Gwynedd County Council tape 19: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 7138 words speech recorded in leisure context

4 speakers recorded by respondent number C400

PS3B6 Ag5 m (Robert, age 60+, retired miner) unspecified
PS3B7 X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Speaks with a stutter) unspecified
HMMPSUNK (respondent W0000) X u (Unknown speaker, age unknown) other
HMMPSUGP (respondent W000M) X u (Group of unknown speakers, age unknown) other

1 recordings

  1. Tape 106801 recorded on 1986. LocationGwynedd: Merionethshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview, reminiscences

Undivided text

Unknown speaker (HMMPSUNK) [1] When you're ready what would be what things will we shall we start with?
(PS3B7) [2] Well erm sort of how how you how you became involved in the erm in the strike.
Robert (PS3B6) [3] In the strike, are we starting off with this stuff?
(PS3B7) [4] Yes.
Robert (PS3B6) [5] Not now?
(PS3B7) [6] Yes now.
Robert (PS3B6) [7] Oh.
[8] Well we started off and we were working for .
[9] And we and then we had been working for him for about ten or eleven years on this contract that he had for us.
[10] And erm his son came along to take over from him.
[11] And he put a new table in the mill.
[12] And erm being as he put a new table in the mill he thought we could work for thirty pound a week less, on this table.
[13] And we could produce more slate on erm thirty pound a week less in wages.
[14] Well none of the lads were prepared to take that on, cos we'd been on this contract with for the last eleven years.
[15] And was quite happy and all the workers was happy until this son came along .
[16] And that's what's got us fixed in all this trouble.
(PS3B7) [17] You said that you'd worked erm quite happily for er t t
Robert (PS3B6) [18] Oh yeah everybody was happy.
(PS3B7) [19] Yeah.
Robert (PS3B6) [20] Aha.
(PS3B7) [21] Can you give me some idea of erm h how you started up with him in the first place?
Robert (PS3B6) [22] Well he bought this slate quarry to scrap it.
[23] I believe he er didn't give much for the quarry.
[24] But somebody put him on there was slate to be had, only a if you had a machine to clear.
[25] And he started clearing to get this slate, and he got at the slate quite quick.
[26] But we were working for him then for fourteen pound a week.
[27] And make preparing the mill ready for the slate.
[28] To ma make putting fixing new tables in and that.
[29] And erm anyway we got more from the unemployment exchange that prepared to work for him for fourteen pound, when we could have a eighteen pound on the dole.
[30] Four pound a week more on the dole, cos we were having elected earnings and tax rebates on the dole and it and it made it up to eighteen pound.
[31] And we were working for for fourteen pound ... at that time.
(PS3B7) [32] I sup erm at that time was there a a a a lot of men who had work in the quarries
Robert (PS3B6) [33] Well
(PS3B7) [34] on the dole?
Robert (PS3B6) [35] Well everybody that was working for him had always worked in the quarries all their life, and they er they just been working for the slater company before the quarry shut down.
[36] And that's the time they were put off work when the quarry, of the why the quarry shut it, they had too much expense on the electricity to pump the water from this from the mine.
[37] That's why er the quarry shut.
[38] Or the quarry would have carried on with this slate mine.
(PS3B7) [39] How many p people d di did he take on at that time then, when he first took over ?
Robert (PS3B6) [40] There was about six to start with.
(PS3B7) [41] How did he select them?
Robert (PS3B6) [42] Well he knew they were all slate quarry workers, and that's how he went on to them.
[43] He knew they were all slate quarry workers and they were prepared to work the slate again.
[44] Every one of them.
(PS3B7) [45] Were they were they men [clears throat] who had erm a l lot of expertise in in in the slate?
Robert (PS3B6) [46] Yes all their lives you know they'd worked.
[47] We've all worked in these slate mines since we left school.
[48] I I left school before the war when I was fourteen, we all went in the slates.
[49] Cos everybody was working in the slate then.
[50] Hundreds of men working in the slates.
[51] My fathers and grandfathers all worked in the slate, they seen nothing only slate.
[52] And when the war broke out of course, everybody left the mines.
[53] Cos there was more money else where.
[54] We were working for, my father was er earning one pound sixteen shillings a week before the war.
[55] When the war broke out that made a world of difference for everybody.
[56] The wages stepped up.
[57] I went into erm aer aerodrome you know be we were having working seven days a week and we were having seven pound a week.
[58] A pound a day and we were millionaires weren't we?
[59] Aye millionaires.
[60] Only because the war broke out.
[61] Yes.
[62] And then from there, in nineteen forty three, I was called up.
[63] And was going back to twelve and six a week after, to the forces.
[64] And I wasn't long in this country they shoved me over, Normandy, on the landing in Normandy.
[65] And all I got for that was a couple of tin medals, uh uh, aye dear ... Aye.
(PS3B7) [66] When you er when started up again, opened up the the quarry.
Robert (PS3B6) [67] Yeah.
(PS3B7) [68] Can you tell me all the sort of work that you were al er engaged in?
Robert (PS3B6) [69] [clears throat] Well to prepare the mill, we were erm concreting and or doing knocking all the old tables down and preparing get the er big saw table in, you know to diamond saw table in to cut the slate up.
[70] Erm or any other little fork lift there which the quarry belonged then.
[71] And was on to us, he only had four thousand five hundred that's all the money he had, that's all I've got four thousand five hundred.
[72] And believe me in a couple of weeks after we got the slate for him.
[73] We had a new fork lift, we had tools galore, everything was coming in.
[74] There must be money in slate.
[75] And in no time after that built a massive big bungalow for himself.
[76] He had a brand new Mercs.
[77] Every money was coming in everywhere.
[78] From a poor man he didn't half step up.
[79] Aye in no time, cos there must be money in slate ... [laugh] Aye.
(PS3B7) [80] [cough] Mm.
Robert (PS3B6) [81] Yes he stepped up, right diddly me.
[82] And then his son they had a Mercs each, and he's built a new bungalow now in they've all got massive big places, it's fantastic the money they made out of it.
[83] And this is what they ga ga done with the lads in the end.
[84] Just shoved them off, put them on the dole, [sniff] and there was some young lads that I I wasn't worried myself, cos I I'm in my sixties, but there was lads there with mortgages and kids.
[85] He didn't think of them either eh.
[86] There's lads of real trouble there, but there was lads you know young lads with kids and mortgages and and we had er he I'm sixty all your worries are over aren't they.
[87] But there are young lads there.
[88] What he didn't worry about them either he didn't care who who went, just that he we he had his own way.
(PS3B7) [89] W w when you were starting off aga when you were starting off with erm was there any sense in that you were all including him involved in a joint enterprise to g g g g get the quarry really being profitable?
Robert (PS3B6) [90] Well what he said to us, if I go up we go up together, he said.
[91] If I make money I I'll make you I can pay you as well, if I go up I mean if I go down, he said, I can go up or down as well , he said.
[92] That's what he said, and he kept on saying he had only four thousand five hundred pounds or something, that's all the money he had, he was on about that all the time.
[93] But he he didn't half make money cos he had nothing before that.
[94] He had that coal business, but no money, he had no money there.
[95] But that slate quarry put him on his feet all right.
(PS3B7) [96] W w w why do you think his approach t t to the extraction of slate was successful.
[97] Where as the previous owners had erm had great problems with f fl fl flooding?
Robert (PS3B6) [98] Well he worked the slates from outside you know.
[99] They were all slate there, the old new there was slate there, but they weren't prepared to get the machines to clear it, at it.
[100] Where as he bought these machines and cleared up the rubbish to get at the slate.
[101] Cos the lads knew where the slates was, and it wasn't far from the surface.
[102] There was plenty of slate there but he he just slate mines wouldn't pay t to get these machines, and course this grant story this had you know millions of pounds of grants for these machines and that.
[103] We know he had fantastic grants, we know how much he had, you know when we went on this strike.
[104] We got to know all the money he had from these grants to get all these machines and all these.
[105] Every penny he was paying he was having grant for it from the government ... Aye.
(PS3B7) [106] Where you aw aw aw a a aware of that you were in a a b business that was succeeding when you were working for him?
Robert (PS3B6) [107] Oh yes, we everybody knew of that of the slate we were making, you know cos erm we were making about two thousand duchess a day. [sniff]
(PS3B7) [108] What
Robert (PS3B6) [109] In twenty four fourteens and twenty t twenty two hours an this fantastic you know, the slate cos it was good slate there.
[110] And there's no contract to start with, the first year or two there was no contract at all.
[111] And we had terrible job getting a contract off him.
[112] He wouldn't give a contract and he wanted us to work like on the, make plenty of slate but he wouldn't you know, he wasn't prepared, thee to pay.
[113] But we did manage to get the contract from him after.
[114] But he wasn't prepared to give a contract to start with.
[115] [sniff] Out of all the slate mines, of all the years that has gone I've always worked on a contract.
[116] That's been the bo the system of these slate mines.
[117] There was used t the work in the old days, there was used to be two underground and two in the mill, they used to be partners.
[118] The the lads underground used to send the blocks up, and the lads in the mill used to make produce the slates out of them, and they were all partners these four.
[119] And there was hundreds of contracts like that in the quarry, everybody was on their own for t thing, you know.
[120] Not one big contract but everybody on their own little contracts.
[121] Four four men in each contract, that's how they were.
[122] That's how they carried it out in the old days, in every quarry.
[123] But in this quarry now in when we were working for everybody was on the same bonus, you know they was they were all partners.
[124] Everybody in the erm in the er on the slate face and everybody in the mill were partners, everybody.
[125] Get the same wages [sniff] not like the old days then, they were all individual partners then in four you know, in each partner work working.
(PS3B7) [126] When you came to get your your contract with er te te te and you were all in the same c contract, was that because you got together as a union, or whether you got t together as the worker?
Robert (PS3B6) [127] Oh we were all together, and the union was behind us, you know the union was with us.
(PS3B7) [128] Even in that early day?
Robert (PS3B6) [129] Oh yes, we had the union with us all the time, from the start you know.
[130] Everybody paid the union then, aye ... everybody was a union man there.
[131] But erm you know when we were on the strike if these lads wouldn't have gone back, there was couple of scabs went back into the quarry.
[132] It's them that made it worse for the others, if everybody had a stayed up together, and and stayed out, we we everybody had the same troubles, money trouble.
[133] Cos there was youngsters there who that stayed out with us, they had mortgages.
[134] And these scabs that went back, well they're the ones that let us down.
[135] St
(PS3B7) [136] D d d do you think you you you would have succeeded?
Robert (PS3B6) [137] Oh yes, if everybody would have stayed out they would never had a scrap of slate made there, everybody would have stayed out and stayed out till the end, and not a scrap of slate would have been made there.
[138] But these scabs went back and made slates, and there was erm two officials there, they they'd never made slate when we were working up there.
[139] But when we went on strike they started making slate, so in a way they were scabs too, in these two officials, officials not touched a slate if they were er not making slate before, why should they make slate when we were on strike?
(PS3B7) [140] D d did they know how to s how to make slate?
Robert (PS3B6) [141] Oh yeah, well they weren't good slaters as the, you know, but they did produce slate there, but they didn't they weren't good slaters the just that, well they make slate but.
[142] If they wouldn't have made a scrap of slate it would have a world of difference to this strike.
[143] Not a scrap of slate would have been made there, and he would have had to do something with us then.
[144] But these scabs went back and that's what really ruined this strike.
(PS3B7) [145] Had you any had you any clue at all that they were going to go back?
Robert (PS3B6) [146] Well yes we had you could see on some of them, they didn't want much to turn them on, you know there was two or three there and they they took some others with them of course then didn't they, you know.
[147] If you get one or two that prepared to go the others w drop one by one back then wou that's how they went.
[148] But there was two or three there, when the strike started you couldn't trust them, they were scabs from the start.
[149] They weren't prepared to stay out.
(PS3B7) [150] Where they men who had been quarry men?
Robert (PS3B6) [151] Well no they weren't really, they weren't they hadn't worked in the quarry like like us.
[152] They only did they were new to the quarry really.
[153] But they were on this bonus system you know, they were you know on the bonus but they weren't quarry men.
[154] They didn they ne hadn't been working in a quarry all that long.
(PS3B7) [155] What sort of work had they erm been engaged in?
Robert (PS3B6) [156] Well driving and for erm you know he had plant hire, he'd been driving for him and that.
[157] That's what they had been doing before.
[158] They hadn't been working on the slate face, they hadn't worked any slate, but they were doing all right on the tables, you know on the sawing the slate up for the others.
[159] And then you had a couple of scabs, they were slaters, this is one or two of them, they went back.
[160] And so with the help of these, they just managed to do a bit of slate, but if them had not gone back, I thinks this this strike would have turned the other way.
[161] Stop 'em having any any slate at all, that's what we wanted to do.
[162] You stop 'em from any s scrap of slate e .
(PS3B7) [163] C c can you gi give me some clue now a about w when the penny began to drop that trouble was going to g g going to start?
Robert (PS3B6) [164] Well no when we started when the strike started in the mill, I told then, you know y I don't know what you are going to do with us, I said, but the way you are carrying on now you are going to bring trouble into this quarry, cos these lads aren't going to give in to you at all that quick, what you're trying to do, make them work for thirty pound a week less, so you better think it over now, I said, before it gets any worse.
[165] But he wasn't prepared to do that, he just, he wasn't worried about us.
[166] He'd put his mind to it that he wouldn't, you know this he had it in mind that we were going to work for this thirty pound a week less, take it or leave it.
[167] He wasn't prepared to do anything else.
[168] Wasn't prepared to to let us go on now that same wages as before.
(PS3B7) [169] How did i it come about that y you were placed in the situation that you were going to get thirty pounds a week less?
Robert (PS3B6) [170] Well he s all he made a little contract out himself, you know that's what he did, after he he'd put these new tables in the mill.
[171] He made a contract then out for us.
[172] And we worked on this contract for two month, to try it out for him but we were thirty pound a week less, and we had over two hundred slates a day more, on the on this contract.
[173] T we were thirty pound a week less.
[174] [background smash] But nobody was prepared for it, to take it and that's how it was.
(PS3B7) [175] [cough] What w was it about th the new tables that produced the situation?
Robert (PS3B6) [176] Well these tables he bought, well I hadn't seen tables like that before, he bought them in Italy somewhere.
[177] And they were sawing these slates in into blocks, you know sawing them square like into the size of the slate, they were quite handy.
[178] But the time involved to saw them was too much.
[179] The other table what we had before was better, was no much so much time involved, by the time you'd screw them round and turn 'em, to saw them into blocks there was a lot of time involved in it.
[180] Cos we're loosing a lot on 'em.
[181] But they were handy when you had them sawed, cos they were quicker for the slate, I said to er splitter they were quicker then to split 'em up.
[182] But we found we were sawing a lot of stuff up, was no good for the slate making, you know it it's got to be good for slate making, a lot of veins and lots of muck in 'em.
[183] But the tables were good then but erm too much time involved in them, in in sawing with in them.
[184] That's what I found out.
(PS3B7) [185] W w where they w w once when they'd been installed or was it thought that it a mistake had been made in obviously a lot of cash had been spent on them but erm, was it considered a mis a waste of money or?
Robert (PS3B6) [186] Well it was a waste well I'll tell you what it was really, he saw a lot of waste on the other tables going on the tip you know, there was a lot of waste going over.
[187] Well these tables were doing away with a lot of waste.
[188] Getting more slates not so much waste out of them, cos these tables were sawing er them into blocks.
[189] There was no what we call, ends on on the slate, you know going over the tip, there was not so much waste with them there as the new tables.
(PS3B7) [190] Why is it that this machine c c could trim it on all sides?
Robert (PS3B6) [191] Yeah we used to trim 'em with a hammer and chisel before
(PS3B7) [192] Yeah.
Robert (PS3B6) [193] and there was a lot of waste, but these new tables did bring that, it was something for the company it was more than anything, you know cos we were on the bonus system.
[194] Slate we wanted to produce we want, you know if there a lot a bit of waste going over the tip, we weren't so much worried bout the waste, cos we was on the bonus we were making the slates and that.
[195] But he was worried more about the waste then then ours contract ... That's what he was ... cos there was a lot of waste on the old tables, and they make a bit more waste than on these new tables there.
(PS3B7) [196] [clears throat] Ha ha ha ha how did it come about that you were on you were on one side very firmly and the employers were on the other side very firmly and sides had been had been drawn up?
Robert (PS3B6) [197] [sigh] [cough] Well I don't think and nobody will turn this you know this he nobody would, he'd put his mind to something and there is nobody on earth that could turn him.
[198] Nobody on earth could turn him to do er to er change his mind.
[199] And behind him again there was his son-in-law, you know that only he's worse than .
[200] Then the one that runs the quarry to us, he's well he's worse only he was behind it in a way, he had he was the one with the brains, he was the one that new how to get the men to work for nothing.
[201] He was behind ee he had the brains, and was carrying it out for him, cos erm ... this erm I dunno if you know him eh, he runs this quarry to us up here.
[202] Oh he's terrible there, he even had them he had young girls working for him up there, and they found out they were paying he was paying them too little and then he got caught up with 'em, and erm what he done after he charged for taking them up there in the morning and charged 'em for taking them down in the evening with a Land Rover.
[203] So he had them both ways didn't he?
[204] He's a terrible man that one.
[205] Aye but he was behind the this cos they're all in the in the same boat you know, they're all families, family affair isn't it.
[206] But they say the old man didn't have anything to do with it, but I dunno, he could have had something to do with it, I dunno.
[207] I I dunno there ...
(PS3B7) [208] Can you give some idea of how it came about that you in fact decided ... strike?
Robert (PS3B6) [209] When we started [cough] well we were in trouble in York [tape change] When we at then we were going on the go slow system you know, we didn't produce much slate we were on the go work to rule.
[210] We let this carry that out for a month or so, and he was very annoyed about it.
[211] And then erm the lads in both they had decided they were gonna go on the go slow, but they were told if you go go on the on the go slow system, you're gonna go home, he said, I'm not prepared to carry on with that, he said, the manager there, that's brother that is.
[212] When a they were sent home from we went home from this quarry then, and the everybody went home so the the were forty of us in altogether.
[213] Everybody went home an, we were all on picket line after.
(PS3B7) [214] Have you got any idea of [clears throat] w what they thought then of the fact that you were all acting, the three quarries, were acting as erm one body?
Robert (PS3B6) [215] Well we were all union members, and everybody wanted to be together, if you are if you are in the union well we had to stuck together an the the more we stayed together the stronger we are, to keep out if we can stay out.
[216] That's what we always thinking of ain't it.
[217] And it was last August, last August Bank Holiday this was started, just before the Bank Holiday weekend when i cos we were all on that gates, Bank Holiday weeks, stopping all the traffic going in there ... Yea ... That's how the know is, maybe if we'd a gone back then and,yo you know, if he, he offered us to go back then about September.
[218] Yeah to go back to work on this Thursday but we didn't go an all we should have gone then.
[219] And tried to get some settlement, but I don't believe it are giving us any settlement cos he wasn't prepared to do anything like that.
[220] And I know he had, you know he was stubborn, he wouldn't give in, nobody would he give in to nobody then.
[221] He was stupid, stubborn that's what he was.
(PS3B7) [222] When you first erm when you first came out on strike.
[223] Did you have any idea how long you would be out
Robert (PS3B6) [224] Well everybody thought we'd be out for a week or so, but we were out for a month or er more when these scabs started going back.
[225] Well I knew then it was gonna finish off, you know.
[226] If more would have gone back then the strike would have come to an end quicker cos, I thought more would have gone back then, but all the lads in they stayed out and nobody went in ... to work.
(PS3B7) [227] When the others went back to work, how did you manage to stop anyone else from going back to work?
Robert (PS3B6) [228] Well all th all these lads that have gone back, they were having a hell of a life in the town of course.
[229] [cough] If they went for a drink everybody was calling them scabs and if they went anywhere then, some some had their cars sprayed with paint and oh they had everything done, they were all against them.
[230] And the still now.
[231] The they were scabs then and the scabs now, and they'll always be scabs all their lives now.
[232] They will be called scabs wherever they go.
(PS3B7) [233] Er even e even n now they are marked men yes?
Robert (PS3B6) [234] Yes they'd like if they were in South Wales, in South Wales you know if your grandfather was a scab, you'd be a scab wouldn't you, they carry it out in generations there.
[235] And I believe, in this it's brought a lot of thing in this town there small town like this.
[236] Cos these lads now that have gone back, and they were scabs then and they'll scabs they will be all their lives now.
[237] Everybody will be looking at them as scabs, wherever they go.
[238] No matter what they do ... they'll always be scabs.
[239] No, and as for and I dunno.
[240] I suppose they've shot better men than 'em ... Aye..
(PS3B7) [241] Yes
Robert (PS3B6) [242] Could be.
[243] I couldn't have shot any worse I don't think ... so I don't know what'll happen.
[244] Well I'm not worried cos I'm over sixty there, but these lads, I'm worried about these lads, that have mortgages and children to rear up they had lots of worries, and they still have.
[245] But these quarry owners they're not worried about them.
[246] They just worried about themselves ...
(PS3B7) [247] Mm is it rather on the ye yo yo you said earlier on that er the old s s system of striking bargains was on a individual basis?
Robert (PS3B6) [248] Yes.
(PS3B7) [249] [...] on, on a team of or a contract of four men.
[250] So there's obviously a tradition of people of the quarry men and the quarry owners talking to each other.
Robert (PS3B6) [251] Yeah.
(PS3B7) [252] Was the fact that there was no talking going on, completely surprising from the point of view of the tradition of bargaining?
Robert (PS3B6) [253] Yeah well in the old days, you know [cough] everybody was in the union.
[254] You couldn't work in the quarry, you couldn't go through the gate in the quarry without being a union man, in the old days there.
[255] And there was this system of four men in a bargain, nobody knew the other man's wages, we were all on different wage, everybody was on a different wage.
[256] And if you were well in with the staff and the owners of the quarry you'd have more bonus.
[257] They'd fix you up with er better bonus, but if you were a black leg they'd er be on less wagers.
[258] That's what is was it was a terrible system there, but that was the system, that was the system they carried through the quarries in all the years that are gone.
[259] It is contract it's a monthly contract you work for three weeks for one pound sixteen shillings and at the end of the month they count all the slates you've done during the month.
[260] And you get this little bonus at the end of the month, maybe a couple of quid on top of your one pound sixteen shillings.
[261] That's what they were doing, and then if you made too much slate this month, the following month they'd drop your bonus down, so as to see as to keep you on the same level, so you couldn't go any higher if you if you had good slate and worked your guts out.
[262] And the following month they drop you, that's how they used to do it ...
(PS3B7) [263] Was there any sense that er you were in fact being put in the same position as your parents had been your your grandparents, had been in in in the sense not being able to get above a certain level by having your wages your bonus cut?
Robert (PS3B6) [264] Well they I I tell you this they they we'd worked for him for er good many years and there was no talk of any cuts in wages, we had this wages all through the through these years, and everybody was happy with it.
[265] Everybody were working on it and everybody was working a g a g a good days work and hard cos slate quarry work has always been hard anyway.
[266] But everybody was happy there, and er, till this came along, he's the one that wanted us to work for less.
(PS3B7) [267] When he came along how could you see things had changed or how could you see in the process of changing?
Robert (PS3B6) [268] Well straight away the first thing he done was to put these new tables in, and that was his idea when he put these tables in to get more slate, and less wages.
[269] I dunno whether he he thought his father paid us too much, I dunno, but erm that's what he had in mind to start with, was drop the wages down thirty pound a week.
[270] For everybody.
(PS3B7) [271] Was there any alteration in the style of management at all?
Robert (PS3B6) [272] No, not a thing jus we were all working, just on the same, everybody was working,fr real hard but erm.
[273] He had that in mind all the time to to cut the wages down, that's what they wanted to do.
[274] That's what he wanted to do to from the start, cut the wages down and make more slate, that's what he had in mind.
[275] He wasn't prepared to do anything else there ... no ar ... and he was he was to have these plant hire, you know these two, when when his old man used to work us us in the quarry, well this was working up there as well, he had lads working on the plant hire for him.
[276] He had about a dozen lorries on the road, and machines er working the roads there, all they were working for nothing for him, these lads and he'd come along and before Christmas he'd stop a couple of them, just before Christmas, he used to do that every year.
[277] Stop 'em, just before Christmas he used to stop 'em.
[278] And my son-in-law he was working with him, and when he had that accident, well it's ridiculous what he done that day.
[279] When he reversed that dumper over the tip.
[280] Eleven o'clock in the morning, and lost his leg.
[281] And he held the wages of the afternoon of him.
[282] No I'd r I thought that was really terrible there.
[283] Stopping a man's afternoon wages after he lost a leg.
[284] Er it was, and he was only paying him twenty two pound a week ... at the time.
(PS3B7) [285] Was that considered a hard thing at the time?
Robert (PS3B6) [286] Very hard, very hard I told the lads I told 'em ... the union about it what he done that day.
[287] Must must be terrible man to do a thing like that eh.
[288] And you know is after an accident like that, well, we never, the old slate quarry company wouldn't do that, they'd pay the day off in one a serious accident like that.
[289] But that holding the afternoon off him after loosing a leg I think that was really terrible ... aye.
(PS3B7) [290] When it became obvious that the strike wasn't going to last a fortnight or it wasn't going to last a month.
[291] How did you organize yourselves to stay together?
Robert (PS3B6) [292] Well we had a meeting every week, a a union meeting, every week.
[293] And we had the fantastic help in from South Wales, most thos terribly good er people were terribly good to us in organizing er different things.
[294] Many supported us and the present the people.
[295] Fantastic I never thought of anything like it, the money was coming in everywhere.
[296] They really did help us ... Aye.
(PS3B7) [297] W w w w what sort of er p p people or organize or organizations where helping you then?
Robert (PS3B6) [298] Well union, you know the union in the coal mines and all different well er everywhere in the North Wales here to, postmen, well every union was helping us with them.
[299] Organizations and er money coming in everywhere and food parcels.
[300] They were helping everybody.
[301] I never thought of anything like that, I couldn't believe it.
[302] Really fantastic, and there's still money in the fund now, for after it.
[303] There was money coming in from overseas, Germany, Belgium, Holland, there wa everywhere helping us.
[304] Aye.
(PS3B7) [305] W w w w were you as erm a large were you organized in any way in ord d er to c con t t t =tinue the strike le le length of time?
Robert (PS3B6) [306] Well we could a continued it for erm, well I dunno, but erm it was getting a bit out of hand with the picket line really, cos there was a lot of these youngsters who weren't prepared to do these picket line.
[307] You know they were coming there this week and they wouldn't come there for three or four weeks or something, thinking with this picket but it was very important to keep that gate, stop everybody from going in there.
[308] But there was a lo lots of these youngsters who wouldn't prepared to do this picket business.
[309] As they they got fed up with it I suppose I dunno er.
[310] But there was no point in carrying it on really you know it.
[311] If we'd a carried it on for ... say this time of the year now you with this erm Whitsun Holiday now, we'd have had to to do it seven days a week, cos you'd have to be there Saturday and Sunday to stop anything going in there [...] .
[312] But they weren't prepared to do it were they.
[313] You know these youngsters they weren't prepared to stay on that gate.
(PS3B7) [314] W w w was the ... the encouragement then for the picket from the older men?
Robert (PS3B6) [315] Well we c couldn't we had a lot of arguments about it you know in the union meetings about this picket line.
[316] But we couldn't make anybody do it, you know they'd say, anyway that we'll do it, there's there's next week they wouldn't catch you up some of them.
[317] So er er well we couldn't carry it out, cos the the ones who weren't prepared to do the picket wasn't erm going to do it, we'd have to do more of 'em to keep these youngsters on doing the picket, you know.
(PS3B7) [318] Where they then a group of people who, to whom the burden of being on p p per picket falling more and more?
Robert (PS3B6) [319] Yes that's how that's how it was, [sigh] yes all I was on that gate, I'd been on that gate myself dozens of times.
[320] On my own there ... I I wasn't worried about it er you know.
[321] But if one ... i man does the picket and the others don't, well it's gonna not gonna go show are they.
[322] That's what the company wanted us you know to break up on it.
[323] They wanted us, if everybody would have gone with me too the picket.
[324] That's what these slate quarry owners wanted us for us to fall back.
[325] The strike would have fall apart then.
[326] That's how it was ... It had fallen apart with er without.
[327] Everybody was standing, they was gonna go out.
[328] That's why all these collieries have a different in it.
[329] You know these self worth they're so terrible keen aren't they.
(PS3B7) [330] When you began to make all sort of when c contacts began to be made between erm you and South Wales in terms of support
Robert (PS3B6) [331] Yeah.
(PS3B7) [332] D did you get any sort of erm, apart from financial support and material support, did you get any moral support of how a strike should be con conducted?
Robert (PS3B6) [333] Oh yes they were they were telling us not to pack up there that keep the g gate going and you know they were, keep it going and they they'd er help us.
[334] For years to come because if they stay out they give us hundred percent help to carry on with it.
[335] But erm ... I dunno there's some of them weren't prepared to carry on with it, you know these youngsters, there was a lot of 'em they wouldn't, anyway everybody's not hundred percent you're not going to get anywhere with anything.
(PS3B7) [336] You f emphasized the fact of erm s solidarity fr fr from want of a better word.
Robert (PS3B6) [337] Yeah.
(PS3B7) [338] Erm was it in your opinion because the young men had a lot of financial pressures
Robert (PS3B6) [sigh]
(PS3B7) [339] that they they weren't as s solid as the older men let's say or was it because they hadn't
Robert (PS3B6) [340] No they hadn't a ... no they ... they started alright on that picket but as time rolled on and they was getting erm fed up with it, you know they that's how it went as they were getting, oh I we won't go up there today, bugger it.
[341] And that's how it happened and you know some weren't prepared to s stay there on the gate an ... watch that nobody don't go in it er.
(PS3B7) [342] When you were in, when you were discussing these things in the l lodge meeting erm d d d did the younger men sort of indicate how they felt towards the picket?
Robert (PS3B6) [343] Oh aye, know these youngsters today, they not er not the same as when we were young I don't think.
[344] They don't seem to worry about anything a lot of these youngsters today.
[345] You know if you're out on strike you're out on strike and must make it hundred percent, that's how it is.
[346] Cos if you do anything you doing you must do it, go at it the right way and stick to it, ain't it.
[347] But a lot of these youngsters er you know.
[348] There was a few in the lads they were just didn't want to do this picket line.
[349] And they were letting the burden on the others weren't they, to do it.
[350] And there was lots of the we came to an end and ... if we were going to carry on with this further we the ... everybody was getting a bit fed up with it.
[351] We were all getting fed up with it cos, having to stay on the gate five hours a day you know, three or four times a week.
[352] Was really poor there but ... I dunno if we'd er stayed there or ... and carried on with it.
(PS3B7) [353] Was the er erm attention of the press, the television, the radio, the support of the local M. P., er m ministers in the town, university students, and all the other ... organizations, was that in in any way a help?
Robert (PS3B6) [354] Oh yes, it was a help the students give us a fantastic help you know, in financially and the the came on that gate a lots of times with us.
[355] They were on that gate with us very often, in the mornings and that.
[356] And er the M. P.
[357] on this he was up there with us, he was hundred percent too with us.
[358] Oh yes, we had fantastic support out of them ... aye fantastic.
[359] Everybody was p hundred percent, everybody.
[360] But it was the scabs er that well they put us down to start with, and then the was picket line started cracking up ... was the these lads not prepared to do it.
[361] That how it went out of hand in the end in it.
[362] And everybody was getting a bit bored with it cos as it dragged on this is s seven months when you know a long time to be ... I never thought it would have gone this as long as that when we started off with it.
(PS3B7) [363] Where you erm aware at all that people were were having serious financial problems?
Robert (PS3B6) [364] There's quite a few there with had fantastic trouble with their finances you know.
[365] Cos the mortgages and that but there's a lot of them, and kids causing it, and Christmas was coming well you know we just, that's when they helped us at Christmas was really fantastic yes, true I never thought anything ... really out of this world how the how the people helped ... We got toys and everything for the kids' Christmas, everything you could think of.
[366] Nobody or kids were short of a thing, cos erm people from everywhere were sending things.
[367] And everybody had a t a twelve pound turkey ... each.
[368] Aye ... everything was gi really fantastic the people that helped the people that gave to the strike, out of this world I know the help they had was really fantastic.
(PS3B7) [369] You e mentioned earlier on that people received er food parcels?
Robert (PS3B6) [370] Yes.
(PS3B7) [371] Ha ha ha how was this organized?
Robert (PS3B6) [372] Well the erm the girls were doing all the the wives were doing all the food parcels every week.
[373] They were going up to the we call it.
[374] And they were organizing food parcels for every striker.
[375] And delivering them around on a Friday night and Saturday morning.
[376] And it's a really good parcel,th they thought of everything they had everything in the in the food parcel, very good.
(PS3B7) [377] What sort of things would
Robert (PS3B6) [378] Oh.
(PS3B7) [379] you you know sort of
Robert (PS3B6) [380] [cough] had erm eggs, butter, tea, everything you could you needed was in there, and tins of all different kind of soup and were apples, oranges, everything was in there, in the parcel.
[381] Really good parcel every week they were having.
(PS3B7) [382] Would [tape change]