Saturday, May 27, 2006

When I first became a shop steward in the 1960's it was at the Hardy Spicer drive shaft factory in Erdington, Birmingham. The Transport and General Workers Union convenor at the time was Bill Morris, who went on to become General Secretary of the TGWU, a Govenor of the Bank of England and Sir Bill. I always thought Bill was made to be a full-time official... always on the lookout for a moderate way solution. His equivalent in the National Society of Metal Mechanics, Graham Gould, was always far more robust, militant and aggressive, like Jimmy Cagney on speed. Strangely, whether by his choice or theirs, Graham never became a full time official, nor did he get the queen's gong. Hardy Spicer was taken over by GKN, and when the Harold Wilson referendum took place over continued membership of the Common Market, management dished out car stickers to everyone calling for a 'Yes' to Europe result. Enough to make anyone a Eurosceptic in my book and I forecast at the time that as soon as they got the 'yes' vote they would shift production to Europe (at last, 30 years later, I can say 'I told you so'). Anyway... it looks like the next document the workforce get from their employer is likely to be a P45. The deindustrialisation of Britain, started under Thatcher and continued unabated through Major and Blair, carries on relentlessly.