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FBU National Strike 40 Years Ago

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This morning at 09:00, exactly 40 years ago in 1977, I presented myself at the station as a keen sprig who had only come out of training school in October. But I was not reporting for duty. It was the first ever FBU National dispute and White watch (in LFB) were walking out on strike!!!!!!!!.

So at 09:00, my Guvnor phoned control and booked us off the run. The sense of excitement and fear was tangible. We all stood in tunics and caps on the forecourt. The off going night watch, the oncoming White Watch and a handful of off duty guys. I was despatched Back through the picket line to open a window as there was some anxiety we wouldn't be able to hear the phone call. Merlyn Rees, the Labour Home Secretary would of course cave in as soon as he saw hundreds of station forecourts full of 1000s of picketing firemen - wouldn't he?????????

Er,............... No he bloody well didn't.

As the strike rumbled on, the FBU were caught with their pants down. The picket line huts and bonfires became more sophisticated as it was clear that the 09:20 phone call we were bound to receive, slipped into history. The FBU were usual in a 1970s Union. There was no strike plan or policy so it seemed to be all made up on the hoof. But we all pretty much stuck together through the long and freezing 9 weeks over Christmas. The picket line was manned all the time including Xmas day.

There was real poverty. Mortgage interest rates hovered around 9% and it was tough to have no pay for 9 weeks. I was 18 and living at home so had it easy. Some guys were in huge difficulties. Some Banks were sympathetic and others less so. Getting into 'work' to man the picket line for those living miles away cost money the guys simply didn't have.

On January 8th (I think) we went back. We didn't get what we wanted, but we did win a pay formula that linked our salary to a comparative group of workers in industry . This stopped any more industrial action for decades

Tough days for many and a huge lesson for how Governments and the media act when provoked :(



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Wow that's quite a story Messy thanks for sharing. Enjoyed reading it. 9 weeks... hell of a long time to be out the doors I can't even begin to imagine how difficult it must have been for people.

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Some interesting history here on this Youtube video. I have only just learned from it that Firemen (sorry Dany) were real men. They/we didn't shave in the 70s or do anything girly like going for a haircut. I have also learned from this video that the Church described strikers as 'No better than terrorists' . That is some insult coming from an institution later beset by covert peodophiles ! Mind you, the IRA did eventually express support for the strike - Crazy times


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Ironically, it is 15 years ago this week that we walked out of the doors again. Very strange times of which I was involved in. Although not out for 9 weeks, we did complete a full week plus other 2 days strike here and there.

Those who are looking in on this and not yet in the job, take note that the conditions we have now were fought for by those in 1977 and that we are still fighting now to maintain and keep most of them.

For those interested, more information can be found here for the 2002 dispute.

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Some people had bad memories of the 1977 strike, I personally had very good and happy memories.

To this very day when I hear the song Mull of Kintyre takes me back to November 1977 hauntingly played over and over again and echoing through the appliance 

If you want a feel for this period go to my website @ Davewilsonuk and read Drums and Band during the strike,   

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