Roland Coburn explains the ten-hour break!

You were well rewarded?

Well, you were well rewarded in the sense that you got overtime, and overtime was often an incentive for a lot of people to go beyond what was normal. On World in Action — and it went through across the board — if you did work overtime, you’d have to have what they called a ‘ten-hour break’.

Explain that. 

Basically, after you’ve done a day, you’re meant to have a ten-hour break, and a ten-hour break is, which is at least ten hours before you restarted work again. This was brought in by the unions to stop people working until three or four o’clock in the morning, going home, and coming back at eight o’clock. So it was a penalty, and the penalty was, if you didn’t have a ten-hour break between finishing work and starting again, the following day you would be on double time. So it meant that the people who wanted you to work would think, ‘we can’t afford that, so you’d better go home now’.

However, if you were on a programme that was really up against it — it happened on World in Action numerous times. Sometimes, I would go home, having worked maybe twenty hours a day for three days on the trot. The first day was double time, the second day was four-T an hour and the third day was eight-T an hour. So it actually doubled up. So all of a sudden, you’re finishing your last day and you’ve been there for maybe ten hours, and you’re on eight-T an hour. If there was any incentive to want to keep going, that was the one to do it.

The downside was that it would cut out the budget, so you knew this wasn’t going to go on forever, because companies couldn’t afford this kind of money. But again, sometimes on World in Action, I’d start on Saturday morning and I’d go home Monday night, and you’d work through two or three days with no sleep.  So I think you deserved to be paid that extra money, because it’s a long haul to go through that much time without any sleep. The next thing you know, you have a day off and you’re back in work again the following Wednesday. You do that for a few months and then you’re really on your hands and knees by the end of the run, before the summer break came and things like that.

But it was never going to last. I understand that the unions were trying to save people, to stop them working, but you knew that this kind of money couldn’t go from all the budgets. So somewhere along the line it would have to stop and, unfortunately, it did, and it cut budgets down left, right and centre. You got very little overtime. If you did, it was just simple time-and-a-half which, again, is fine,

Leave a Reply