Tuesday, July 19, 2005

I had some cause to be grateful to Edward Heath. In 1973 there was what was described at the time as "an energy crisis" Heath, the Tory Prime Minister had picked a fight with the NUM at the same time as OPEC started hiking up the price of oil. The Government introduce a 'three-day-week' during which industry was limited to working only on three consecutive days each week. He also introduced an incomes policy designed to stop people fueling inflation with high pay rises. As part of this incomes policy everyone received a flat-rate pay increase of £2.40 a week... with a further 40p per week rise for every 1% increase in the retail price inflation, up to a maximum increase of £6 per week. Inflation duly shot up and everyone, irrespective of who you were, ended up with a £6 a week wage increase. I was a young and fairly inexperienced ASTMS Branch Secretary at GKN in Birmingham at the time and a lot of my members, particularly the office and admin staff, suddenly found that their wages (some as low as £10-15 a week) rdramaticallyally. Of course, modesty prevented me taking the full credit for reducing the working week and doubling people's wages. Honest.