at that time, we knew all these things, and they were expecting a, a return back from it.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [58] Erm that er the er ... management er agreed to introduce a work study system.
[59] Er now that was met with a great deal of er antipathy.
[60] When I say that er the existing bonus structure er although unrelated to time, was certainly related to the man's pay packet and it was given in the way of an advice note with each job, and a price attached to it.
[61] A price.
[62] So the man could calculate exactly what he was earning you know, hour by hour if not day by day and week by week.
[63] Erm so it was, it was a, it was a paradox.
[64] The money was removed and the new element of time on a job was applied, and er this wasn't done easily of course because when they introduced the work study consultants, erm we found it necessary, particularly the shop stewards found it necessary to have consultation with the management.
[65] One, to eliminate any feeling of antipathy er to the introduction of any new incentive scheme, but more so er to give confidence to our members that whatever happened, erm there would be a benefit.
[66] Because [...] you know money-wise because we were not content to sit back and see er schemes being introduced that, which were going to act as a deterrent to er our members er being able to earn wages er on incentives and so therefore erm what happened was that we agreed that the consultants er head personnel manager would come down and talk to each group of people who were being put on to the incentive scheme, one, in order that he go over everything with them in regard to its application, and two, then answer any practical questions er where our members may find that there could be difficulties.
[67] Er one, in regard to how they would operate it and secondly in regard to what would be expected of them, perhaps if they were attached to one of the older type machines and not the new machines you see.
[68] Erm because new machines were costly and, and er you know, you're, we're talking in terms of a milling machine for example costing something like twenty five to thirty five thousand pounds.
[69] But the change wasn't radical, it took place over a period of er I would suggest er maybe about six or seven years.
[70] Until all the old type of machinery you know, was overtaken by the new.
[71] And so whilst we were conscious of the fact that erm management were pursuing this policy to introduce the new system, we were just as conscious that we were going to protect our members er and have prior consultation, and that's the operative and effective word as far as shop stewards are concerned, to have prior consultation, before anybody accepted going on to the scheme.
[72] Now the management agreed to that policy er and subsequently erm the, the main machine shop was the first er er department to go on to it.
[73] So the targets were set er and a new basis of working agreed to mutually with the management, on the understanding that er the existing piecework supplement, erm would be multiplied by three, and that meant that our colleagues were er able to earn something like er three and sixpence old money an hour, if indeed they met the target bonus.
[74] Erm on the basis that er we were, when we were setting the, the targets, the time was set by the work study personnel erm and then the operator was able to obtain a trial run on the time given er and if at the end of the work, he was satisfied that he had made the target bonus, or near enough, or if he was satisfied that, given a little extra opportunity to go back onto that job should it come back again in the near future, then he would, he would see clearly that he could make at least fifty percent er which was the target bonus, and probably more.
[75] And so after a while erm we found that, apart from one or two minor anomalies, er that our members were able to achieve round about forty seven, forty eight, forty nine percent.
[76] One or two instances that were favouring the fifty percent.
[77] Erm but, but the stewards were told that er er with all the changes that had been implemented, that our members weren't satisfied.
[78] And so erm we went up, I think it was about six months after it was introduced, and negotiated an increase on the bonus element.
[79] And er that added er to our members pay packet something like another fourpence an hour.
[80] And er they were quite happy about that.
[81] They were quite happy.
Ken (PS2A3) [82] [...] do you remember the time though as being, you, you certainly imply that it was a, a time when there was a quite a bit of unrest perhaps at the complexity of the scheme, as much as anything else.
[83] It was quite a new thing er in itself er you know it's, you, like I say, you've implied that er there was at least some degree of unrest on the shop floor.
Bill (PS2A2) [84] Yes.
[85] Well one of the, you see, one of the strange things that happened at that time, traditionally engineers, and I think I said this in my previous statements to you, for example in where there was no bonus ever adhered to, er our members looked at their, the daily production er er routine, that any interference as far as time was concerned, by the management you know, would be an intrusion on their sacrificial rites, and therefore it wasn't tolerated.
[86] Erm they could have, to my way of thinking, have engaged in piecework or a reasonable incentive scheme, set with times and everything else, but er they didn't do that.
[87] Alternately, in Brothers, when I arrived there, there was an existing piecework structure implemented, although not everybody was on it.
[88] And that created a difference of opinion between certain of our members who were not in receipt of any incentive payment, as opposed to those who could clearly indulge in it and, and, and make a reasonable er er profit out of it.
[89] Erm when the work study ... consultants came in, er we inquired as to one, whether their scheme was going to cover everybody because we were not satisfied that the existing scheme gave everybody the incentive that was required to keep people in harmony.
[90] And so we had discussions with them and I can tell you, you know, it was at least six months before the consultants ever made any specific move to introduce the system as such er because of our overtures to them, because of the fact that we asked regularly to meet them and to consult on various points.
[91] Er one mainly being the, the fact that we wanted an overall scheme to cover everybody, including, including a payment for the lowest paid labourer in the shop.
[92] That meant it went across the whole spectrum of the workforce.
[93] Ultimately we were given that assurance and er we were quite proud of the fact that, you know, the members had gone along with us on the proviso that we had got that principle you know, to establish.
[94] And being successful in that, we then went forward to seek its application.
[95] But er one of the paradoxical things that happened was that immediately men are faced with, for example, someone standing beside them with a stopwatch,
Ken (PS2A3) [96] I was going to ask you about that.
[97] How people
Bill (PS2A2) [98] that
Ken (PS2A3) [99] how people responded to that
Bill (PS2A2) [100] Yes.
Ken (PS2A3) [101] that kind of
Bill (PS2A2) [102] Yes.
[103] Well that created er a great feeling of ambiguity in the minds of our members, erm mainly I think due to the fact that some of our colleagues you know, may have been a bit er apprehensive.
[104] Er mainly because in the past they didn't have the proper equipment to do the work that they were engaged on anyway, and although their own minds would clearly tell them that they would identify the work with certain equipment you know, that was up to date and you know, would make life easier for them and be able to produce more, I think some of them er er their minds were overshadowed by the fact that er there was a degree of mistrust between them and the management, that they would ever get the proper equipment to do the job.
[105] However er during the course of our er dialogues with the management, er and I must say this that er they did introduce er whenever asked, new equipment, new tools, they did everything possible to make life a bit easier for our members er in that respect.
[106] And then it was clearly seen er that not only were the changes in the, the er financial er arrangements for the introduction of the bonus scheme, with the introduction of a further fourpence and hour, with the introduction of the time factor on the job, as opposed to them starting, we'll say, round about forty seven, forty eight, forty nine percent, the movement was then into the fifty percent bracket, fifty five percent.
[107] And as they went on, you know, it was gradually working up and so therefore the graph, each man's productivity you know, was rising.
[108] And er we were quite happy with that.
[109] The result was that other departments er particularly the fitters for example er who were still working on the old scheme, wanted to, they then wanted to come onto the scheme.
[110] And er that was with a great deal of persuasion er on the shop steward's part and argument with the management, and pushing the management to introduce it, er that we moved into the fitting departments.
[111] But er
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [112] the management were, were clearly trying to identify the, the whole process in regard to the machine shops in particular first of all, so that when they did move into the fitting er departments, they would have all the materials there necessary to, to give our members the, the feeds you know, for, for producing the m er items.
Ken (PS2A3) [113] Erm from you from your experience in the, the negotiating of that, that kind of er deal and just from what you saw of it working in factories, er do you think that management quite explicitly sought to, to create some division or was the division that arose wh you're talking about the fitters being on a different scheme from the other members of the workforce?
Bill (PS2A2) [114] Well can I say that er if I might say so first of all, I think that the, the antipathy that existed for a period actually came more from the workshop, rather than the management.
[115] The management er clearly desired to implement the scheme er with the minimum amount of frustration er to anyone, although you've got to understand that as an engineer working a, a big milling machine for example, if someone comes along and said er, you know you could stand that job on its side different to what you've got it at the moment, and you could do two faces instead of one you know, by turning the table and you know, by use of various tools er decrease the time factor, there was the, it was a fear that our members may work themselves out of a job.
[116] And I was quite conscious of that.
[117] But er at that time there was plenty work coming in, erm there was, there was no need for us to be apprehensive, and so therefore we had to convince the management that in the best interests of everybody, having agreed that the scheme would go on across the whole spectrum of the workforce, was to move reasonably, you know, quickly through the various machine departments and introduce with a minimum amount of frustration.
[118] And we had to keep pushing them [laughing] all along [] .
[119] It was an incentive I would say for the shop stewards.
[120] One, to protect the members' you know, interests in each department to see that they got the, a, a time limit you know, to go onto the scheme, that the consultation took place.
[121] So it was done in that manner and it was fairly reasonable er and eventually you know, everybody but everybody was, was on this scheme.
Ken (PS2A3) [122] Do you remember any specific instances of er people being particularly aggravated by the fact that there were these blokes on the shop floor suggesting this job might change, and timing jobs and that kind of thing?
Bill (PS2A2) [123] Oh yes, er
Ken (PS2A3) [124] Did people get aggravated by it?
Bill (PS2A2) [125] I would, I would have to be absolutely honest and that and er I wouldn't exclude myself from that particular er way of thinking because when they moved in, when you got a time for a job, erm for example there was one particular job that I was on erm and I thought that I was doing it reasonable accurately and rapidly, erm and they wanted to introduce a new fixture so that you know, I could do the whole series of faces on it.
[126] Erm and I could see what they were after you know, an engineer has in his mind the plan and how to go about the thing and, and get it all done in a one-off situation.
[127] So speaking personally, of course when the work study man comes along, and he's timing you lifting a spanner you know, to tighten a bolt, erm and things like this, er it's a strange feeling to have someone standing looking over your shoulder and I personally er didn't see any need for that.
[128] Er it would have been better had he perhaps said, well there's the time for the job, there's your card, there's all the operations listed for you, from one to sixteen or whatever it might be, and each one itemized you know, as to how long it might take.
[129] Have a go and I'll come back in an hour and a half and, well what the work study man wanted you see, was to define whether his assessments were reasonably correct or indeed absolutely correct you know, or whether they were too loose.
[130] Er and that the, the final analysis er in regard to time, was reasonable, because you've got to bear in mind that there was money attached to that, and if his figures are out, and your bonus effort could be increased by ten to fifteen or even twenty percent you know, then his time was considered by the management to be much too loose.
[131] But er yes there was a, there was er a change invoked that type of er scheme which er initially was felt by each individual er when they were work studied.
[132] But after a while, when they got a variety of jobs to do, they, they took off on their own initiative and in fact some of them er without even advising the, the planning department er introduced one or two minor innovations which made life easier for them in regard to the work study man's er schedule.
[133] And that's where engineering you know, knowledge, comes er to bear because an engineer looks for that, he looks for the easy, simplest you know er method of production er which gives him an effective er machining operation throughout the whole job.
[134] Er and to be able to pick it off the machine at the end of the day you know, as a first class, simple object at, at a competitive price.
[135] And, and that's how it operated.
Ken (PS2A3) [136] Do you think er work practices became any more flexible with these changes?
[137] Like did er er people begin to be asked to do different jobs whereas you described in the older days, you were very much sort of, pinned to one machine if you like?
Bill (PS2A2) [138] Yes.
[139] Well one of the variants that, that was applied, you see under the, under the old er er time workers' er arrangements where it was only the foreman who by visual contact you know with the amount of items produced at each machine could make any reasonable assessment in regard to the individual's effort.
[140] This was introduced in a more scientific way and subsequently erm times on machines can be measured.
[141] For instance if you want to turn an object on a lathe erm and you go from one end of a shaft to the other, no matter, supposing you do it ten times, erm the machine will take that cut in exactly the same time.
[142] You know it's a mathematical er er fact that it won't take any longer to go along.
[143] Er and, and having established the measurement of combined with the time, er people seemed to accept the fact that this was more you know, scientific.
[144] And er it was accepted, but erm the, the whole structure of the system was geared to efficiency.
[145] And through time, the establishment became very efficient.
[146] Not only in regard to the machine operators, but there was other things that entered into our discussion.
[147] For example timesheets, they were finally discarded and replaced by er a schedule which was a work study schedule applied to each job.
[148] There was a card which you received from the er clerk at the desk, they were introduced, the clerks were introduced in order to note everybody's time.
[149] Erm your time was made up, it was then applied to the sheet you know, and, and there was hardly any er personal allocation you know, of, of duty in regard to filling up the timesheets.
[150] So that was removed.
[151] Other major things such as er doing away with time consuming exercise such as travelling even to the store for tools.
[152] Erm the tools were made up in a kit and er every time there was a work study exercise done on a job, er the tools were all numbered and laid aside and registered for that particular item.
[153] They were then made a sign in the store, and if the job came up again, all you did was to go down the store, and it was a one-off exercise, instead of travelling back and forwards to get a particular tool, erm er that was all eliminated.
[154] And you had the whole kit.
[155] It was easy erm, so other, other things were brought into [...] too such as drawings.
[156] Drawings were altered er instead of getting a whole sheet of a combined er er part of a, a steering gear or whatever it might have been, er they were all itemized and reduced to part pieces, and it was much easier to look, examine and find out what sizes were required than, you know, three dimensional er drawings.
[157] So it was, really everybody was brought into this.
[158] Er the only thing is that er it was the people on the workshop floor that were paid from it er rather than the er planning er personnel or indeed the drawing office.
[159] Who came
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [160] in at a much later stage by the way, and presented a claim for the management you know, that they were now part of the, the whole scheme.
Ken (PS2A3) [161] Did you not find that er the work them became very sort of com compartmentalized if you like, very specific people were doing bits of jobs rather than a feeling that you were all part of a much larger thing [...] ?
[162] You know,i if you see what I'm getting at.
Bill (PS2A2) [163] Yes indeed er the there was no doubt about that.
[164] Er I was fully aware of the fact that er you know, some people [...] say, particularly in the fitting departments where experience had taught the fitters, having been given a free hand, er that they accumulated all the parts for a job, or even part of the job, they did certain assemblies you know, until they got all the part pieces assembled ready to combine it into the main unit, erm that experience er was being overtaken by an introduction of smaller units being assembled you know, bit by bit as they were being produced in the machine shop.
[165] And this created a, a, a degree of efficiency.
[166] Er there's no doubt in my mind that it was efficient erm and it was, it was controlling time.
Ken (PS2A3) [167] But it must have changed the, the
Bill (PS2A2) [168] And
Ken (PS2A3) [169] the atmosphere of the job quite, quite considerably
Bill (PS2A2) [170] and
Ken (PS2A3) [171] you know.
Bill (PS2A2) [172] Yes er although let me say this, that er there were many things which the management were required to do, for example, when we, when we went to our monthly meetings with them, we established monthly meetings with the management, one, in order to try and control from our side, er the, to have some control on the production er side of things.
[173] One, in order that the old type of arrangement you know, would no longer prevail, and that subsequently if people were going to have assemblies, part assemblies before they assembled the whole unit, then whole areas would have to be cleared, new benches would have to be built, the departments would have to be totally gone through you know, and all the rubbish cleared out and, and access and egress you know, to every department to make life easier for everybody.
[174] Er and so, to our credit er the management did this.
[175] It took time, it took time, it took a period of years till they got it finalized but when we got it finalized, we had for example er welding areas, in which no one was allowed in unless they were a welder you know.
[176] Or were given permission to go in.
[177] And the fitters worked happily in their particular section and they had everything at their disposals you know, more or less er er in the one unit.
[178] We had the machine shops divided into the main er machine shop and the other sections.
[179] So that it was much more efficient and, and pathways and er alleyways were all cleared and lined and kept clear.
[180] All the er all the moulds and the part pieces were all kept, you know, in a safe position behind the lines so that the it was easy for people to walk up and down without fear of accident.
[181] And so we were complimented by some of our colleagues on the shop floor you know, that, what a difference is on the place.
[182] You know and that this is what they were saying.
Ken (PS2A3) [183] Mm.
[184] It seems like quite a, a radical sort of transformation of the whole work environment.
Bill (PS2A2) [185] Well radical in the sense that er not withstanding it took, it took time.
[186] Er but radical certainly as compared to how things operated before, when you went into the fitting shop, you know, you could, you could only walk a few feet
Ken (PS2A3) [187] Mm.
Bill (PS2A2) [188] before you were er trying to jump over cables and
Ken (PS2A3) [189] Mhm.
Bill (PS2A2) [190] and old plates and nuts and bolts and all sorts of things.
[191] Whereas the men, the men were taught to be more tidy erm although let me say this that er if you asked Jimmy who was an old established fitter in Brothers, where you would find a certain item, you know, in the fitting department, er he could go and get it, erm but er when the new system was invoked er everybody knew that they were stored either you know to the north of the department or to the south or whatever.
[192] Everybody had an idea where they were.
[193] Yeah.
Ken (PS2A3) [194] Erm maybe you could describe how er I mean, was it a big open plan type er set up?
[195] I mean you've described it there was over a thousand employees er and [...] a large operation as well?
Bill (PS2A2) [196] Yes.
[197] Well there was no division between the, the, well if I might say so, when the there was a fire took place in Brothers in the early sixties and it was an awful unfortunate thing.
[198] Although, perhaps it was fortunate in one sense that er it completely destroyed the main machine shop and er it, it all happened over a period of about twenty to twenty five minutes.
[199] [...] room.
Ken (PS2A3) [200] Can you remember [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [201] I remember er the effects of er working in the department er after the fire.
[202] Erm we were asked by the managing director er a man called W P whom I had a great deal of respect for, because he was a, he was a design engineer by trade and, and craft.
[203] And there wasn't much that Willy didn't know about the business.
[204] But apart from that he, he was a, he was er humorous too by nature and er he was, he was quite free in as much as if you made an approach to him, and he understood that you weren't there just for fun, he would set up a meeting and discuss it with you, er and go into details and at the same time, give you an answer at the earliest possible moment.
[205] But after the fire er Willy [...] er ... requested you know that er the men should carry on working and, and we gave him our assurance that we would do our utmost you know, to keep the place er going.
[206] Er but having said that er h his ... it was, it was terrible.
[207] The, for example, where I worked I had to bale out you know in the morning about thirty pails of water, you know before I could even see my footboard.
[208] And these were the type of conditions that our members worked in, whilst at the same time the management provided plastic roofing you know, but it wasn't efficient and it was cold and bitterly cold if I might say so erm for a long period.
[209] But er to their credit er they got the contractors in and they commenced by putting up new pillars and new roofing structures and it took them about twelve months I think to actually build a new machine shop.
Ken (PS2A3) [210] But during this twelve months you were still actually working [...] ?
Bill (PS2A2) [211] We were still working there.
[212] Er but er and, and the they negotiated er a payment er for working in these er cold conditions for the men who were in the machine shop.
[213] But er at, prior to the fire there was, there was a division between what they called the, the catapult shop, er the machine shop and the fitting shop.
[214] So the new planners thought well why waste all this available space between the various shops?
[215] We can, we can put it all under one roof, and the d the design came out er good erm so that you could walk from the end of the, the machine shop was extended and you could walk from there into the catapult shop directly, or straight into the er fitting base, and thence down onto the welding sections.
[216] Erm and they, they installed heating equipment er which our members accepted with a great deal of delight.
Ken (PS2A3) [laugh]
Bill (PS2A2) [217] Erm because hitherto it was a very cold shop especially in the winter time when it was snowing you know.
[218] Er I don't know if you've experience of steel but when you feel the handles of a, a lathe first thing in a morning it's like lifting pieces of ice and er the heating arrangement took about four hours before it built up you know, to a reasonable working degree.
[219] Whereas the, the heaters that were installed went on thermostatically controlled and er when you went in the morning, the place was nice and warm and you could apply yourself to work right away.
Ken (PS2A3) [220] So when all these changes were going, going on with the, the machinery, the, the bonus system etcetera etcetera you, you think there were other facilities arose around about the same time which made the work environment still more er still better if you like?
Bill (PS2A2) [221] Well the er the new building erm was certainly er safer.
[222] Erm there were new passageways, erm the management er er applied their thoughts to it and altered the, the layout and certain machines were, were put to one side of the machine shop and, and milling machines to the other side you know.
[223] Er and it looked more regulated.
[224] Er and the result was that the heavy casting you know, didn't have to travel ... [break in recording] [...] the system had to be monitored correctly, you had to see that fair play er was the order of the day both in respect of the member and indeed the management to try and reach a er an agreement.
[225] Er but in order to introduce reasonable facilities for shop stewards, we had to make approaches to the management over a period of time.
[226] For instance we had no place to keep our er records, we had er minute books er we used to receive minutes from the management for example, after our monthly meeting with them, er and they were more or less dictated by the er personnel department, who were present at the meeting.
[227] Er and we shared the common objective that these minutes would have to be scrutinized purposefully because if there was any element er in any of the minutes that we didn't disagree with, then we would point it out to the management and had a redraft and have a signed redraft er by the secretary and the convenor, which meant that er at least we were all talking with a common voice.
[228] Er we instigated that procedure and then we went on to try and extend the facilities for shop stewards to be able to take care of the er problems arising out of the incentive scheme.
[229] Now it took several years for er the new incentive scheme to be introduced throughout the whole of the works and I think during my last discussion you know, I did indicate that the fitters for example, you know, were about the last group to go on.
[230] Er and by this time you had several departments, machine departments you know, involved in the process.
[231] And er that had to be regulated, regulated as far as fairness and response to er any claim that our members may make in respect of fairness you know, er and it, to enable them to reach the target bonus.
[232] It might have been a question of time, it may have been a question of tooling, it may have been a question of instruments, it may have been a question of materials, raw materials, or a compilation of all of these things.
[233] Er or indeed you know, the issue er of a job which hadn't been done on a particular machine er but was timed on another one.
[234] There was a whole host of things that had to be monitored by the stewards er on a daily basis.
[235] But erm happily erm we managed to deal with the matters primarily because management agreed that we would have a meeting on a Monday and a meeting on a Thursday, both held in the afternoon, in the last hour of the working day.
[236] Now what happened, and it was a good procedure because what happened was that if anyone say on a Friday had found himself in a difficult situation, we would then discuss it on the Monday afternoon, er bearing in mind that he had taken it to the foreman and had got no response from the foreman, we could discuss it on a Monday afternoon, the convenor and the secretary would deal with it the following day, and in all probability, without having recourse to take it any further, reply to the man that the matter had been resolved and, and to his liking.
[237] Or alternately if it wasn't then we would discuss it again on the Thursday and if it was a failure to agree situation, then we just registered failure to agree with the management.
[238] And we kept these things minuted in a minute book.
[239] Er which was kept in our custody.
Ken (PS2A3) [240] So were, were management quite flexible in that, in that they, you described they allowed, stewards monitored the, the incentive scheme, er they had two weekly meetings, were management quite flexible in that they gave you time off or er whatever?
Bill (PS2A2) [241] Well er in the early days, erm there were occasions where erm if I may say so, that, that just to divert for a moment, the scheme had to have supervision, and there was an increase in the staff, the number of foremen and chargehands increased.
[242] Primarily because the foremen had to regulate their own department as far as er input and output was concerned.
[243] They had to regulate the er flow of materials, from the store to the individuals concerned.
[244] Erm and it became too much for them because people were working more efficient, and therefore there was a an increase in the productivity level, and so they had to increase the number of foremen and chargehands, which wasn't a bad thing because it was always our members that got made up to these respective er positions.
[245] Sometimes you lost a shop steward erm notwithstanding sometimes if the work study department needed a er an extra man er you would lose a shop steward.
[246] Mainly because the stewards had become involved in the incentive er scheme working er and had the best idea you know of how to set times and tooling and everything else.
Ken (PS2A3) [247] That's another interesting point that actually, you're saying there that shop stewards were lost er became foremen, chargehands and whatever.
[248] Did you ever have the feeling that you were almost more a part of management that you were a representative of the workforce?
Bill (PS2A2) [249] Well I never took that er er as a stance erm bearing in mind that er we were there as the bulwarks to defend the interests of the membership in general.
[250] It would have been rather a dangerous step to take you know, to con even consider er that.
[251] Although, from time to time, some of our colleagues on the shop floor who ran into difficulties you know, er sometimes described you as a tool of management, er which was to say the least you know, er entirely untrue.
[252] Erm and once they got the problem resolved, you know, then they became different people.
[253] Er and er as I say,the it was a, it was a line that we could never take objectively.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [254] You could be you could be lured into a position where if, if the management had you by the tails, thinking along the same line, then you could never be an efficient, you know, negotiator.
[255] And I've got to say this, in some cases I had additional time as a shop steward and a convenor, to spend on major problems er affecting the incentive scheme.
[256] Er and I took the time at my own risk, took the time at my own risk er primarily because of that very fact that you were there to support the interests of your members and no one else, no one else.
[257] And er happily we went along in that situation and I've got to say this er I had shop stewards who even if they were new shop stewards coming into the committee, weren't long in developing the same train of thought as ourselves and, and you know we dealt with things in such a manner but er we were efficient just as efficient, you know, as our members were on the production line, and perhaps a little more efficient than the management in determining times.
[258] Because we knew the [...] speeds you know, and er the working of the machinery, the tools and equipment that were necessary to do the jobs, the, the application of er instrumentation you know, er what kind of materials ought to be used, er and, and we went into all that you know, in, in regard to setting up new times.
Ken (PS2A3) [259] Again you, you never felt that you were, because you were doing that, you never had the feeling that perhaps you were becoming too much a part of management rather than er simply representing work or did you simply see it as part of your, your job to look after the incentive scheme in that way because it did er that was a part of representing the workforce?
Bill (PS2A2) [260] Yes indeed er because we had an agreement and er w the men that I worked beside were quite prepared to honour an agreement once it was established.
[261] And it was to their credit that they accepted the new er system er and the new times.
[262] Sometimes new tooling and equipment er and as I said before, a craftsman always looks to see if he can do a particular job better, if not somewhat easier er than hitherto.
[263] And with the help of all these er er pieces of equipment er we found in general that we were reaching a new standard of production, where we were increasing it er and we were able to bargain more strongly and more favourably on behalf of our members.
[264] And as each year went along, erm we were determined as a committee erm that we would lay claims, natural justifiable claims to the employer to increase the remuneration in regard to the incentive scheme.
[265] And it was done successfully in Brothers, I've got to say that.
[266] And to the management's credit, they did respond.
Ken (PS2A3) [267] Talking of the management, er how do you think their attitude changed going through your experience er of negotiation, over the years you were at ?
Bill (PS2A2) [268] Well I would say that er there was a dramatic change er in the management's er er manner of dealing with things.
[269] We were, hitherto erm if a person had a problem regarding er his piecework, er it may never have been er er argued to the point where, when the new system came in we were educated you know to the extent where we knew how to apply ourselves to the argument.
[270] Erm we knew that there was a certain area of profitability attached to the er scheme itself, which the management were happy to receive.
[271] Now having said that, then we had every entitlement to argue the case you know, on a mutually agreed basis, I E to get the management to recognize that there was a fulfilment required from them to reach a mutual agreement with the individual.
[272] Or i a group of individuals if it was necessary.
[273] Er in order that the time could remain set at that without any departing to you know, er feelings of mistrust or anything else.
[274] And we built that, a feeling of trust, rather than you know, apprehension or misapprehension er in the minds of people who were engaged on the previous scheme.
Ken (PS2A3) [275] Do you think, speaking personally, that er management felt quite comfortable over the years, er more comfortable with er being round a table with stewards?
Bill (PS2A2) [276] Yes er I think that er notwithstanding the fact that we only spoke about the er incentive scheme on occasions, we reserved our er judgment as to when we would apply to the management to discuss certain matters.
[277] Matters arising through the procedure from any individual or any group of individuals on the shop floor, was dealt with primarily and respectfully so in regard to the individual making an approach to the foreman, if no settlement was reached then, it was referred to the shop steward in that department, if he couldn't settle it along with the member with the foreman, then he could report it to the er shop stewards committee through the auspices of the secretary or the convenor.
[278] We would then discuss it and take action.
[279] That procedure [...] became operative so effectively that I think the management subsequently realized that unless they had shop stewards who were capable of discussing the matter intently you know, and objectively, then they were on a loser, because they then stood to lose more productivity than hitherto.
[280] So there was the swings and roundabouts where had they not recognized and had come along with us, to the extent that we thought we could do our, a sharing objective er and it brought them out of the, the attitude that was hitherto adopted where well management really couldn't care very much you know, if a man did suffer the loss of er five pound a week or whatever you know, and, and once it was made clear to him that there was no further er er use of the procedure and he could take it through his district you know, if he liked, the man didn't, well on exceptional cases perhaps they may have taken a case through, but er in the majority of cases the man just accepted it, and made up his losses er er later on.
[281] But that was on a slower basis than, than he could make it up under the new scheme.
[282] Under the new scheme, a man er with a little extra effort could afford to offset and compensate his own er er earnings.
[283] But the management did respond and er I think it was just because of the sheer pressure of the shop stewards er making continuous overtures to them on each and every problem that came up, and they were not going to be set aside er with a simple answer er that wouldn't satisfy a member.
[284] We made sure that er on each occasion er we reached a figure or a set of figures that would be mutually acceptable to ask the colleague or colleagues and, and then it was registered in the minutes as a, so we could refer back to er any cases er that were similar and that then made life easier for the shop stewards er who may have had a recurrence of the same problem.
Ken (PS2A3) [285] Well it sounds like the procedures were quite formal, quite highly formal.
Bill (PS2A2) [286] Well they were highly formal, they, and I wouldn't have had them any other way.
[287] Because had we had them any other way, you may have fallen into the dilemma as you've suggested, that the shop stewards may have become part of the management.
[288] Erm in no way were we ever going to consider ourselves part of management.
[289] Had we done that er you would have er you would have been in queer street.
[290] Er and in fact er I would say that had you become recognized as part of management, our members wouldn't have tolerated you as a shop steward.
Ken (PS2A3) [291] Thinking about things like er the Donovan Commission in nineteen sixty eight, did that in any way have any influence, I mean that looked quite closely at er the state of local bargaining.
[292] Did that in any way influence you as a convenor?
Bill (PS2A2) [293] Well I think that er er as I said previously, that erm the engineering industry erm for many years, er was under the influence of national wage negotiations.
[294] Erm in the nineteen fifties and right up until I became a full time official, erm there was generated an opinion that if companies were financially well off, due to the effort of the employees, then there was some formal entitlement for employees in these particular undertakings, to put forward a separate claim at domestic level, to, to enhance their pay.
[295] And erm well this became more or less the policy of the union.
[296] And notwithstanding the, the national minimum time rates were still negotiated and even today, erm our members er in general er helped themselves er not only through the field of increased productivity, but simply through strength of argument.
[297] Er to force the employer into a frame of mind that er well there was a bargaining unit there.
[298] And er I don't think that Donovan did anything other than to enhance that.
[299] Er and to give the shop stewards er a greater degree of recognition [...]
Ken (PS2A3) [300] Again it was a formalization of procedures wasn't it?
[301] A lot of the recommendations [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [302] That's right.
[303] Exactly so.
[304] Exactly so Ken.
[305] Er whereby the procedures er at national level, you see the procedures at national level er are quite explicit that er in the national handbook, any matter arising whereby the tools or the materials or the conditions attached to certain jobs, are offered, then our members have the right er to take the matter up with the management.
[306] Now that applies to any matter arising, and subsequently I think that er the Donovan Report more or less reinforced er that particular er er procedure, although it had been written into our national agreement er as far back as I can remember.
[307] And er, but I felt and I feel looking back on that particular er decade between nineteen sixty and nineteen seventy, that the work which the shop steward's movement did er even in a preliminary way, prior to the Donovan Report coming out, was based on reason and fair play.
[308] Many companies er were making fabulous profits and what reason was there to prevent a good shop stewards' committee from going in to try and enhance their members conditions?
[309] And after all you know, from all labour there is profit.
[310] And our members share that [...] .
[311] I've not, there's a conviction that er if management were making money, then why couldn't they get a reasonable increase in pay.
[312] Now we did go through dramatic exercises in the nineteen sixties, erm where we entered into a three year agreement er on wages settlement at national level.
[313] Erm the preponderance of our members throughout the length and breadth of the country, er initially was not to accept three year package deals.
[314] Er and the only reason that I thought they may have been favourable, would have been based on the principle of fair play, but then erm when you think of er companies who are making profits from year to year which were in excess of the previous years, then by the time three years expired, our members could have been in a loss situation, if indeed they hadn't gone forward and argued the case at domestic level.
[315] Now within the national settlements at that time, there was always provision left that if our members erm were in receipt of pay which was more than the national minimum time rate, then that would satisfy the terms of the agreement.
[316] [...] . Having said that there was always another clause which said that er there would be nothing to prevent our members from bargaining at domestic level.
[317] And that was always inherent in our minds you know, as shop stewards.
[318] It was a fundamental principle that we never er er er put aside, because we felt that er well as I say if, if a company was being profitable, there was every reason why we should go in and increase our members' er er standard of living.
Ken (PS2A3) [319] Do you have any recollections of any particular disputes and maybe an answer that you could possibly sort of, make a few comments on whether you felt the the procedures were worked out so finely that they in fact prevented disputes because they were so long and drawn out perhaps or er it took the fire out of disputes if you like?
Bill (PS2A2) [320] I think that er one of the things that we had to examine at national level er and this was done erm after I became a full time officer, erm there'd usually be a procedure in the national agreement er whereby first of all if we registered failure to agree at domestic level, erm with the management, the next stage was to draw in the district secretary.
[321] Er if the district secretary failed to agree, then it was referred to the divisional officer.
[322] At that stage the divisional officer may have taken it away from the domestic scene, and er put it through to Glasgow if it was the, if the employer was a member of the employers' association, he would then take it to local conference.
[323] Now local conference usually was held as quickly as possible erm but when you went to local conference as an official, you were then faced with obviously the employer who was concerned in the case, an independent chairman of the employers, but a battery of other members of the employers' association who were unattached to the actual claim itself.
[324] And you discussed it with that body of er people at local conference.
[325] If you eventually failed to agree at that level, then you would have to register failure to agree as you did in all other cases you know, leading up to that stage.
[326] And indicate to the employers that you were then transferring the matter to central conference.
[327] Now central conference, by the time you went through all the stages of procedure it may take you ei possibly six to nine months, in some cases, sometimes it was held earlier.
[328] But erm it could take that length of time.
[329] Erm I remember taking two cases when the procedure was still invoked and it was a company in Edinburgh, it was as, as a matter of fact.
[330] And on both occasion we were successful, but there were other people there from different parts of the country, who were not successful.
[331] And subsequently after a long period of time, the opinions of our members generally was that we should change the, the procedure.
[332] And once the divisional organizer was in, that would be the terminating point of or the end of the procedure as such.
[333] So there would be no local conference neither would there be any central conference, and that's how it prevailed after the changes were invoked by the rule revision.
[334] Erm I'm not so sure that in some cases er it, it's to our members benefit.
[335] Obviously erm people may argue the case with me.
[336] Er but er in my own opinion, I think that er employers were more or less forced, in the same way as we were, to recognize that they had a problem on their hands.
[337] And the longer they dealt with it, the more aggravated our members could become on a shop floor, or that they could have additional disputes you know, on their hands, because of the fact that the dispute or the, the problem had lasted so long.
Ken (PS2A3) [338] So you don't necessarily believe that protracted negotiation er necessarily takes the heat out of a dispute, in fact it may worsen it?
Bill (PS2A2) [339] It could worsen it.
[340] On the other hand erm if you're looking at, obviously sometimes our members felt that there was a benefit, at least the employer wasn't getting, wasn't getting off the hook as far as the matter was concerned, the matter arising was concerned, and therefore he was left with a problem just the same as we were.
[341] And therefore in the interim period things had to be you know, you had to treat people fairly in order not to let them be of the belief er that going to er central conference was just an exercise.
[342] Because you know both parties were there to make sure that er there was going to be a mutual agreement or it may in some instances be referred back to domestic level for resolution, or alternately, the employers just said, no and that, that was the end of it at that stage.
[343] And at that stage, our members were then at the s at the point where they could take industrial action, if they so desired.
[344] After notifying the executive council.
Ken (PS2A3) [345] Thinking back to your time on the stewards' committee, did that situation arise er very commonly, very regularly?
[346] Er and what was your sort of feeling at that time er about taking such as unofficial action for example?
Bill (PS2A2) [347] Well er I was never of the opinion that we should be taking unofficial action.
[348] Erm I always thought, as did most of our stewards, when I say most of out stewards, there was always the occasional steward that felt er the desire you know, was, was justified, that the matter should be dealt with now, and because the management didn't respond effectively, then we should walk out the door.
[349] Erm well that's easy.
[350] It's easy and it would have been easy for me to get up on a platform or to go into the department and say, look lads, you know, we feel that you're justified in walking out the door.
[351] But there's a procedure and the procedure, our stewards recognized that the procedure was there to be effectively operated and if words can resolve a problem, and that's how we became trained in the situation [...] affecting all our members.
[352] Erm if words can resolve the problem, then at the end of the day, there's no need for a man or a body of men to lose money.
[353] And we did that effectively.
[354] And that's why I'm saying that, leading up to the Donovan Report and because I was caught up in a situation along with my colleagues, that we were changing a system er and you know, a new incentive scheme, that we were increasing production.
[355] With all the oscillation that was involved in that er shop stewards taking cases up, the shop stewards discussing it with the management, the management's involvement, the management's attitude becoming gradually, not weakened but er inured to the stewards' fundamental logical claims on behalf of their members, made it easier you know, and progress was, was being noted that, and earnings were rising, earnings were rising.
[356] And er it was, it was acceptable by our members in general, that we were achieving the aims and objective of the basis of the whole incentive scheme you know, notwithstanding a lot of other things that was accompanied by, because we could [laugh] we could then say to the management on most occasions, well we could do with something here that would help health and safety.
[357] You know, if we thought that there was a need for new footboar boards or anything like that, it was no problem, no problem.
[358] It was just a question of time.
[359] And the less of time that it took, the better.
[360] But we got, we got the things done in that respect.
Ken (PS2A3) [361] Again taking you back to when you were a steward, erm what do you recall your relations personally and the relations generally er between the stewards and the full timers, the officials of the union?
Bill (PS2A2) [362] Well erm I've got to say this, that er as a shop steward, the record that I inherited er was one of very little confrontation between the employer and the union as far as union officials are concerned.
[363] And in twelve years as an experienced shop steward, I can only recall having a full time officer in I think on three occasions.
[364] And as I say, the more competent the stewards' committee became, the less frequent that it was necessary to have the sh the full time officers in.
[365] Er if I may say so, erm it was early in our career that er in my career that er along with the shop stewards, we disagreed in principle with the management on an annual wage increase.
[366] Er and I think it was about nineteen sixty two or thereabouts.
[367] And er I was determined that er we wouldn't lose hold of this claim because it was a good claim, it was a logical claim, it was one that could be answered by the management and could be er er put into effect without any delay in time.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [368] There was a slight stubbornness on part of the management, simply because I think they were not, at that stage, inured to the shop steward's effective way of dealing with things.
[369] They wanted to push in the incentive scheme throughout the shop and they were busily engaged in doing that, and were rather blinded you know, to the claims that were coming through.
[370] And so to try and bring them to heel, er we referred the matter to the district.
[371] The district committee, the A G E W district committee, er recognized that it was something that er was a confederation exercise because it covered all aspects of the workforce, and therefore you had er engineers and, and the sheet metal workers and electricians and pattern makers, everybody within the confed in Brothers was affected by it.
[372] So we referred it to the confed and er we had the officers down and the matter was resolved and we got our increase and it was acceptable by everybody.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [373] Erm I think that was the only occasion that we had difficulty in respect of a wages claim.
[374] What we did have difficulty was er with an odd occasion where a man was on the verge of being dismissed.
[375] When I say that, he was sent up the road on suspension er with the intention of management that they would look into the case and you know, possibly dismiss.
[376] And on this particular occasion it was a man who was engaged t on Admiralty work of a very er significant nature.
[377] Er fine, fine limits in the bores of the object er piece of work that he was doing.
[378] And a slight slip you know, had taken him half a thou over the bore.
[379] Now what was required then was that although the job was in a rush, the management had to telephone down to the Admiralty in Bath to get the appropriate sanction you know, to, to accept the cylinder with the er bigger gauge bore.
[380] Erm and we're talking about half a thousandth of an inch, and for that you know, the man, but when I investigated the case, the man had been working on these things for about three or four weeks.
[381] Erm his brain when you're talking about human endeavour and craft skill you know, to enable you to get to that stage of, of er er fine working, erm takes a lot of intensive you know, er er attitude.
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [382] And the man had made a slight slip, and for that he was being penalized.
[383] And we, we just stood aside from that and said to the employer, look here, if you don't bring him back on Monday, erm I'm afraid there'll be nobody here tomorrow right.
[384] Er and the management equally sort of stood back and said, well if that's your attitude, er you can do what you like.
[385] So er that was a telephone call to the divisional officer, who was available at the moment and who came down and discussed it with the employer and notwithstanding that, in the afternoon I had given the management one hour to resolve the problem otherwise there was going to be a major walkout.
[386] And happily we got resolved, happily we got it resolved.
[387] Erm there are days, occasions that could have sparked off major confrontation with the trade unions binding, the members binding themselves together to protect the interests of one of their colleagues.
[388] And that's what the trade unionism is all about.
[389] You know, we don't stand back idly and see one man penalized.
[390] Er and therefore when it got round the workshop what had happened and why he had been er suspended you know, initially the ire of our members rose and subsequently er the place just ground to a halt and there was a meeting and therefore we put the point to the management that er if they didn't really in a reasonable manner, then we were going.
[391] But we resolved it and er happily the divisional organizer resolved it er I would say in about twenty minutes when he came down.
[392] But it
Ken (PS2A3) [...]
Bill (PS2A2) [393] was with the pressure of the membership behind him that did it.
Ken (PS2A3) [394] Were the, the stewards formally involved in disciplinary procedure?
Bill (PS2A2) [395] Erm we didn't have what was known nowadays as a formal disciplinary procedure.
[396] Erm disciplinary procedures are now written into agreements with the unions.
[397] Erm but in these days erm I think that managements were in the main er fairly well off as far as employees' attitudes were concerned.
[398] Employees' attitudes er were fairly stable, fairly stable and some of the work that was done was so highly skilled er that it needed a craftsman's experience to be able to get to that stage of being able to turn a job you know, to very fine limits, or to grind an objective to absolutely no limits, or to, to assemble a job with all the skill and the know-how that had been built up over his twenty five or thirty years' experience you know, along with his colleagues.
[399] Erm and so therefore most people were busily engaged all of the eight hour day.
[400] And erm it was to the management's credit that we didn't need to invoke any er disciplinary procedure as such.
[401] Although it was always recognized that er there were limits to which a person could go.
Ken (PS2A3) [402] I was interested in you talking there about you know, that one, that particular case whereby one bloke was threatened with dismissal and very rapidly [...] the way you describe it, the men came back with a threat of strike action.
[403] I mean did you, do you think that that kind of feeling that kind of solidarity spread beyond er if there was any news filtering through about another engineering factory in dispute or whatever?
[404] What sort of feeling was there about that kind of
Bill (PS2A2) [405] Yes I think, I think in general, er it, it was, it was occasionally erm heard of in other undertakings where this happened.
[406] Erm
Ken (PS2A3) [407] But I'm thinking about di er disputes in general though not just disciplinary disputes.
Bill (PS2A2) [408] Yes.
[409] Yes.
[410] Well disputes in general of course, er in different undertakings, there was a different attitude.
[411] Erm for instance in the dockyards, erm where conditions weren't broadly the same as was prevalent for example say, in Brothers or or .
[412] Erm you're talking about people working outside in elements er you know, natural elements such as might be brought to bear in the month of January or February.
[413] Er and er a similar incident took place for example.
[414] Er there would be a walkout, there would be a wa there would be no long discussion of it.
[415] There would be simply a walkout and the men would stay out until management either conceded to listen to one of their representatives and resolved the matter then and there.
Ken (PS2A3) [416] What I'm driving at is, did in your, in the time you were there ever the, the workers ever get into a situation where they wanted to come out in support of another dispute in another place of work?
Bill (PS2A2) [417] No.
[418] Erm not really because, well when I say that, erm generally speaking there was this er surge towards domestic types of agreements which tended to isolate erm district action.
[419] At one time for example, you see, there used to be an Edinburgh district rate way back in history.
[420] And managements usually conformed to its application.
[421] If for example the full time officers er negotiated with you know, for a district rate, erm Brothers and, and, and er er or whoever would concede that district rate.
[422] But erm, and you could always refer to it in your dialogue with them if you had a claim to make, er that they were only paying the district rate.
[423] On the other hand, various districts had differential rates, and those who had above yours, you normally quoted.
[424] And erm you could use that in your, your dialogue with the management.
[425] So there was always that tendency in our members minds you know to refer to various districts and er earlier in my submissions I did say that there was a disparity in earnings, especially between the Scotland and England er to, to something like seven percent if not even more than that in certain undertakings.
[426] So you were always, you were always faced with this er coming from the membership you know, that we were always like the cow's tail you know, we'll always be behind.
[427] Er although erm basically speaking you were normally talking about basic rates rather than earnings.
[428] And if you quoted the earnings as opposed to some of these undertakings or districts, erm then there was a wide gap you know er which we felt the benefit of rather than the reverse.