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Jan 16 1978. End of the FBU National Strike

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January 16th 1978 saw the end of the first and only National FBU strike.  It had lasted 9 long weeks.

It was particularly long if you had a family and a mortgage and had to do without pay for over two months over the Christmas period. Interest rates (now under 2%) were 9% and inflation (now marginal) was 16%

I was 18 and it was a temporary blip to me as my  Mum stopped my rent, leaving me reasonably unaffected. But others suffered badly. We didn't get what we set out to achieve, but in many ways we did better. We won a link to a certain group of workers (known as the upper quartile of manual workers) which meant we automatically achieved the same annual pay rise as this group. No arguing, no negotiations and hopefully then end of any more disputes

End of Pay Strike

A bit more about the strike here

Nine Week Struggle

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Interesting read and utterly incomprehensible to me that blokes were able to survive so long while picking up pay packets of £0. 

I wonder what public reaction would be like today were it to be repeated?

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Society has changed a lot since the 70s. My dad worked in the print & every week they donated money to the firefighters as they believed in their worthy cause. A lot of unionised jobs have now unfortunately gone including most of the jobs in the print. 

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I read 9 Weeks At Hammersmith by Dave Wilson and was astounded at what the firemen on the picket line endured. Although the bit about the young and single lads volunteering to man the picket ( and thus have an empty fire station at the height of the party season ) made me laugh

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Remember it like yesterday. Worked on a station with 3 wholetime pumps (remember them?) plus specials. Picketing normally in line with watch rota, except Christmas where those without kids worked it to give those with kids time with family.

BA sets in cars for Persons Reported jobs (God we were naive) as control still operated turn out system on station.

Amazing generosity from public. 

It'll be over in a week.

It'll be over by the end of the month

It'll be over by Christmas

It'll be over by New Year

We're going back on 16th for the same offer.

At least it brought us the pay formula. It would be interesting to do a comparison between current pay and what it would have been under the formula.

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Got mentioned at my station re the old pay formula. Think an old hand worked it out and for a FF it would have been £36-38 K

Edited by Carl
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  • 2 years later...

I was single and living at home during the strike, so relatively unaffected, but all the guys I worked with almost insisted on manning the picket line. It's no secret that while the Army were doing what they were told and trying their best to cover for a fully professional, trained service, there were many areas in which they were woefully under equipped or not equipped at all. Breathing apparatus was one such area, which is why some of the lads took in upon themselves to load fire gear and BA sets into their own cars and to follow the Green Goddesses in case they were needed.

Needless to say, if the sets were used, they were cleaned and put away with only the minimum of air having been used as there were no charging stations replacing the cylinders and we only held spares on board the machines.

'Twas a tense time.

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