Jim Grant remembers the unions at the start of his career at Granada

Many things by coincidence from the beginning of my career to the end and were a progression. And those 18 years were really an arc for the union. It started out when I joined, it was absolutely all powerful. It was an old-fashioned traditional trade union, a fascinating thing actually, because fundamentally the structure and the tactics and the context in which it worked was entirely an old-fashioned 1950s trade union, except the people in it were much more of a kind of professional association type of person. It was a very difficult balance actually, because the members were obviously either very creative and intelligent or very engineering, intelligent, fundamentally middle-class people living middle-class lives, on a similar pay scale to any other professional that might be their neighbours. Back then a camera operator was earning the same as any solid middle-class person. It was a solid, middle-class job. But they were in the trade union. And so you have these sort of suburban, middle-class people, who would have been at home in like the BMA or some professional trade organisation or something, but they were in a mechanism that was fundamentally the same as British Leyland. But it was very effective, we were well-paid.

Of course, when I started in the late 70s, don’t forget that was a period of incredibly high inflation. And from Granada’s point of view, of course, inflation did not matter because they could adjust their rate cards day by day if they wanted to. In other words, their revenue could go up as much as they wanted, but our salaries were fixed apart from the annual pay negotiation. And that became very, very bitter because they had a kind of knee-jerk sort of reflex about being combative about it. Even though there was money sloshing around, the profits were very high, they were doing really well, they sort of played a role – they had to be the tough employer, we had to be the tough trade union. It was a bit theatrical to be honest, but it was played out in tremendous detail.

Of course, against the background of that high inflation, we were looking for double digit pay rises every year, sometimes 20 or more percent. I remember my first year I came as a trainee. I finished that training so, that was extra pay. Then I passed my one-year anniversary, that was extra pay. Then we got our annual settlement that year, and my pay went up 45 per cent in that one year. And then the next year we put in a pay claim for like 30 percent because of inflation. And it continued like that.

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