The Work-in: When the Eyes of the World Were on the Clyde August 29, 2011Posted by Tomboktu in Uncategorized.
A BBC Radio Four “Archive on 4” programme might interest CLRers.
“We are not going to strike. We are not even having a sit-in strike. Nobody and nothing will come in and nothing will go out without our permission. And there will be no hooliganism, there will be no vandalism, there will be no bevvying, because the world is watching us.” (Jimmy Reid)
Forty years ago, shipyard workers in Glasgow embarked on a paradigm-shifting piece of industrial action. The general public of the 1970s were used to strikes. But a mass work-in in the Clyde ship yards drew support from across the political spectrum, and delivered a humiliating blow to the Heath Government.
In June 1971 John Davies, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, declared there will be no more state subsidies for the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders – all part of Ted Heath’s plans to remove “lame duck” industries from the public purse. Shop steward Jimmy Reid’s responded: “We don’t only build ships on the Clyde, we build men. They have taken on the wrong people and we will fight.”
The eyes of the world’s media fell on Clydeside for the fourteen month work-in. Radio Four revisits the dramatic confrontations at Westminster between John Davies and Tony Benn, the Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, and reveals a private meeting between union leaders and Ted Heath at No 10, where they were reputedly offered whisky, but refused.
Journalist John Lloyd looks back at the extraordinary story of how Clydesiders took their future into their own hands, and looks at its relevance to current day events.
It is available to listen until Friday here.