Gwynedd County Council tape 20: interview for oral history project. Sample containing about 8549 words speech recorded in leisure context

2 speakers recorded by respondent number C422

PS3D9 X m (No name, age unknown, historian, Interviewer) unspecified
PS3DA Ag2 m (David, age 28, quarry worker, Interviewee) unspecified

1 recordings

  1. Tape 107501 recorded on 1986. LocationGwynedd: Merionethshire () Activity: Interview for oral history project Interview, reminiscences

Undivided text

(PS3D9) [1] Can you tell us how you first became involved in the dispute?
David (PS3DA) [2] Well I was working in the [...] quarry, and er it's last March [...] turned round and said he wanted a new [...] implemented with a new miracle saw that he had bought and he didn't really give us much warning about what he was gonna do but all he said was that er he was gonna scrap our old bonus contract and implement a new one no matter what, and from various figures that were bandied about we all realized we were gonna back quite a lot worse off because of it.
(PS3D9) [3] Was the imple implementation of the bonus scheme at that time linked t to the new s er the new saw table?
David (PS3DA) [4] I I think so.
[5] It was partly with the new saw table and also he wanted to try and get more er sellable saleable product out of the slate, cos previously we had been throwing away quite a bit or giving it to [...] and I think it really started as a family argument between him and his brother.
[6] In [...] , his brother in law in [...] you know and er he was somewhat hurt that his brother in law Will was getting a tremendous share of small blocks and he wanted to make more money out of them.
(PS3D9) [7] H how did it become apparent that the new erm bonus scheme was going to operate to your disadvantage?
David (PS3DA) [8] Well we certainly saw it as a disadvantage, he thought we'd be er very well off with it.
[9] I think er [...] through the figures that he was producing we all realized something was up and various computers flying around the place you know, and the figures produced by them.
[10] That's you know it was all purely hypothetical the figures they produced but er they were comparing it to what we had pr previously been producing we all sort of realized that for a set production figure we could have been up to forty pound worse off, per week.
(PS3D9) [11] C can you give me some idea of er the level of erm [...] I'll call it education, the level of education [...] people that were working er about the bonus scheme that er
David (PS3DA) [12] Well I I think er it's it's quite hard to to talk about it but er cer I th I think people were grieved that the bonus system that had been going since the quarry was started up again by [...] 's father was gonna be scrapped with really no consultation with the workers if you like, and I think everybody thought that you know we'd been producing a lot of slate and been paid well for it previously and he should leave well alone.
[13] You know both sides were very happy you know it was up with the company or down with the company you know, and I think certainly the younger lads sort of saw it as an infringement upon their future, you know we've all got mortgages and the o older men who'd been working since the quarry started you know were gonna see a drop in their standard of living, so I think you know people were getting a bit upset you know that a n a new fella h a new face had come in, and all of a sudden you know changes were being made that were gonna hurt everybody financially.
(PS3D9) [14] Was the ... the [...] of the new bonus scheme the only cause for unrest at that time?
David (PS3DA) [15] I think so yes, yeah.
[16] Yeah, I I can't think of any other things that you know that would have led to us sort of withdrawing our labour,e everything else could've settled amicably or through discussions with the union.
[17] No I think it was purely the financial aspect of the thing.
(PS3D9) [18] When it became clear t to you that the bo the new bonus scheme was not operating [...] to your advantage, how did you go about representing your feelings to the quarry owners?
David (PS3DA) [19] I think almost daily there were discussions between our two shop stewards and the quarry owners about you know, levels of production, expected targets, increase in production and all this, and er I think you know through those daily discussions we made our side of the argument known and we we told him that we'd work to rule if things weren't proper and if we didn't like it.
[20] I it's just the attitude about th the way he went about the whole thing.
[21] That's what upset us most.
[22] You know it seemed to be that we had a working rule that had functioned reasonably well over the years and all of a sudden he was tearing up various paragraphs that didn't suit him, and altering bits you know and changing them round just to suit the company, and all to our disadvantage.
(PS3D9) [23] Er you v vindicated that you were in fact talking on quite a sophisticated level with the quarry owners in the sense that you were able to break up your argument into various categories as as you've said.
[24] How how was this sophistication accepted by the quarry owners?
David (PS3DA) [25] Erm well a at one time, when we put various arguments to him, he just turned round and decided that everyone over sixty would be surplus to requirements and er [laugh] and sent down the road if you like.
[26] Well you know we weren't too impressed with that and the next day he took that back and re-employed them.
[27] But er no it seems strange you're dealing with a man who's got your future in his h in his hands, yet he can turn round and do stupid things like that, and totally just disregard the human aspect if you like.
(PS3D9) [28] You mention the fact that er you were talking to a new manager or relatively new, erm had w was the trouble if you like in any way related to the appointment of this new manager?
David (PS3DA) [29] Well, I I was fairly new in the company myself so I hadn't worked for his father for long before [...] took over the managership or chairmanship or whatever he is, so I I'm really not too sure about the whole thing but certainly for a quarry manager or quarry director or owner, he didn't really know the slate as well as the workers, and he was expecting things out of his workers and the slate, the product, that were really just not on.
[30] You know, it couldn't be you know w we we couldn't produce what he wanted, and certainly the material wasn't there for the things he wanted to do, and yet he seemed to assume that he knew everything and wouldn't take any advice from the experienced men in the quarry.
(PS3D9) [31] Was was any attempt made by the the experienced men the one who the ones who understood the rock and been in the presumably been in the industry [...]
David (PS3DA) [cough]
(PS3D9) [32] was there any attempt by them to ed educate him [...]
David (PS3DA) [33] Well I I think er he's of the age where he was unwilling to learn.
[34] He thought that modern techniques could be put to use, where in some cases they'd been tried and failed beforehand.
[35] I mean he went off to Italy and bought at great expense a wire saw, [...] have had a wire saw for years and that hasn't proved successful.
[36] Okay in Italy on the marble it does work, but on the slate it you know it it hasn't worked and I think various quarries have tried it and found out that it doesn't work, and yet he assumed that he knew better and you know, [...] little little things like that, you know he just seemed unwilling to learn or lis heed advice.
(PS3D9) [37] Was was there any sort of attempt to er [...] acquisition of expensive equipment now, was there any attempt made to gain the er the knowledge of the workforce on what would be suitable machinery to buy?
David (PS3DA) [38] Well I suppose he might have asked some of the fitters, but I doubt it somehow seeing some of the acquisitions that he made from Llanberis when they were closing down there.
[39] And he probably asked the quarry manager and the under manager there.
[40] I know the under manager went off to Italy to look at this saw.
[41] But er he never asked me, put it that way, what I thought was suitable machinery and he, as far as I know he never asked other rock men what they thought was suitable for the rock and other slate makers what they thought was suitable for inside the mill, or the diamond saw operators, what sort of saws they thought were the best.
(PS3D9) [42] If you had've been asked, would you [...] for what he actually bought?
David (PS3DA) [43] Certainly the saw he bought for the mill I think that has great prospects and you know there's no two ways about it, it could help production and ease the work of the workforce.
[44] [...] sort of in conjunction with that, that has to go you know i has to be tied in with a bonus contract that suits the workforce.
[45] And you know, no two ways about it that saw was definitely a a good acquisition.
[46] But various other bits of machinery which are now lying idle around the quarry probably would've been better left in Italy or Spain or wherever they were acquired from.
(PS3D9) [47] W was there a feeling when the this this saw table was acquired,d did you have any feeling that it was a way of controlling the wages?
David (PS3DA) [48] No I don't think so.
[49] No.
[50] I in what way?
(PS3D9) [51] In the sense that production could be upped but your level of income wouldn't not be permitted t to rise, [...] .
David (PS3DA) [52] Oh yeah,i in that way er certainly when he produced the bonus contract to go with the saw table, you know we w that was fairly plain, that production would have risen in his estimates quite considerably, and yet our wages in fact would have dropped [laughing] quite [] considerably so, yes I mean er it didn't seem quite to tally in the way we would have like to have seen it.
(PS3D9) [53] D c c could you have visualized any way in which ... production could have been controlled apart from his [...] down about a certain amount?
David (PS3DA) [54] Well there's a physical limit to how much we could produce in a an eight hour shift and all the slate makers were adamant that the figures he reckoned they could produce and what they reckoned they could produce you know they were totally different.
[55] So I mean there is a limit to how much we can earn, you know bonus-wise.
[56] So I I do don't think he could control it that much.
[57] But what we realized was that even if we hit his estimates we were still gonna be worse off.
(PS3D9) [58] After you'd been erm in daily discussions w with the management, when did it occur to you that things w just not gonna happen?
David (PS3DA) [59] Well i it was [...] I'm not quite sure [...] we we got the other two quarries in the company, in the group of companies, together and told them our problems, and they said right okay fair enough, we'll help you.
[60] And I think it was, we were willing to go back to work and carry on discussions, albeit without earning any bonus because we were working to rule at the time, but it was what happened in er the [...] quarry that really started the strike, when he laid the workforce off because they were helping us, or joining us in sympathetic action, you know there was a lockout up there, so I think that speeded up things considerably.
[61] We all thought right okay, we'll get out for a few days and matters'll come to a head, get sorted out and we'd be back at work, happy as anything you know, everything sorted within a couple of weeks.
[62] Unfortunately it was not to be. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [63] What w ho wh was the reaction when you decided you would work to rule?
David (PS3DA) [64] Erm, the management certainly weren't too impressed, [laugh] which is understandable.
[65] But on the other hand, we were only working to rule, we were working by rules and regulations laid down from various Acts and negotiated er agreements.
[66] But erm certainly we were a lot worse off, cos we we were just earning a day rate, instead of any bonus you know we had no bonus at all.
[67] So yeah we all thought, we'll work to rule a couple of weeks, things'll get sorted and we'll all be back to normal.
(PS3D9) [68] You said that the other t t two quarries were sort of l l l linked er with you.
[69] How did you how d how did it arise that there was this degree of cooperation?
David (PS3DA) [70] Well I think there were niggling little points in all the quarries, the workforce certainly hasn't been happy up in [...] for a long time.
[71] In [...] I think things have ticked over er various little things have been sorted but all internally without resorting to outside help.
[72] And because each of the directors seems to have a share in the brother's or brother in law's concerns you know we all thought right, if they're gonna play the game together, we'll play the game together, and see what happens.
[73] And you know when after we had withdrawn our labour, then various things arose in [...] that needed sorting out, and the bonus system there, if we thought ours was unfair, their's was totally out the window.
[74] At least we were earning some money, and they were ending up owing the company money I think.
(PS3D9) [75] Was the the degree of cooperation, was it was it on an informal basis or was it er through the Transport and General that you got together?
David (PS3DA) [76] Erm, we called a lodge meeting before the annual leave, annual shutdown, and in that lodge meeting all three quarries agreed to go on a work to rule as from the resumption of work, which is second week of August.
[77] I can't remember in fact if there was a Transport official there.
[78] I suppose there must have been but I can't remember.
[79] So I I think it started on an informal basis, you know everyone was just a little bit fed up with the way they're being treated and the way you know [...] been told how much we could earn, how we could earn it, when when we could earn it and all this sort of palaver.
[80] So [...] it started informally.
(PS3D9) [81] What was what was the expectation if any er at that time regarding the effect of your action?
David (PS3DA) [82] Well I think it the they've small workforces in each of the three quarries, I think there are twenty in [...] , and twenty odd in [...] and we thought well twenty men aren't really gonna hurt the quarry the companies, the group of companies that much, because slate will still be produced in the other two.
[83] So if we can hurt them or certainly gang together if you like, cos unity is strength, and between the three workforces they'll certainly slow down production [...] and hopefully force things.
(PS3D9) [84] [...] lodge, was there any erm were there any individuals who were particularly keen and had an idea of what they wanted and and who were who were who were obviously older and more organized than the others [...]
David (PS3DA) [85] I think at the onset we all thought, it's not gonna last long you know a couple of weeks at the most.
[86] I remember coming home and discussing with my wife that [...] another friend that it'd only be a couple of weeks and we'd be back to work.
[87] No I think at the onset we were all well we were all beginners at the game if you like.
[88] So there were no little budding little strike leaders or Arthur Scargills in the pack.
[89] So no I think er we all stuck it together at the start, not really knowing where it was gonna lead us.
(PS3D9) [90] Why do you think it didn't fail er early on as a strike, er a as the fact it was only predicted it would last two or three weeks but it was obvious at the time it was gonna go on.
[91] Why didn't it fail?
David (PS3DA) [92] Well, had we given in then god only knows what would have happened in both our quarry and the other two quarries.
[93] I'm sure the system would have been implemented in the [...] quarry, and they would've suffered even worse than us.
[94] In [...] their bonus would never have been sorted out.
[95] I think the whole idea of us managing to stick together for seven months, you know th the fact that we did, bar a few exceptions, you know it's it's amazing.
[96] With the help of the women. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [97] Ho how in fact di di did you keep on go you said mentioned you were out for seven months.
[98] When it began to dawn that you were going to be out more than a fortnight or three weeks, did anything emerge that w that you can see was to keep you encouraged for that period?
David (PS3DA) [99] I think as soon as people from outside of the community, and the quarrying community, as soon as they started giving us support, telling us right, we'll help you, both financially and you know physically and what have you, you know the students, the women's support group, when things started getting organized.
[100] You know then we thought right, we're not just gonna forget about this you know, we'll we'll carry on for a little while longer and then as soon as the ball really started rolling, er personally I thought well you can't back down now, [laugh] .
(PS3D9) [101] How how many others do you think had the same reaction t t to you?
David (PS3DA) [102] Erm certainly I think all of our quarry, the [...] quarry, I think we were overwhelmed with the support because it was really in our place that the dispute started and a lot of other people who I'd spoken to you know they they were amazed at the support we received and, seemed to be the shyer the people you know the, some of the lads they never spoke much at lodge meetings, but after a while they'd be getting up and saying their pieces and, you know I think it's just because you knew you had backing, and people helping and urging you on, advising you, and the union helping and you know they leant over backwards in various fields to help us.
[103] As soon as we realized we had such tremendous support and you know er right we'll give this a go and we're gonna win.
(PS3D9) [104] Y you mentioned that the [clears throat] that it was a great encouragement to you to have outside support.
[105] Did it have you any any idea why you had so much support, all all of a sudden?
David (PS3DA) [106] Well, people that I spoke to, spoken to from Cardiff, they they originally got involved because one of the lads used to work up in the factory, the chairman of their labour club, and after that I don't, politically you know it started off completely non political, but after a while people latched on to it as a dispute that could be won, and you know that would be one up for the workers and the country.
[107] Unfortunately that wasn't to be, I er we came a good second but there you go.
[108] [...] people latched onto it as something that wasn't a political strike, wasn't being led by militants, revolutionaries, what have you, and it was something, it was just for the freedom of the working man if you like, and his standard of living was not gonna suffer because of bosses intransig intransigence [laugh] I'll say it right in a while, [laugh] and what have you.
[109] [...] no we we're not gonna suffer and we're gonna win, we can win.
(PS3D9) [110] You mention the fact that erm there was a feeling that it was a s because of the size of the workforce, it was possibly a strike which could be won?
David (PS3DA) [111] Yeah I think, small workforce, I mean twenty in our quarry, if one or two [...] back to work that's not really gonna help the management.
[112] You know if you got five or six thousand and a few go back to work you know, they can start getting a production run going, but because of the nature of our work, everyone depends on everyone else.
[113] [...] really needs the whole twenty men back to start viable production again.
(PS3D9) [114] [clears throat] W was there a f a feeling during that period th you were going to win?
David (PS3DA) [115] Oh yeah.
[116] Yeah I was convinced we were gonna win.
[117] [...] at the start, but as things went on, and just the fact that we never had any talks between the union and the management.
[118] The management ref refused to talk all the time and after a while it just got depressing, the fact that nothing seemed to be happening.
(PS3D9) [119] How did you explain to your own s s satisfaction during those months that no talks were going on, that [...] into into com into communicating with the quarry [...] ?
David (PS3DA) [120] No, there was just nothing we could do.
[121] It'd got to the stage where the workforce were not gonna talk to the management on a an official level, you know we were still talking informally at the picket line and, you know still trying to be helpful and offer our advice on what could be done to solve the dispute.
[122] But you know further up the ladder, the union officials and what have you, it was just, they tried, the council tried and all this, and nothing seemed to happen.
(PS3D9) [123] Had there ever been a a feeling amongst the members of the lodge that erm that with this in increasing involvement with outsid outsiders, the local M Ps, the ministers of religion, the er Transport and General Workers' Union, et cetera, as well as coverage by H T V and the B B C that there would be a kind of accumulation of pressure and you would they would give in?
David (PS3DA) [124] Yeah, yeah.
[125] We all assumed that because of the, yeah the media pressure, at least talks would start, but I think possibly the management thought that because of this one-sided pressure, you know it seemed at the time that nothing nice was being said about the management, you know you can almost understand them being reluctant to go into a room and offering their side of the argument.
[126] Yeah I I think, had they given their side of the argument at the onset, then er things would've been different.
[127] But because they refused for one reason or another to dis you know to have talks with the press or television or the ministers, whoever, I think they they burnt their boats. [cough]
(PS3D9) [128] At what point erm did i er did it become an official dispute, [...] how how [...] at the point of becoming an official dispute?
David (PS3DA) [129] I think when we were, as far as I can remember is when we were sent either letters of, letters to warn us that we were gonna be dismissed if we didn't turn up for work or either when we were dismissed.
[130] Er from then on, you know, things were really put in put into action.
(PS3D9) [131] Was that, was that er on the basis of your acting c collectively as a as a lodge or was it again was it shop stewards who acted [...] ?
David (PS3DA) [132] No, no i ever every decision was taken at the lodge, the shop stewards didn't run the strike [...] between them and just inform us after every decision was taken by all fifty members at the start and forty members at the finish, and I'm you know I'm proud to say that everyone was part of what went on.
[133] And it wasn't just a few people leading others whichever way they felt was necessary.
[134] You know sure there were committees to manage either financial affairs, or various other bits and pieces that went on, but even then decisions they took were taken to the lodge to be voted on.
(PS3D9) [135] So in a sense, everything that went on was was erm fully exposed in a sense, everyone
David (PS3DA) [136] Yeah, yeah
(PS3D9) [137] knew what was going on?
David (PS3DA) [138] I mean everybody knew what was going on, they might have had their own interpretations of what they'd been told, but that happens, and as I said you know, every decision was voted on by the full lodge of the three quarries.
[139] You know, the decision whether we were gonna go back to work because of these threatening letters was taken by the forty well fifty members of the lodge, so in effect I was sacked by people who had since returned to work, but you know that's how it should be.
(PS3D9) [140] Was there any feeling when these letters were received that they were to be taken seriously or they were in fact a bluff?
David (PS3DA) [141] Erm, I think the wording of the letters was [tape change] [...]
(PS3D9) [...]
David (PS3DA) [142] Oh [...] I was in repudiation of my contract well I dunno what what it means to repude some things, [...] you know I jumped to get a dictionary and found out, but I really don't know what my contract was because I don't think we ever had any.
[143] But you know, certainly the way the letters had been written, and the fact that they became by recorded delivery, you know if it was a bluff, it was, certainly fooled me. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [144] What did you decide er as a as a lodge whe when these letters were received?
David (PS3DA) [145] To be honest I wasn't there, I was down at my sister's wedding.
[146] [laughing] But from what I gathered [] [laugh] erm yeah we were gonna carry on, we weren't gonna be forced back to work, cos had we gone back under their conditions, then god only knows what I'd be earning now.
[147] You know about twenty pound a week I suppose or something stupid.
(PS3D9) [148] When er [...] when the co when the strike began to get into into top gear, can you give me any idea of how as a lodge you were organized [...] er picket duty?
David (PS3DA) [149] Right.
[150] When when the strike first started, being in the summer months we needed quite a strong picket line to talk to the tourists, at various gates cos that was the main source of income at the quarry at that time.
[151] After the tourist season finished, and various cars were either written off or collapsed or whatever, you know whoever had a car was put forward as the picket you know er the leader of that picket er shift, and then it was just a question of working round.
[152] [...] I think we had twelve or thirteen cars, so that was twelve shifts we could cover, we had three gates to cover cover, so and forty men, and just shared them out and that was all computerized, printed out, everyone had a copy, and on the whole it worked very very well.
[153] You know we managed to man the gates in working hours and forced the company to shift slate at ungodly hours in the morning, and I think people were impressed that we managed to stick it out.
[154] You know I think that's the one drawback of having a small workforce, the fact that if one sh picket didn't turn up, you know all of us on your th the force on the gate if you like was er a third of what it could've been.
[155] Or a half.
(PS3D9) [156] Had you never er prior to this, had you ne had any experience of er
David (PS3DA) [157] None at all.
(PS3D9) [158] None at all?
David (PS3DA) [159] None at all.
(PS3D9) [160] What was it like the [...] during the first times y you went on the [...] ?
David (PS3DA) [161] It was it was fun when we first started, because the weather was nice, you know it was er you c take a thermos up and have a picnic and sit in the chair and read a book or whatever if there was no one around, but after a while when it became a duty, yeah it was hard work getting up on a winter's morning, knowing full well that you probably wouldn't see any cars if you down in [...] until about ten in the morning, but you still had to be there at seven o'clock, and honking it down with rain or whatever.
[162] No it was it was hard work after then.
(PS3D9) [163] [cough] In the erm in the early days, how did you how did you approach the people who were coming up up to the gate?
David (PS3DA) [164] I think from what I've heard, every shift had its own little methods of trying to turn people away or advising them not to come in.
[165] Certainly we just told them what the problem was, told them that there was ever such a nice quarry further down the road if they wanted to visit a slate quarry.
[166] And for that I think are very thankful.
[167] [laugh] . And er we were truthful, we tried to put our side of the argument, you know there were the few people who said, well I don't really care, and drove in.
[168] Well you know, you win some you lose some.
[169] But every shift had its own methods.
[170] [laugh] And I won't say any more than that. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [171] You you mentioned that er after the time presumably when the the winter began to come on, erm became more of a an obligation [...] how did you keep [...] motivated to turn up?
David (PS3DA) [172] I think it was just the thought that if one shift didn't turn up or if people stopped turning up, then others wouldn't turn up and it'd just escalate until everyone was just sitting at home in front of the fire and the quarries would function as normal, and the fact, well certainly with me, I thought well we have to make an appearance to show people that we are still on strike and keep, you know everyone who drives past us will be saying, ah hello what's up with them?
[173] They'll be reading about it in the paper then, trying to find out, spreading the word, and you know every every time someone drove past the picket line, there was a bit of bad publicity for the quarries and helpful for us.
(PS3D9) [174] D d do you think your perspective was a commonly held one?
David (PS3DA) [175] No there were others who thought, sod it I'm not gonna turn up, you know, why should I?
[176] And I don't know, certainly the shift I was with were very loyal, always turned up and you know we ne we never had any problems.
[177] There were other shifts where various people after a while dropped out.
[178] But you know I think certainly the shift I was with you know I er I was impressed. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [179] [cough] The ones who erm who stuck it [...] the ones who were always there, who always turned up, was there anything about them wh which could [...] which could er er identify them as as people who were, was it age or [...] ?
David (PS3DA) [180] No no I think there were all sorts, all ages, I [...] I think just maybe some were more dedicated to the job and th certainly after a couple of weeks it wasn't family if you like you know, family in inverted commas, there [...] .
[181] No I think just dedication and we, if we made an appearance maybe something would come to a head, things would get sorted, if we just said forget it then stay at home, then the quarry managers would say right forget it, we'll get another workforce in, you know it was, I think it was just I think some were dedicated to the job and sort of gave it their best, whereas others were slightly you know, willy nilly about it and well I'll turn up today cos it the weather looks nice, or I'll turn up today because the wife isn't off and or the gas has run out or whatever. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [182] Ha during this erm this period what sort of [...] business was being transacted in the lodge?
David (PS3DA) [183] Erm well certainly Tom would come up every every week, tell us what had happened, if anything.
[184] Unfortunately most weeks nothing had happened.
[185] And quite often it er degenerated into an argument about picket duties.
[186] [laugh] And the fact that quite a lot of people hadn't turned up on a certain day or that sort of thing.
[187] No I think it was just, certainly Tom tried to lift us or because over the winter months when nothing was happening negotiations-wise, you know he knew if he didn't lift us then nothing would and everyone would get so disheartened they'd just say oh sod it and back to work or forget it and what have you.
[188] So er bu business-wise I don't think much went on but he's more of an uplifting experience [laugh] [...]
(PS3D9) [189] Was his er presence [...] would you interpret his his presence as being fair fairly crucial for the continuing of the strike?
David (PS3DA) [190] Whichever way I answer this erm it's gonna be [laugh] .
[191] I think certainly we had to have a figurehead to relate to and in my opinion, Tom was the best one to have there.
[192] You know when his boss came in then things went downhill but yeah certainly Tom helped me and [...] just the fact that there was someone there who knew exactly what was going on, be it not a lot but, he was trying to help us, and give us advice and what have you.
[193] You know I think he was fairly crucial to keep us all together.
(PS3D9) [194] [cough] Are you more say on a [...] more personal level, was it at all obvious during the lodge [...] meetings that people who were out [...] people were out, were under pressure to go back?
David (PS3DA) [195] Erm, I think at the back of some people's minds there was this pressure, you know that's why a few did return to work and I mean I can understand some of them returning to work but not necessarily for the reasons they've stated.
[196] Erm I think they probably thought their jobs were at threat or the continuation of employment in their quarry and the quarry would shut down which manage management had certainly hinted at, yet which I considered to be a bluff, because no one 's gonna kill the goose that lays the golden egg.
[197] But in a lot of people's minds, no I don't think there was that you know that threat [...] .
[198] There certainly wasn't in mine because I'd I'd been sacked. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [199] Was there any sort of how can I put it, any sort of feeling that certain individuals in the lodge would go back to work?
David (PS3DA) [200] Yeah I think at the onset of the strike there were a few people who were considered likely to be forced to get back to work or to go back to work, because of what they'd said, because of well just you know because of what they say in the meetings or because of what they didn't say in the meetings.
(PS3D9) [201] You indicated that er in a sense the strike became well organized in the sense it had a great deal of support erm both moral and material and presumably financial [...] .
David (PS3DA) [202] Presumably. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [203] Erm was there any w part of it of the strike organized in the sense of you giving moral support within the lodge to people who were obviously wavering?
David (PS3DA) [204] I think that's one of the reasons Tom was there.
[205] You know he was always saying, well next week things might get better.
[206] So stick together lads just for another week, whatever we we do, if we go back to work or if we stay out, it'll be because of a unanimous vote or a majority vote in this lodge, you know w we came out together, we'll go back together or we'll stay out together.
[207] He didn't want to lose people by the wayside you know and I think that was the feeling of most of us.
[208] And that's what upset us most about these people going back to work, the fact that a meeting had been taken a few months before in which everybody had voted for us to get the sack, and then all of a sudden they had been threatened and no vote was taken on whether we should stay out or go back, and they just dribbled back to [...] , that really knocked us I think.
(PS3D9) [209] The ones who [...]
David (PS3DA) [cough]
(PS3D9) [210] eventually return to work, were they in any sense identifiable as a a group?
David (PS3DA) [211] Yeah I think they had their own little meetings in various pubs or whatever after our meetings, and certainly the management in one of the quarries seemed to have a lot of information about what went on in our lodge meetings because of various members of this clique, [...] I think we were all fairly sure that they would be returning to work, it was just when that was the crunch.
(PS3D9) [212] What was the feeling in the lodge when it eventually happened.
David (PS3DA) [213] Erm, we weren't too impressed er to put it mildly.
[214] But on the other hand we thought I suppose oh good riddance you know er rather than have a few er namby-pamby people you know sitting on the fence, we might be better off without them.
[215] But I think the number that went back, you know because of the small workforce [...] the fact that eight or nine returned to work, you know that was virtually half the workforce in one quarry, it made it quite awkward then.
(PS3D9) [216] D did you decide er either formally or informally, to take a particular attitude towards the ones that had gone back?
David (PS3DA) [217] I think everyone's got their own ways of dealing with them, you know certainly some people ignore them, you know I prefer to ignore them rather than taunt them, er possibly because I wasn't really friendly with any of them that did go back, I think people who were close friends have found it very awkward and I know even now they're probably looking daggers at each other you know, that sort of thing.
[218] It certainly the community a bit because of them.
(PS3D9) [219] Did you do you think their their return to work was in any sense crucial to the outcome of the strike?
David (PS3DA) [220] Oh yeah, yeah.
[221] I think had we managed to stick it together a bit longer, all fifty of us, and just prove to the management that we weren't gonna be starved back to work which seemed to be the way they wanted us to go back, you know because the board had you know escalated, you know I think had we managed to stick it together, certainly the result would've been different.
[222] I can't say what it would've been, you know what the outcome would've been but it would've been different. [sniff]
(PS3D9) [223] Was there any was there any sense when when I suppose it's one fifth of the workforce returned, was there any sense do you feel er that you weren't going to win?
David (PS3DA) [224] No I think, I thought we still had a chance, albeit you know the odds had gone down a bit or increased, but er no I thought we still had a chance, it was gonna be harder because if we lost any more by the wayside then you know you're gonna be, it would've been very awkward.
[225] No I think we still thought we had a chance.
(PS3D9) [226] [cough] You mentioned about erm not being starved back to work.
[227] Erm which brings in the [...] .
David (PS3DA) [228] Oh yeah, brilliant. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [229] When [...] first started, can you can you [...] what you what you felt about it, what you thought it was going to do?
David (PS3DA) [230] Well, I think some of the women and a lot of the men thought right well we'll just keep it you know between the men, it's our problem, we'll get it sorted.
[231] After a while we realized you know that's not on, it's impossible for us to sort this out you know we need help.
[232] I think the wives found it to their benefit to get amongst other wives who were sharing the same problems you know, how to pay the bills, how to buy food, and I think they seemed to get organized pretty well, they certainly helped us a hell of a lot.
[233] You know without the women's support group especially and without other support you know, we would've been starved back to work.
(PS3D9) [234] Was there any sense in which a there was a surprise at the reaction of the w women, that they [...] first of all became very organized and were very organized and [...] determined, so determined?
David (PS3DA) [235] Well a at the start of the strike, my wife was just a little bit narked that I was out of work, but after a while when she fully understood the reasons, I think, I'd like to think that she was a hundred per cent behind me and the rest of us.
[236] And certainly by what she did with the women's support group I think she was.
[237] And cer the determination of the women, that we weren't gonna be starved back to work, we weren't gonna be forced back to work, we weren't just gonna end in chaos and some of us going back and some of us staying out, I think it was the women possibly talking to their husbands or, and just reassuring each other, you know that helped us no end.
(PS3D9) [238] Has erm as a lodge, did did you [...] anything from the sort of organization the women had?
David (PS3DA) [239] Oh yeah.
[240] I mean they outclassed us no question, [laughing] no two ways about it [] , I dunno what it is.
[241] I hate to admit it in fact but er, no the way they got things organized, got lecture tours, rallies and what have you together, you know I think er taught us an incredible [laughing] amount [] .
(PS3D9) [242] Have you have you got any er idea of how i it came about that a group was so organized?
David (PS3DA) [243] I think possibly because there were outsiders in the group, I dunno.
[244] Possibly because some of them might've been councillors and knew the ways that sort of er things went on and how to get things done officially and above board.
[245] You know we were all amateurs at the game, the workers, but some of the women you know do it professionally, had worked elsewhere, knew how things went on elsewhere you know, with the D H S S or whatever.
[246] I think possibly because women are slightly more organized and what have you.
[247] You know they're used to a household budget and they know how to manage on however X many pounds a week.
[248] And if you take half of that away you know they know how to manage on that as well, somehow.
(PS3D9) [249] Do you think that realization had [...] had s hadn't surfaced until that?
David (PS3DA) [250] I never knew my wife was such a little get up and goer if you like.
[251] [laugh] Erm never knew she could write such good lectures or speeches.
[252] You know she's been hiding her light under a bushel, a bush. [laugh]
(PS3D9) [253] Has any is there way in which you from your observation there,you the erm there's been a [...] in in the relationship between the men and the and the women involved involved as a consequence of er this kind of activity?
David (PS3DA) [254] Well I do I don't know really but er certainly I I probably discuss work a lot more with my wife now than before, and let her know what's get going on there.
[255] And probably other people do as well.
[256] You know because, I think we all thought it was our problem, we can sort it out.
[257] You know, typical male attitude you know, women [...] no help at all.
[258] And after a while you know it was without the women we would've been you know nothing.
(PS3D9) [259] What what was the sort of erm help what did er did you observe was was given from the support group?
David (PS3DA) [260] I think just the fact that my wife knew what was going on, and knew the problems exactly you know, they had their own meetings and the food parcels that they could organize, you know I wouldn't have a clue how to go about it, the fact that various shops refused to have collection points inside, and they wrote off to the management of these shops and got that changed.
[261] No they just seemed to know how to go about things a hell of a lot better than we did.
[262] [...] as soon as we realized oh hang on a minute you know, they're not all bad these women [laugh] , [...] erm no really we couldn't do without them.
(PS3D9) [263] [clears throat] [...] the, it's been put to me to er interview various people or listen to other people if they can tell me about
David (PS3DA) [264] Mm.
(PS3D9) [265] the strike, that the old men [...]
David (PS3DA) [266] Oh yeah [laugh]
(PS3D9) [267] if he had been in charge, things would have been very different.
[268] Do you think that erm a n true statement?
David (PS3DA) [269] I think it's it's hard for me to say because I didn't work for him for long.
[270] You know his son took over shortly after I joined the company.
[271] Certainly from what I've heard, things would never have happened the way they did, and I think from the sort of very short dealings I had with him, things wouldn't have happened they way they did.
[272] Whether they, you know financially we'd be better off or worse off I really couldn't say [...] .
[273] I don't think we would've been standing outside the gates [...] .
(PS3D9) [274] W What would be the essence of the difference then between him and his son [...] .
David (PS3DA) [275] I think possibly respect for the workforce.
[276] You know his father had started the company and the men, the older men in the quarry had been there from day one with him, you know from when they were producing next to nothing to being quite a profitable concern, and he realized the value of these men, and that you couldn't just say, oh because they disagree with you just well, down the road pal.
[277] He realized that experience in the quarrying industry is certainly something that you don't get rid of.
[278] You know fair enough, some of the older men can't move as fast as a eighteen year old, but on the other hand it's what they got in their head that counts.
[279] I don't know, just generally respect for the workforce.
(PS3D9) [280] But this er w this this feeling of erm not being respected,w do you think in that was in any sense a an important motivation for just sticking it out amongst the older men?
David (PS3DA) [281] Erm I think they knew that if we went back under his conditions, their days would be numbered certainly.
[282] You know he'd far prefer to have two or three youngsters earning considerably less, who absolutely nothing about the industry than one slightly older, certainly vastly more experienced man and you know paying him more.
[283] You know he'd far prefer to have the cheap workforce that you could tell exactly and appear to know what he's talking about, whereas the older men knew that he knew absolutely [laughing] nothing [] .
(PS3D9) [284] Was there [clears throat] any sense of surprise really that as the quarrier was were Welshmen and most of the workforce were Welshmen that in fact things would come to some sort of agreement, that there wouldn't be this kind of
David (PS3DA) [285] As an outsider [laugh] , probably being the only Englishman in the quarries, you know I I think they were surprised, the fact that it was a local family, I think that's what really rubbed them up the wrong way.
[286] Er they'd been to chapel with them, been to school with them, worked in other places with them, and it ended like it did.
[287] You know that that did surprise a lot of them.
[288] But I don't know quite how the Welsh mentality works you know as regards you know loyalty to one's nation or whatever, but er no,l looking from the outside you know, I I thought it was a bit strange that sort of next door neighbours could end up you know completely opposed to each other.
(PS3D9) [289] Do you think it w in any sense has damaged the community?
David (PS3DA) [290] Oh yeah, it certainly has.
[291] Without a question.
[292] No erm er even now, and the [...] the strike's been finished I can't remember four months or something, three months, you know the community I think it'll take a a hell of a long time to heal the rifts and mend the scars.
[293] Possibly caused by people returning to work, I think those are the ones that really opened up the community and dropped people on either side of the fence as opposed to sitting on top of it.
(PS3D9) [294] Do you think y er you and your your mates who were out, do you think you learnt anything from the strike?
David (PS3DA) [295] Erm, well yeah I've learnt that my wife is more use than just in the kitchen.
[296] [laugh] No I think, all of a sudden you l you realize why you're in a trade union and why you need the press and the media to help you, you know you can't just ignore them.
[297] And also why you've got to talk to people, you know get your problems out in the open rather than let them build up and all of a sudden just say right, [puff of air sound] that's it, out the gates, or down tools.
[298] And I think you know the management ought to learn, hopefully they will learn a bit by that as well.
(PS3D9) [299] You I infer from that you er s you saying that if the same thing [...] this is this is [...] that if the same thing were to occur again your approach would be [...] and you'd be more more of a strategist in the handling of it.
David (PS3DA) [300] Oh yeah, yeah.
[301] I mean second time around you know what's gonna go on.
(PS3D9) [302] Mm.
David (PS3DA) [303] And I know full well now what it's like to be standing on a picket line for seven months.
[304] And it's not something that I enjoy, so that you'll try every which way to try and avoid it.
[305] But if a matter came to a head that withdrawing my labour was the only way to resolve it, that I thought was the only way to resolve it, I'd go out and do it again.
(PS3D9) [306] In those early days, was there a feeling that withdrawal of labour would in fact bring about the effect that you wanted?
David (PS3DA) [307] Oh yeah, yeah.
[308] [laugh] [...] just chatting with some of my mates, you know, oh it'll be over in a couple of weeks.
[309] That was always the way we thought.
[310] But that was not to be.
(PS3D9) [311] Was there any sp special way in which you contributed to the [...] in the strike, any particular skills you were called upon to [...] .
David (PS3DA) [312] Well, everyone seemed to think that I knew what I was doing with a computer, so the shifts, the picket shifts were left up to me, any facts and figures needed, databases, [...] addresses were left up to me.
[313] Any printouts and things.
[314] But no I think er they thought I could speak English better than some of them themselves so they sent me off to English universities or wherever to put across our problems. [...]