Gwynedd County Council tape 18: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 8292 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C421

HUXPS000 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified
HUXPS001 X u (No name, age unknown) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 107401 recorded on 1986. LocationGwynedd: Merionethshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview, reminiscences

Undivided text

(HUXPS000) [1] Can you tell me of your first involvement with the support group?
(HUXPS001) [2] Well back in September ... a few weeks after the quarry men first came out on strike ... a few of us went up to the picket line, a few of the women.
[3] We were quite aware that the er quarry men ... well then there were fifty three out on strike er fifty men and three women, very much wanted to er t well play it their way in a sense.
[4] They didn't er they they weren't used to industrial action I think it's fair to say ... and er they didn't want they weren't quite sure whether you know they they might be taken over by cert well certain political f factions if you like.
[5] So I think you know we were all very ware aware of that of people that were had been active in the miner's strike.
[6] I was Secretary of the miner's support group that was set up in Blaenau during the year long miner's s strike where we collected a lot of food and twinned with a town down in South Wales and made a lot of new friends.
[7] And we used to er do a food run down and they used to come up and erm ... And then we went along to a to a lodge meeting th the men invited us along [laugh] and I remember one of the comments back in September from one of the men was, Oh well I'm gonna be nagged back to work soon.
[8] And er [laugh] I think i we thought from that well why not set up a women's support group and er see what the reaction was really from from the women you know and an I and we said in that lodge meeting will you ask everybody all the women that you know that er are involved, the friends the girlfriends and wives, to come along the next Tuesday and we'd have a meeting of our own.
[9] And that's how it started and it was really just you know we said we'd do a bit of fund raising and I think the men were pretty [laughing] sceptical [] of you know they thi they thought we might fight over the first tin of beans or [laughing] whatever [] .
[10] And erm ... I think they've been I think they've changed really over the months I think all of us have as well and erm ... well that's how it started anyway.
(HUXPS000) [11] W w when you first er when you first went up onto the picket lines erm h how m many of you w were there then?
(HUXPS001) [12] Ah this was really just Yona and and me you know I mean ... Yona obviously felt very strongly about her father standing in the rain on the picket line worked hard all his life an it had come to this really being sacked er they were just newly sacked then.
[13] And we just went up you know just the two of us [...] asks is there anything we can do you know sort of was as simple as that really and it just er grew from that.
[14] I mean suddenly we had the example of a women's support group from the miner's strike ... th that we had the idea you know fr from that erm and Yona really put it in a nutshell when she said I think er er you know behind closed doors the women worrying about what was gonna happen next you know they felt very frustrated and in a way it was a way to channel o our energies away i i i it was seen as that really in the beginning you know as a a sort of a more as a way of getting rid of the ... well y you know the sort of desperation er the impotence one felt of not being able to do anything in this situation and it's er ... and by now of course we've all become as a group very close er you know we're we're more like a big family now really an sort of er a lot of the women have never really sort of regularly been to meetings an th the commitment there is very strong really that we all turn up to our Tuesday meetings sort of.
[15] It's a bit like [laughing] I don't know how [] you know I don't think any of us miss you know Tuesday evenings.
(HUXPS000) [16] How do y y so Yona yes yesterday referred to the atmosphere of the of the [...] of er the women's group
(HUXPS001) [17] Mm
(HUXPS000) [18] or the quarry men support group
(HUXPS001) [19] Mm
(HUXPS000) [20] [...] erm it's been something which is which was quite unique really erm in her experience of of groups of people.
(HUXPS001) [21] Yes I suppose it's true that for somebody like me I've been involved in quite a lot of different groups over over the years ... and the quarry men's support group is ... it's difficult to put in words really er ... exactly how it's erm ... you know I think it's very easy f for groups to become sort of s set really and er well I've always wanted it to to involve everybody and ... I think it does that in a way it sort of er it's quite special to all of us in in a funny sort of way it's er you know we feel quite committed.
[22] ... And it's to do with everybody's lives you know it an and I think out of it is c er people are realizing that they can.
[23] You know our first victory was w sort of within forty eight hours of being set up.
[24] The Quix supermarket had refused the box because they'd ha although they'd had it for a cert for quite a long time during the miner's strike I think.
[25] Because of all the bad press that miners got and in a sense Quix was responding from higher up probably by saying you know well take the b they took the box away in fact at the end of the miner's strike and then when this strike came along they thought it wouldn't you know the the they that was their rule sort of thing.
[26] And I remember one of the women saying, Oh well we'll pick at Quix we'll make a real fuss.
[27] And erm our local er press was there and I think he went away and phoned up straight away t to Quix and said, Oh well you know they were twenty five to thirty women in Blaenau I never you know sort of their not your usual erm politicals [laughing] if you like [] you know they just.
[28] And they they seemed very determined er you know if if you don't I think you'd better er put the the box there and within [laughing] twenty four forty eight hours [] or whatever it was we had the box in Quix you know.
[29] And I think we were all slightly sort of surprised that we could have this sort of effect.
[30] And things like writing leaflets in a way you know that comes up in meetings we'd better write a leaflet and the response usually's, Oh n gosh we can't do things like that you know, we can't speak in public, we can't write leaflets and in fact we do you know we find ourselves achieving these things and and I mean I think men really ... their attitude has really changed over the months.
[31] I don't [laughing] I thin [] I think there's probably a lot lot less sexism just in terms of I think we've won their respect by you know and and certainly when th they didn't want us to picket in the beginning, and then over the months really the women have done quite a lot of successful picketing when we've been asked and and we've staged quite big pickets quite a lot of you know the big pickets were really organized and the rallies have been organized by us and really sort of quite a lot of the input into ... into the strike I think has come from the women's support group in in quite a unique way.
[32] I think that's true what Yona says you know it it is ... Cos you know I the sort of the political people of the town tend to be councillors who are er men mainly and set in their ways and think that because they've got the label councillor behind you know b front of their name that they're they are for life you know it's And they're sort of respectable inverted commas members of the community and you know and ... I mean I hope that out of out of all this ... I mean it's [laugh] it's a shame it has to happen in such a desperate situation you know because I mean none of us can really feel glad that ... Because to be on strike is I mean each day is is hard I'm sure for well I mean I can only say because to be close to people on strike it's quite a unique thing really for me and i ... you become so involved and close to people and you realize how hard it is for them.
[33] But I think out of this we'll all look back you know and things, I mean it's a bit of a cliche, [laughing] but er [] it's not gonna be the same again I don't think it is gonna be the same again in Blaenau I think people ... have changed.
(HUXPS000) [34] Th [clears throat] you said or you implied that the women were surprised that er that they could have power and you use it effectively.
[35] Erm how did that sort of perspective come about the sort of things could be theirs do you think?
(HUXPS001) [36] Well it's difficult to pinpoint it in words isn't it.
[37] It's like it's it was a you know it's been and still is an experience you know it's sort of n none of us almost you know we we don't realize it's happening and you know you like back on the minutes of.
[38] We've tried to keep our our support group also you know to go back sort of as loose as possible that we haven't great great format of a chair and a secretary and a treasurer although we do have that frame work because we've discovered we also needed some sort of structure.
[39] And if you look back at the minutes and then Yona I think she's great as the secretary because she doesn't let anything go but on the other hand she's pretty informal about ... and the way th that over the weeks ... you know somebody er Julie or June or Mervia Ann [...] come up with the suggestion that they maybe feel ... why don't we do this and then by the next week it's turned into a a rally or a big picket or or a record.
[40] I mean they're they're all gonna do this this record next week erm the quarry men are going to do their own record with [...] .
[41] You know and it's a sort of awareness you know then and and now we talk about, Oh we've got to stay together after the strike I mean what what are we going to do [laugh] .
[42] And every weekend really there's a social organized and I mean I think although packing the food parcels [laughing] on a Saturday [] is in a sense well you know if we take the food thing nobody knew really.
[43] I mean we had an example from the miner's strike but that ha was happening far away in a sense and it was just something that you could support or yo you didn't support or you put a tin of beans in the box in Quix and that was what you did you know sort of And then actually faced with having to accept food from that people had given you in a way, it's a very quite a difficult concept.
[44] I don't think anybody knows exactly how they'd react to that you know sort of And I think the women's support group has created the frame work that's enabled us.
[45] ... Because it was the women themselves who were organizing it because they felt part of it they didn't see it as some sort of other people that were more politically motivated that than them giving them something to keep them out on strike, which by its very nature could could have been something that ... the people would have accepted for a while and then not accepted.
[46] But i it grew slowly over the weeks and I think Christmas was an example of just the actual logistics of what we did at Christmas must be something of a feat in that so much stuff came in from the volume of presents and then the way in which they could be distributed.
[47] I mean if you think about it [laugh] it was just an impossible task to do it sort of fairly or so that everybody felt all right about it and also that you know if it's your own children you're having to choose presents you know the who whole idea was sort of very very difficult really.
[48] And I think it was an example of the trust that we'd built up over the weeks and months that we were able to do it.
[49] And we had our hiccups and we had all sorts of ... you know difficult moments for all of us where we all had to face ourselves and ... You know I remember my little boy said, Oh Mum y what about my Christmas you know I was putting a lot of time into the the striker's Christmas and he said how do you become a striker's child?
[50] [laugh] And it came home to me that you know we all had to come to terms in some way with erm ... with what it was all about and the kids and you know and it became something of a ... I mean i it was the experience that we went through you know it was i it was you know something that we'll always remember I think because it'll always make Christmas different I think [laugh] for us in a way you know but it ... And when they came up from South Wales with car loads and van loads and I mean we all just sobbed you know I mean there was nothing to do really you know it was just [laugh] and I think ... anyway that was Christmas, but I mean er.
[51] And we had expected rather a slump after Christmas that hasn't happened really so that er you know we're just so busy I mean [laugh] one thing to the next really. ...
(HUXPS000) [52] Can you can you give me some idea the sort of flavour of erm how your meetings how they g g go now?
(HUXPS001) [53] Well the men tend to come to our meetings and sit in the back now because their they well what in their words they say, Oh they they're much better than the lodge meetings. [laugh]
(HUXPS001) [54] And erm we've got this big rally er which a fortnight ago Julie suggested that we had a rally I think she thought er ... you know that it was time we a the public profile up sort of thing.
[55] And er she wanted er you know she has visions of us filling the streets of from [...] to [...] [laugh] with banners waving and the we asked for no banners in the first rally we had back in October because we didn't want it to be seen as some thing that had you know big sort of take over and everybody you know the Communist Party and the language people and er all the different factions being able to wave their banners you know, We support the Blaenau quarry men.
[56] And er but very definitely now I think we've got the self confidence that er you know we very much and er we feel established enough that everybody can bring their banners and it's gonna be a good day.
[57] So the meetings are packed really with organizing and trying you know democratically to decide who we're going to have to speak and the balance of speakers and er where we're going to march from and who's gonna invite the band and who's gonna do this and who's gonna do that you know.
[58] And the men erm as I say come along and sit in the back. [laugh]
(HUXPS000) [59] Do do you the men actually take part?
(HUXPS001) [60] Yeah they do take part cos they're dying to say things [laugh] and we give them jobs to do.
[61] No they they it's good you know it's er ...
(HUXPS000) [62] I think believe your your title has changed slightly has it from women's support group to the quarry men's support group?
(HUXPS001) [63] Oh I didn't know that actually [laugh] but er fine yes I mean er that sounds like a very good idea.
[64] [laugh] Yeah.
[65] When did that happen then? [laugh]
(HUXPS000) [66] [laughing] I was just curious. []
(HUXPS001) [67] [laugh] ... Yes.
(HUXPS000) [68] You or it's implied in what you're saying about the er the burgeoning self-confidence that people become responsible for ... particular avenues.
(HUXPS001) [69] Mm.
(HUXPS000) [70] Erm do you see any danger in in that kind of specialization?
(HUXPS001) [71] Er that certain people won't feel involved do you mean ?
(HUXPS000) [72] Yes.
(HUXPS001) [73] Yes.
[74] Oh yes obviously er there is that element there always is and you have to out weigh I think you know creating sub committees that then er.
[75] But our entertainments sub committee for instance sort of er changes an people join it and y you know sort of er.
[76] As as I said we're we're not very formal but er you know that also has its especially if people that er maybe erm, how can I put it, are not used t taking everything back to a meeting and you know they maybe make a decision and go ahead with it and then it gets shouted at a bit but I think we we can all take being shouted at a bit as well.
[77] You know like I say there is quite a lot of trust and erm I think Yona and me are sort of aware er we're very much united in the feeling that we don't ... we don't want things to erm you know we want everybody to be involved and obviously different people have different things to offer. ...
(HUXPS000) [78] You implied erm that [...] many of the women who weren't really aware politically in in fact may have been quite restrained in that sense
(HUXPS001) [79] Yes
(HUXPS000) [80] Or unconscious
(HUXPS001) [81] Yes
(HUXPS000) [82] Have become possibly aware of erm politics and the wa way power flows?
(HUXPS001) [83] Yes I think you know I mean democracy [laughing] if I use [] that word is supposed to be er by the people for the people isn't it you know but ... I mean I'm always amazed.
[84] B before I became a councillor I didn't really realize about the three tiers of local democracy.
[85] Here you know you had the Town Council and the District and then the County.
[86] And ... you know ... it is amazing what you can achieve really by ... you know there is such a lot of scope really.
[87] A and it is this stupid business of ... of in a way you know the whole idea that er it's beyond us you know.
[88] It's something for other people to do, do you know what I mean?
[89] And I mean I think women ... tend to be inv having to cope with things like school and er and health and you know they're a at the grass roots if you like of you know at the receiving end of you know say cuts in in services like that and bus services and just quality of rural life and I mean the quality of life in Blaenau is depopulation and unemployment and you know and and in a sense there is lot of scope for women to break down the barriers of you know cos it is true that the the Councillors they're supposed to represent the people or whatever tend to be quite well to do they've done it thank you very much and then oh you know they've got the time on their hands and they tend to be men and s school ex school teachers ex ... You know and they're not having to cope with really ... situations that go will put them in touch with what it's like not to have a bus service or not to have proper health care and this sort of thing you know.
[90] So erm.
[91] Well I'm trying to gen you know just as a generalization now.
[92] And I think erm ... you know just that really. ...
(HUXPS000) [93] D do you predict that the the political nature of of the town at least wi will be will be changed in quite a fundamental way if and when the strike ends as a consequence of over this new [...] ?
(HUXPS001) [94] Well yes it's it I dunno it's you know I don't know want to say ... You know basically the facilities for change are really in the hands of of the politicians aren't they you know?
[95] And if there's no work and if there's no means by which people can ... get themselves ... you know those sorts of basic things but [...] you know I'm not gonna si I I couldn't say that the whole structure is going to ch change becau but I think erm I hope anyway and I do believe really that er ... I mean I hope that we're going to stay together as a support group in some sort of form and ... Yes and there's no way that we're not going to support other causes in the way that we've been supported.
[96] And I think that's that's a wonderful experience to realize that er you can be part of you know cos surely finally working men and women through history have never without sticking together they'd they'd still be back you know in the in the dark ages as far you know.
[97] ... So it is I I I won't predict you know how it's gonna be too much you know because obviously er it's just the day to day living is quite difficult for most people have to work and cope with their families and you know so there's not going to be er that the fundamentals are are not gonna be changed and obviously people are gonna be very broke for a long time because in a strike situation you probably don't ever really quite recover.
[98] I mean they've been on strike now for six months.
[99] And erm.
[100] But I mean I think the feeling of the the miners were out for a year I mean time and time again I've heard people say, Oh how d how do they do it and look at the money they're sending us and look at what they're doing for us and how ho .
[101] You know they must be you know and a certain amount of guilt maybe that they that they didn't support the miners or you know it was something that was happening far away and maybe y like I said you gave the odd tin of beans you know but er ...
(HUXPS000) [102] Has there been any kind of surprise of the amount of support that you have got? ...
(HUXPS001) [103] Yes definitely I mean I don't think we ever dreamt in our wildest dreams I think ... really it was maybe chance thing f fate or whatever you know.
[104] The network er what the miner's strike created I think anyway was a sort of network of people ... Th and it wasn't just through the usual trade union political party network it was or through the support groups really er ... it sets up a network of like [tape change]
(HUXPS001) [105] You know maybe a vacuum that needed to be filled by and They looked at the case of the quarry strike and it's sort of so glaring obvious for men and women all over the country that it's er really a case of er ... wo working men and women being erm ... well being trampled upon really.
[106] They were they were asking for them to make more slates for for less money and they weren't prepared to sit down and really talk it through with the men they just treated you know they just had this awful attitude ...
(HUXPS000) [107] [...] that itself was a a sur surprise in in the town amongst the the women that the quarry men as being local people wouldn't talk with th their own kind. ...
(HUXPS001) [108] Yeah I I dunno how s much of a surprise.
[109] I suspect that there'll there'd been a certain amount of alienation for a long time things that the men had to accept because the people with the money and therefore the power said that they had to you know a I think quarry men are very proud on one level ... great sort of craftsmen in a way and erm I'm sure that you know th the last couple of years well I've heard them say really tha that there'd been things niggling them with the management but [laughing] I suppose [] this was just like a blatant smack in the face and they realize that if they accepted this if they let the management walk all over them this was the thin end of the wedge you know that.
[110] And for the women you know I mean it's i in a situation you probably I don't know you know this comment that, Oh my my wife's gonna nag me back to work, or whatever that was made in the beginning probably could be that the women were saying, Oh my God you know we can't afford to have you on strike just accept it you know just ... I'm definitely not ... I think really they have felt they have really changed fund fundamentally they've found a self confidence that they can say no you know it's not good enough.
[111] And er certainly Amanda who who's on strike then you know I mean they don't get equal pay the women the the the three women that came out I mean one of them's gone back an Amanda and Helen you know I mean they they were on they were on terribly low wages.
[112] ... And I think Amanda and Helen certainly you know there's they found a self confidence that er feeling of what the union is all about as well you know.
[113] ... See th [...] history of the union is I mean er ... but er you know it's a it's a process isn't it in in a way the management have are probably really kicking [laughing] themselves now [] for what's happened you know I mean, their li latest statement is er, Well if there hadn't been so much ou outside interference I'm sure we'd have been able to settle.
[114] You know I mean can you think of anything more ridiculous with there you go they probably haven't got any other leg to stan I mean that's no leg to stand on but they've got nothing else to say really you know. ...
(HUXPS000) [115] Is there and is there any kind of exp expected [...] amongst the support group that that the strike is going to end successfully?
(HUXPS001) [116] Well I dunno whether we ... whether you'd sort of when you're so close really.
[117] I mean for me I I've gone beyond hoping in a way I mean it's just a question of keeping going from week to week and I don't know how to measure success.
[118] I know it it sounds sounds sort of strange really it is re really strange.
[119] In the beginning I just hoped and prayed that it would be over next week.
[120] And in a way it's become easier as the times this might sound funny as the times gone on.
[121] Almost as if we can go on forever if that's how it's got to be.
[122] You know it's a sort of what's got to be has got to be in a sense I mean there's no going back now there's no surely finally every every strike is settled in the end and they've got to come and talk.
[123] Everybody's got to sit down and talk eventually and something has got to be worked out and that's got to happen we know that.
[124] And meanwhile we'll keep going you know and er and do what we have to do which is to make sure that when they get dow when they get round to that table sitting down that well certainly the the quarry men are not gonna be hungry if if you know what I mean I mean they they gonna sit there [laughing] with full bellies [] in a sense that they're not gonna be starved back and I mean th that sounds rather dramatic and a cliched but I mean when you're living on the bread line and expecting money from week to week I mean that's what it's all about isn't it you know and and the food parcel.
[125] We first of all we used to give the food parcel every fortnight because it was half one week and half the next and now it's a food parcel every week so they they're guaranteed that basic sustenance you know and erm and we'll keep up the up th up the fund raising and the money's certainly still pouring in.
[126] I mean th the f the funds having dropped at all.
[127] And if if it does start dropping we're gonna have to change our tactics and go and do something else you know we'll we'll [laughing] knock on anybody's doors [] do you know what I mean w we're not proud and we'll go you know we'll just change our tactics and er whatever it takes.
[128] And I think I'm I speak for er ... you know so so if that's success then yes you know then then it's it's got to you know I dunno ho
(HUXPS000) [129] Do you think that the management are aware that they are now dealing with people who've changed?
(HUXPS001) [130] Well like I said I think [laughing] probably they're [] really kicking themselves I mean I would be in their situation.
[131] You know and this statement that, Oh it's outside interference if these students hadn't come up to picket.
[132] Well I mean it's a ridiculous statement isn't it?
[133] You know I mean because all the people that have come to show support and er solidarity have done it er I mean we've been very aware you know the quarry men have actually said you know no we don't want you to actually block the land rovers we do it our own way and erm ... you know there's been no ... out of control mass picketing or violence or anything like that.
[134] So I mean and if a and surely if they're talking about actual support in terms of food and money I mean can they really.
[135] You know in a way South Wales is paying back the debt that we pa w w we paid them in their strike you know I mean and That's communities helping communities and if really this management is talking about er the fact that they resent families not having to go without over Christmas and this sort of thing you know I mean where are their values you know it's difficult to understand isn't it?
(HUXPS000) [136] Is there any [clears throat] hint that you might be forced to make an inver an inversion o in that sense that er you would be able so that you would have to make statements like that [...] as you've made you you've turned them that the employer's statement on it's head?
(HUXPS001) [137] Erm how do you mean exactly?
(HUXPS000) [138] Well in in the sense that erm they've said referred to outside interference
(HUXPS001) [139] Mm
(HUXPS000) [140] and you said well if they mean you know support from from people in South Wales who
(HUXPS001) [141] Mm
(HUXPS000) [142] are stopping people starving
(HUXPS001) [143] Mm
(HUXPS000) [144] I mean have you ac hav have you actually made that comment in public?
(HUXPS001) [145] Well this came up actually on a on a radio sho er chat thing that was open to the public in Blaenau Ffestiniog last night er where the chair was saying erm well you know I mean a lot of the [laugh] a lot of the people that haven't been very involved in this strike that I think should have been involved.
[146] I mean myself as a councillor I think i if you're a councillor you should be involved in the strike in one way or another you know.
[147] I mean all this sitting on the fence I mean they must have very sore bums [laugh] .
[148] I mean I dunno whether it's because they don't want to lose votes or you know I mean they they were there sort of pontificating about we should all come little children and let's talk.
[149] Er we've all got to be friends in a situation let bygones be bygones sort of.
[150] Well I mean it's gone much beyond that I mean they the reality of the situation is er is not like that I'm afraid I mean it ... Eighteen men have been sacked and and these are men that have put those quarries where they are.
[151] You know they they're a lot of the older men makes you wonder have they been sacked so they don't have to pay them hand shakes at the end you know if they wanted to lay some people off.
[152] Cos you know we're all aware that in this sort of new technological new machinery the new machinery versus a lot of skilled labour is is a difficult debate isn't it you know and ... but you can't.
[153] In nineteen eighty six [...] treat people as if their labour is worth nothing you know those men have given their lives to the quarry industry and there's no doubt that there is money to be made from slate at the moment and people are people that have the money to invest are making a lot of money okay they're inves they're risking the money but er people are risking their lives as well and giving their lives.
(HUXPS000) [154] You seem to suggest that there is quite a and quite a a different relationship between the quarry men er and the quarry owner than there is normally between say a employer and an employee.
[155] Th th that the quarry man somehow has has an investment in the erm in the rock in th other than than than what he receives in wages.
(HUXPS001) [156] Yes I wouldn't like to say too much about this you know I'm I'm only a farmer I'm no expert on these thi you know just from things I feel really erm.
[157] I think historically ... although you know [laughing] historians can [...] [] much better than me, erm historically maybe the way that the rock has been worked with a bagging system and it was you know and lots of quarry men had little bits of farm as well around Blaenau especially and you get a feeling er from reading about it that er you know they have a an almost self employed attitude to their to their work and their rock and the fact that er they'd do it in their own you know wor work the rock in a certain way and this and very sort of proud erm of their work and that and From talking a lot to them and being close to you know it you feel that that that's still very much the same really you know there is this sort of close relationship and that with their em employers there was you know a lot of ... you know wasn't it wasn't straight it as straight as you said a straight employer employee relationship that they was ... A lot of s sort of er give and take probably and I think they were outraged at this sort of McGregor type tactic really that you know this new machine.
[158] They were prepared to compromise because they I'm sure that you know you can't imagine them not being really but because they're such erm ... they were outraged at this machine but they were prepared to give it a try but the way it was bulldozed through that once the machine was there there was no choice then and almost you know get going boys get more and more and more slate you know greed they felt the employer was being greedy at the expense of quality.
[159] ... And really the slate industry I think probably hinges on quality being maintained you know I mean li like I said I don't want to go in you know I'm no expert on this sort of thing but erm ... A deep sense of of injustice I think is that and, oh my God if if we let him start making us just you know like robots produce more and more slate and laying off some of the older craftsmen and you know they do and David Price who knows and I mean th they put that [...] and and [...] then they the last fifteen years it was a it was a defunct slate quarry before you know and they ... I mean it's not as i it's not an easy thing to er work slate I'm sure it's d difficult [...] and you have to know what you're doing. ...
(HUXPS000) [160] Are you [...] are you sort of saying in fact that the erm that the the success of those qua of the rebirth of the slate industry in [...] has depended largely upon erm these mens skill erm as well as the investment of the quarry owners?
(HUXPS001) [161] Oh I think there's no doubt about that and also their their their wages were low in the beginning you know and and their their their hard work that they've put into it for the last you know ... I mean it had it I mean David Price says at the best of times is not easy to run a quarry you know you know and they they ha all work in a quarry so it had to be a cooperation and you know the management said you come up with us and and they weren't complaining actually about the wages it was quite good wages for.
[162] Mind you it was only their wages are only comparable to say some wages that they get in nuclear power station.
[163] I mean it's only fair it's not we're not talking about huge wages but for Gwynedd which is a low wage area they were reasonable and they worked for them too you know but but they weren't complaining about the money so much as the principle.
[164] ... And there are records of this everywhere aren't there you know sort of and and probably you know the the management thought er I don't know if they thought this far really or we'll we'll show them that they can't that they can't stick together as a union and why should all the quarries stick together.
[165] I mean the management are quite prepared to stick together when it comes to getting grants as the Ffestiniog Slate Company.
[166] But when it suits them they choose not to be seen and seen you know sort of divide and rule tactics of seen as different entities really and I mean to be how dare and one one comment was how dare these men gang up against us.
[167] Well I mean you know we're not playing children's ganging up games are we we know we're dealing with peoples' lives and families.
(HUXPS000) [168] You refer to the er n network which is erm become consolidated in the miner's strike and
(HUXPS001) [169] Mm
(HUXPS000) [170] the dispute here.
[171] Can you d d d describe it in in in some bit of detail?
(HUXPS001) [172] Well you know just loosely really there's the contacts that people I mean.
[173] One of the initiatives er was er the Congress the Wa all Wales Congress that was set up in the miner's strike for instance.
[174] But I don't think it really ever I mean there were quite a lot of initiatives like that you know of people thinking of different ways really of of sticking together to combat er you know what I've been talking about which was smashing unionism and er forcing lower wages really onto the the already low paid, which er really seems to be what Thatcher's all about you know in order to er curb inflation and create a very divided society where er half the population seem to have to live either on the dole or in in poverty really in in derelict bits of Britain.
[175] Erm while the rest er live in the lap of luxury I mean maybe that's a [...] well I don't know I don't think it is an exaggeration really the way things are heading.
[176] ... And these sorts of initiatives of of people organizing together you know sort of.
[177] Oh I had a huge list of names really you know of erm you know we had quite big meetings where people seem to have come out of their parties [laughing] their sort of [] sectarianism really you know which er the left is notorious for if you like if you want to use cliches.
[178] And er you know rally round each other and I think it's no more than that really no more or no less you know it's er.
[179] And certainly you know I mean Yona's list now of support for this next rally we've got on March the first is huge I mean it's sort of and that's not gonna go away is it you know I mean next year I don't know what we're gonna be up to but [laugh] hopefully we'll be supporting somebody else in their er struggle for fair play and that network will obviously come into play you know I mean I've we've been South Wales have said, Oh you know these are all our contacts you know some of the women in South Wales and in Deeside they've said these are all our contacts and these are the people that were good and did the work and got the leaflets out and brought the money in you know and it's as simple as that really you know.
(HUXPS000) [180] D the people who've erm re who've really helped you in [...] in ver very substantial way do you go and see them?
(HUXPS001) [181] ... Yeah well we're in touch with each another you know qu quite a lot of people have visited us.
[182] Obviously at the moment we we all of us are really tied up with living from a Tuesday to a Saturday really you know with Tuesdays our meeting and then all that has to be done after that and then Saturday is the food parcels you know so and most people work as well either part time or full time work at home er with the kids and bringing up families so and obviously also money is shor short for people that are directly involved in the strike so erm.
[183] No we're not all rushing off all over the place although the men and s some of the women you know we have gone off and they still I mean the men were in South Wales last week.
[184] ... A lot of people have come up to visit so in those term you know yes we do yeah sort of er seeing each other but erm you know we don't have [laughing] a lot of spare time [] either.
(HUXPS000) [185] Can you give me some idea of your relationship with the erm the lodge?
[186] I mean is it possible to draw a comparison between the way it erm you know the women were regarded before they became so effective?
(HUXPS001) [187] Oh well erm I don't know really it's er.
[188] I've only been to a couple of lodge meetings it I was invited to go to I always felt slightly ambiguous about that really you know.
[189] You know we tend to sort of hover outside lodge meetings a bit you know cos it is all men you know and [laugh] It's quite frightening really you know I mean this sort of erm ... I think ... the way the finances are worked for instance er.
[190] You know we were asked, Do you want your own bank account really and we decided er democratically that we'd have the one bank account really for make sure the D H S S didn't start snooping really and you know er ... that's worked very well I mean certainly the men very much tell us everything that's going on and erm well ... you know I don't think there's any conflict of erm I don't know you know it's it's difficult I suppose it's amazing really the way it does work you know and that er you know but it's quite loose really because it's er that's in a way the way one of it's successes probably you know that's it's not a very structured I mean probably the lodge is more structured I mean men are used to their lodge meetings aren't they you know?
[191] I mean we're so busy with our own we don't really you know we don't we don't feel at all upstaged by the lodge [laughing] I think [] you know we just work together really you know because it makes sense you know I don't think there's no big ...
(HUXPS000) [192] And yet the erm the men have started to come to your m meetings?
(HUXPS001) [193] Yes they do they [laugh] it's it's yeah they they liked to sort of erm I think they felt a bit shy in the beginning [laugh] and yet you know ...
(HUXPS000) [194] How did they did they begin in sort of in ones or twos?
(HUXPS001) [195] Yes David Price used to you know sort of er sit in our meetings yeah as a treasurer it made sense you know our treasurer and him to work together and all that.
[196] And er they happen came along er to tell us about the Aberystwyth trip we went off to Aberystwyth the students gave us a party and he said, Oh I like your meetings [laughing] I wish I could come here more often [] .
[197] And erm you know they they they tend to meet before us on a Tuesday and they sort of stay [laughing] hang around [] .
[198] You know often they don't stay through the whole meeting but if they've got specific points to bring up you know th you know it's flexible really you know sort of depending on what's going on really.
[199] And Tom Jones stayed in one of our meetings a couple of months ago.
[200] I think he was a bit nervous [laugh] really he thought, Oh my gosh you know that these are one of the big pickets that happened erm what are the women going to plan next you know and he felt you know Tom's you know felt a bit sort of out of control of it really I think he was very impressed with er.
[201] I I hope so I think it was er er we bridged you know I mean maybe you know it's often the way isn't it you know you think that's something going on and you think it's different to what it is when he realized we were all very level headed and that er.
[202] At that moment it had been appropriate to put big pickets you know I think if we thought too much about it we would have and taken it to the lodge and put it through the union it would have had cold water put over it and ... you know it was right for Tom to be wary and it was probably right for us to do what we did I mean I think you know it it was successful the way it turned out.
[203] I mean it could have been different it could have got out of control and then everybody would have turned and pointed a finger and that would have been awful.
[204] But that's also the nature of the way things are really isn't it as well you know?
[205] I mean probably women are more daring you know because they've got less to lose in a way I suppose if you if you're not a councillor [laugh] you can be more er you know or if you're not worried for your job or you know or if there isn't a definite structure I suppose in the lodge there's the definite people that always say the same things you know what I mean and it's it's less easy to be spontaneous in that situation I would think you know.
[206] So erm ... I mean I think we're definitely seen by the men [laughing] as as the more [] as the more brave in in a way you know.
(HUXPS000) [207] D'ya do you think they've erm re really learnt anything from you?
(HUXPS001) [208] Well I dunno whether I I'm in a position to comment on that [laugh] you know you'll have to ask them about that whether you know we've all learnt from each other really.
(HUXPS000) [209] Well erm David said that he didn't think the strike would have gone on or they wouldn't have the heart to go on without the women?
(HUXPS001) [210] Yes that has been said yes that er ... well I suppose also it's a joint effort isn't it you know if.
[211] ... I mean the strain on families must be enormous in a strike situation and for both people in the family to be having an input and feeling that they're getting some sort of feedback from the situation that it's not just despair must surely you know be you know there's that side to it and then erm from the women's point of view I mean we have like I said become one big family in a way you know and the social side of the strike in a way you know people are sa you know going out more maybe and certainly [tape change]