Jim Grant on the 1979 TV strike

But a really serious formal situation, union versus management, and literally came to a head for me in a super personal way. As a metaphor, in 1979, the annual negotiations were going really badly and the ITN shop in London got into a particularly advanced situation and walked out. And so, the ITN content was going to be provided by non-union labour. And the first show that contained in the non-union labour was one particular day, the one o’clock news from ITN. And we knew this of course and ACTT’s position was to support NUJ and black the non-union content. And so at 1pm on that particular day, I was at the controls. And as the assistant sitting next to the controller and my fingers were on the fader. And on the one hand, on my left shoulder, I had Andrew Quinn ordering me to take the feed at the top of the hour. On my right shoulder, I had Malcolm Foster, the ACTT shop steward ordering me not to take the feed at the top of the hour. And my hand was on the fader, the clock ticked to the top of the hour and I went to black. I did not take it. I obeyed the union. And so Andrew Quinn said, “You’re fired, leave the building.” So technically I was fired from Granada twice, that was the first time. And at that point, 13:00 hours, I was fired, left the building and we were all locked out. We were all thrown out, all locked out. I mean, people say on strike, but technically it was a lockout for 11 weeks in 1979. And somebody said to me recently, I don’t know whether it’s true or not, somebody said to me recently, that was the last strike that our union won because we did win it. We came back with a 25% pay rise, immediately full restitution of missed wages, a promise of another 25% the next year and all that kind of thing.

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