Long-serving employees remembered the long strikes and frequent walk-outs of the 1970s. Mass meetings in the car park and line stoppages were common.

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As a Ford employee you tend to be put into a box of someone who’s quite militant and always going out on strike. Back in, definitely back in the ‘80s if you were to say to somebody, ‘I work for Ford’. They’d say, ‘Oh, oh, always out on strike, then.’

I’ve never been out on strike, all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never, ever been out on strike. Never.

Russ M

In those days the unions were very strong in the plant. It was the days before Maggie Thatcher and the union bashing, so you had to be very careful what you did. There were so many strikes and stoppages over silly things. And those stoppages were going on, were regular. There wasn’t a week went by without one.

In the ‘70s we had two major strikes in Ford, I think the first one was in ’79. And in the end after 9 weeks strike and bringing the company to ransom, really, Ford said they’ll pay it. We had something over 25% pay rise. Ridiculous amounts.

But it was difficult times. There were periods when the hourly paid hardly did a full week because of some little Mickey Mouse stoppage somewhere. If somebody decided they didn’t like something. I mean, if one section went home the plant stopped, simple as that.

Martin W

The only way the company understand anything is if you make a stand. And we have been on strike a few times here as well over the years, though not for a long time now.

But it was normally to do with terms and conditions ‘cos they wanted to change something that you didn’t think that should have been changed and that’s what normally they were about. It wasn’t really ever about the money.

In those days you could actually go out into the car park, put your hand up and go on strike just after or walk out of the plant after that. You make your decision and you’d be on strike in the afternoon.

Andy B

The big change here, I think it was in the early ‘80s when Ford came up with a scheme to pay what was called the Attendance Allowance.

And what it did, in one of the pay deals, was, if production ran all week for 40 hours with no unofficial stoppages, no strikes, meetings in the car park, all that sort of stuff, you got paid, I think it was about £8 a week, extra as a lump.

So this was now money. So people then, it started to filter out the real trouble makers from the ones that were just going along with the gang as it were.

Because if you had to go home and say to your wife, ‘I lost me Attendance Allowance because I went out in the car park for a meeting over some minor issue, because your mate over there decides he wants to have an argument with the foreman about his orange squash or something, you know. Your wife sort of hit you with the rolling pin, didn’t she?

So that started, it separated them. So the majority began to get stronger, not be run by the militants, as it were. And I think that was one of the turning points when the management managed rather than the union managed

Martin W