The British at Work s01e02 Episode Script

Them and Us 1964 -1980

From the colossal factories and yards of the post-war world to our fragmented, insecure, modern working lives, this is a history of the way we have worked.
It's a story of epic change.
In the last seven decades we've seen how work has changed from being just what you do to who you are.
In my own family, we've built ships and sold groceries, worked in the typing pool and on the factory floor.
My grandmother put the walnut on top of your Walnut Whip.
But during the '60s and '70s, my family, like so many, found their working hours shadowed by conflict.
These were the years when our workplaces were divided between them and us, when work was a war zone.
You'll get as much as you are prepared to go out and take.
These years at work were not all quarrel and racket.
They were also years of reward People wanted better standards of living, better standards of prosperity.
.
.
and years of ambition.
Do you like being a boss? Oh, yes.
Revel in it.
From the factory floor to the open-plan office, our work got us the things our hearts desired.
TILL DRAWERS OPEN AND CLOSE Ground floor, perfumery Stationery and leather goods Wigs and haberdashery Kitchenware and food, going up Are You Being Served? A bit of sitcom, slapstick silliness.
Put it down.
Shall I put that down? No, I don't want that put down! A bit of cheeky innuendo.
They'd have to pull the handle a lot of times before they got my cherries up.
And in 1975, a spasm of angry, workplace strife.
This meeting authorises me to put our demands before the management and to form a strike committee with carte blanche to take industrial action.
Hands up all those for the motion.
A row over Mr Grainger's coffee break plunged Grace Brothers into turmoil.
Another workplace in trouble in an era in which no-one's interests were being served.
We don't want promises! We want guarantees! We've got two things to decide - what we want and how we are going to get it.
So we tell you, keep up the picketing.
Doulson can get stuffed! Henceforth there is no point in us having meaningful discussions.
Any helpful exchange of views, then? None whatever.
Then get stuffed! I could have been a sailor Could have been a cook But all this workplace belligerence had its roots in a moment of youthful energy and optimism.
The post-war baby-boom generation were all grown up.
Could have been a clock As simple as a And the mid '60s saw them tumbling out of school and crossing into the world of work.
I could be here and now I would be, I should be But how? Keith Ryan started his working life as an apprentice plumber in St Helens, in Lancashire.
It was the transition from being a schoolboy to actually joining the adult world.
So, yeah, it was exciting.
I can actually remember, yeah, very vividly the first day.
New donkey jacket and a brand-new pair of shiny black boots, so it was obvious I was the new lad.
It was in the days when you were an apprentice, they had all sorts of initiation ceremonies.
I'm not sure whether they still do them, because equal opportunities and the health and safety workout wouldn't allow it now, but, um A favourite one were to grab the apprentice, remove his trousers and put putty round his bits.
Why? I don't know.
But it was part of the initiation ceremony.
Fortunately, it didn't happen to me, but a mate of mine was an apprentice joiner.
Did it to him and he had to shave his pubic hairs off with his chisel to get rid of the putty before he went home.
So there were all sorts of things like that.
It was a proper man's world, if you like.
22-year-old Penny Hale was also working in something of a man's world, the only woman technician on a team building a Great British techno-dream - Concorde.
I was working in an enormous hangar with draftsmen and engineering groups.
I was solving differential equations manually, working out the temperature gain of the aircraft wings.
It was exciting at the time and you felt that there was going to be a lot of investment in the country.
I mean, that's what we're very good at - technology and inventing things.
In the mid-1960s though, many of us were still actually making things.
Almost nine million of us put in a shift in manufacturing.
As an experience, it was a long way from the frolics and freedoms of the so-called "swinging '60s".
Frank Carrigan joined a workforce several-thousand strong as an apprentice in a Glasgow shipyard.
Did you want a job in the yard? Yeah, foolishly I did, yeah, yeah.
I always aspired to be a tradesman in the yard.
What sort of place was the yard when you went into it? Frightening.
The noise was horrendous.
It was dark.
It wasjust scary.
Everything was very, very large and all of that.
It made a man of you, do you think? Yeah, I hope so.
To the extent that you learned if you were straight with people, they'd be straight and fair with you.
It was quite a tough existence, but there was a camaraderie about it.
I actually lost my wage packet and they had a whip round on site because they knew I'd lost my money.
And I ended up getting slightly more than I would have done if I'd had kept my wage packet.
It was that sort of supportive environment in many respects.
In these abundant years, another wage packet was always just around the corner.
We were still in an era of full employment where government thought its main job was to make sure we all had a job.
Charles Handy was a young executive at Shell Oil in the 1960s.
The employment society was a society in which, basically, you moved from institution to institution.
You went from school to university, or some kind of training establishment into an employment organisation, public sector or private sector.
Oh, yeah, yeah.
There always seemed to be work.
You were young anyway, your life stretched ahead of you, so there were always opportunities, depending on what you wanted to do.
Ah, good morning, Terry.
Mr Maitland's a youth employment officer.
He'll fix me up, no trouble.
Well, he always has done before.
You want me to fix you up again? Well, you always have done before.
Reach into the magic top hat and produce a nice, easy, healthy job, about 30 quid a week, no special skill required? Just what I'm looking for! Yeah, me, too.
They made sure you had money and, basically, they were a social mechanism for guaranteeing that everybody had a livelihood and it was a wonderful, convenient way for the state to run society.
This is in the London Evening Standard, pages and pages and pages of jobs.
A steward/butler was required for a directors' dining room in Mayfair.
Cashier required for a group of companies in Barking, in Essex.
A film company requires a junior typist.
Unilever Ltd are looking for an estimator and production engineer.
There's an advert here headlined, "Are you 34-24-36? "Attractive model, receptionist, typist required.
"Please call Mr Stern.
" Hello.
In that buoyant late-'60s moment, when it seemed old limits on your lifestyle were breaking down, young Brits had their pick of a rich job market.
Hilarie Morgan, a nursery nurse.
Ronald Venables, a trainee chef.
Carol Johnson, a production worker in a biscuit factory.
And then there's you.
In 1967, the BBC asked 19-year-old Essex boy Lionel Took to sample life at work.
On the itinerary was some time in the Ebbw Vale Steelworks in Wales.
For a nice young man from down south it was a bit of an eye-opener.
It was something that was straight out of a Victorian industrial nightmare.
I just found it completely dangerous, and it was.
You can see from the film, they're not wearing any safety kit, no helmets, no safety jackets.
You know, they're wandering around the place in their shirt sleeves and flat caps.
They probably thought it was wussy to wear a helmet.
What did you make of the men? I found them very hard, crusty, quite bitter, really.
Working in the steel mill was a grim experience that they did for the cash.
I think it was to do with feeling kind of left out of mainstream, civilised development and so on, and that they were left to do the dirty work and people thought badly of them, despite doing the dirty work.
Imagine in my sleep and in my dreams that I climb this mountain and I would get to the top.
And as I'm going out, I want to get out.
And there's this huge barbed-wire fence that would be there.
"Get back down in that valley and stay there!" 6am and that Monday morning feeling settles like a deep depression over Iceland.
The truth was that in the grown-up world of work you could choose your job, but it was a lot harder to control your daily working life.
This is the most essential work, what we're doing.
In a modern civilisation somebody's got to do it! This wrapping machine needs an operator to stop it if a fault develops.
It's not a particularly interesting job.
What exactly is that you've just made? Shock absorber bracket.
And how long did it take you to make it? About a minute.
And then you do another one? Then, I do another one.
And another one? And another one, and another one.
You were at the mercy of the shift and schedule of industry.
Now what you do, you put four of the little boxes into one of the big boxes, see? And then you stack all the big boxes over there.
Don't you get bored? Course I get bored.
I'm going off my nut! 4-0 0-5 Well, how many years have you been making that particular shock absorber? About seven years, off and on.
Exactly the same pattern? Exactly the same.
Ticking away the moments that make up the dull day I worked for three months in a place like that.
It's like something out of Kafka.
Yeah.
Well, it's not for me, babe.
Sydney Bricknell was a young father of four kids working on the line for a company making components for car production in Shropshire.
How long does it take you to complete the job you're doing? 'About three minutes, this particular one.
' 'And then you do the same thing again every three minutes?' Yes, this is a repetitive job.
The first thing that occurs to me is you look just like James Dean, but what occurs to you when you're watching that? What were you thinking? When I look back on that, I was very reflective then and I didn't seem as though I was bothered, but it was a very mundane life, a mundane job.
Well, I clock on at half past seven and I think, "Well, I'm not a human again until I clock out at half past four.
" I put my protective clothing on, put my mask on.
I'm shut away then.
You're like being marooned in the centre of a town.
A lot of people around you, but you're alone.
We were like robots.
Yeah.
Um Well, that's it, it's like Groundhog Day.
The same thing every minute of every hour of every day, especially if you're working seven days a week, which, if you wanted to make the money, you had to work as much overtime as you could.
Even though I don't like it, I'm prepared to accept that I don't like it for the standard of living I can obtain from the job.
And then one day you find Ten years have got behind you No-one told you You don't have to be a professor of economics to realise that many things are badly run in Britain today.
Many of us might just have been working for that weekly wage packet.
But when it came to our productivity, how much we made or did day-by-day, we were slipping way behind our industrial competitors.
The way we worked was part of a corrosive cycle of economic headaches, including a shocking balance of trade crisis.
But from deepest Surrey, could this be the answer to our prayers? In 1967, a bunch of office girls, from Surbiton no less, decided that they would boost the country's balance of trade by offering to work for an extra half day without looking for any extra pay.
It just seemed a really good idea.
We just thought the whole population working half an hour for free would just fix things.
This gesture mushroomed into a campaign and, before we knew it, Britain was festooned with Union Jack posters and badges proclaiming, "I'm Backing Britain.
" And thousands did back Britain, doing their 30 minutes free for GB plc.
You started your extra half hour's duty on Monday, what has your own company to show for it? Well, the extra productivity within our organisation is of the order of 6% or 7%.
We were very young, quite insignificant, working-class girls.
We didn't expect it to take off like it did, but I am proud of that.
That just very ordinary people sometimes have a voice.
And it wasn't just ordinary people adding their voice.
In January 1968, the campaign was given an anthem.
Step up, Mr Bruce Forsyth.
I'm backing Britain Yes, I'm backing Britain We're all backing Britain today The feeling is growing So let's keep it going The good times are flowing our way Holidays in Blackpool Plenty of fun Buy a British car and look for the sun Did you enjoy that? Just to be clear, Bruce's words of wisdom were, "I'm backing Britain.
"We're all backing Britain.
"The feeling is growing, so let's keep it going.
"The good times are flowing our way.
" Didn't he do well? But not quite well enough.
Like many British innovations, the campaign briefly flowered, faded and was forgotten.
Are you doing an extra half hour, sir? No.
Never done it.
No.
Don't believe in it.
The late '60s would be remembered for many things.
A surge in productivity's not one of them.
Telling us to back Britain, end restrictive practices, work harder and everything will be all right? They must think we're stupid.
But this grim British failure to make our workplaces vibrant hubs of productivity wasn't restricted to the shop floor.
Meet the British boss class.
It was widely accepted that British management in the late '60s and early '70s was not the natural home of fresh, dynamic thinking.
The main problem to my mind is the inability of management to manage men properly.
I think part of the problem of business was that we trained our businessmen as accountants.
Accountants, as you know, don't like risk, they look backwards not forwards, they're not very good with people.
I have two problems.
First of all, that I have a lot of regular things that come up and that have to be fitted in because I'm an accountant So it was probably a disastrous preparation for the world of business.
From Europe came gentle suggestions that maybe the habitual bowler hat wearing of the British city gent reflected a certain stuffiness.
Excuse me, sir.
The West German economics minister has said that businessmen who wear bowlers tend to be rather too traditional in their business method.
Would you agree? I don't think so.
I think they've got a damned impertinence to make any suggestions that we're not as efficient as they are.
Sir.
British businessmen who wear bowler hats are What the hell's it to do with you?! Get out! Oh, dear.
Bad hat day! A rather shocking survey by Management Today magazine in 1970 showed that only about 10% of British bosses had any formal qualification at all in management.
We are always hearing about it, if not from the government, then from industry itself - the need for better management education.
The good old British tradition of muddling along and making do was no way for dynamic, modern management to power ahead.
What was needed were new ways of thinking and new ways of teaching.
Charles Handy had left Shell Oil and was invited to help start the London Business School, an attempt to infuse British management with intellectual rigour.
Approximately 20% of the appropriate homes have followed this and bought it, but you're not suggesting First, he had to steep himself in the American way of teaching business.
Businessmen can be trained.
They're not just born.
It totally dominated my thinking and we were trying to bring that experience across the Atlantic.
A business school in those days in England It meant commerce, it meant typing, it meant, you know It certainly didn't mean management.
The concept was totally alien.
Management was thought to be rather like making love.
You know, you should be able to do that.
If you can't do that, you're pathetic.
You certainly don't go on courses on love-making.
You shouldn't have to do courses on management.
Part of Charles's job at the brand spanking new business school was to a give stirring motivational introduction to new students.
Ann Tasker heard him speak when she attended the school in the early '70s.
We assembled in this lecture theatre and this man appears, who's the director of the programme, and gives you this amazing inspirational talk about all being eagles and soaring to the heights of the business world.
I want to fly like an eagle to the sea Fly like an eagle with my Business school experience was, and still is, very exciting.
I mean, it's a wonderful intellectual voyage of discovery.
It was very exciting for us all, and I noticed by the end of the first term people had adopted and started to use terms like "ratios" and "regression analysis" and "high-beta strategies".
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.
So that he has got a net profit position.
In a sense, it's kind of derived.
I suppose, it's a derived demand curve.
So it was almost like being a member of a club.
And the particular problem we're concerned with here is that of a company which is considering manufacturing Management was acquiring sharp thinking and sharp elbows.
And this was a little distressing to those comfortable with the conventional certainties of British business life.
This is part of John Betjeman's Executive.
I am a young executive No cuffs than mine are cleaner I have a slimline briefcase And I use the firm's Cortina.
In every roadside hostelry From here to Burgess Hill The maitres d'hotel all know me well And let me sign the bill.
You ask me what it is I do Well, actually, you know I'm partly a liaison man and partly PRO.
Essentially, I integrate the current export drive And basically I'm viable from ten o'clock till five.
A new breed of managers was born, but the poisonous British blend of befuddled old bosses and stubborn staff had taken its toll.
No firm negotiates with the men at work! No firm! No firm! Many of our workplaces were now dominated by discord, and labour disputes blossomed.
As shop steward, I'm calling everyone out.
Right, you're on strike.
Stay where you are.
Sit down.
Get up! Stay where you are.
Get up! Sit down! Get up! Sit down! Get up! Sit down! Shut up! In the mid 1960s, working days lost to strike action were bubbling along at the two to three million mark.
By 1970, that figure had risen to a staggering ten million.
Don't you think, CJ, it would be a more valuable exercise if Arthur played the manager and Thruxton the worker? How come? It would teach them about the "them and us" situation which bedevils British industry so tragically.
I didn't get where I am today learning about the "them and us" situation which bedevils British industry! Managing the unions and dealing with the unions dominated everything.
Well, Perrin, what's the trouble? Well, guv'nor, it's like this.
We feel we're falling behind vis a vis the workers in comparable industries.
Managers had lost control, virtually.
We want deeds not words, otherwise we're comin' out! I will not yield to threats by politically motivated scum! Ah! I don't think my members would appreciate that nomenclature.
Well, that's what they are, isn't it? Marxist scum! Reds under the beds! I'll flush 'em out! We're all coming out then! You're all sacked! Right, you bastard! In the early years of the '70s, a new Tory administration had promised to bring some order back into the workplace.
But they were faced with a generation of employees who were children of prosperous times, of years of full employment.
I don't believe that anybody in the trade union movement wins anything at all unless they're prepared to be militant.
They were no longer deferentially grateful to be in work.
They had power in the workplace and were not afraid to use it.
You'll get as much as you are prepared to go out and take.
Richard Griffiths worked at an ICI plant in Birmingham and became active in the electricians' union in the early '70s.
I've been on many a marches up and down the length and breath of this country and I've enjoyed it.
There was a lot of camaraderie and comradeship in being in there.
There was a drive forward to have better working conditions, better working rights for the individual.
They have done a lot of good for a lot of people.
This union-led drive for better and more meant your workplace could be hit by a dispute about anything from pay or conditions to closed shops, differentials or demarcation.
CHANTING Your working week might be slashed to three days and your workplace might be plunged into a dimly lit age.
Who do you think wins with these strikes, usually? Well, the strikers.
How does a strike begin? What might happen? You just get a troublemaker who decides to be different from others and he just goes on strike and everybody follows him.
So the strikers win, do they? Most times.
Do you think there's anything wrong with these strikes? No.
When confronted with union muscle, the Conservative government of Edward Heath was rattled.
My grandfather used to work here at one of the shipyards on the Clyde.
That was way back in the 1930s.
He was a riveter.
I remember when I was growing up, occasionally my grandmother would refer to the rallies that she would take all the kids to, the Red Clydesider rallies that would happen in the parks in and around Glasgow.
And it would seem that by 1972 that spirit of radicalism had come alive again.
UCS was a consortium of shipyards on the Clyde, welded together by government in a desperate attempt to rationalise an industry toiling against competition from Europe and the Far East, which had better equipment and more flexible labour.
But the plan had failed and in the early '70s, UCS faced liquidation.
What was the problem? The problem was that they intended to close the yards, basically.
They intended to reduce it substantially and it could have been the end of shipbuilding in the Upper Clyde totally.
Sammy Barr had worked in the shipyards for 25 years and as a shop steward was at the heart of the trade union reaction to this crisis.
Well, the shop stewards, we took a decision that we were going to fight to keep the shipyards on the Clyde and the next movement was to have mass meetings in each of the yards.
We'll take the vote, brothers.
For the shop stewards' recommendation could we have a show of hands? Shout "aye", brothers.
Aye! The workers in the yards though didn't down tools in protest.
They upped tools in defiance.
When the liquidators came to close the yards, they locked the gates, occupied the sites and kept on working on the orders.
Fronting the work-in was eloquent communist shop steward Jimmy Reid.
There will be no hooliganism.
There will be no vandalism.
There will be no bevvying.
The management supported us and they came together as the one movement, that we all wanted to save the shipyards on the Clyde.
We asked to give us guarantees as regards the future of the UCS workers and the UCS itself.
They even had a message of support from Lennon.
John Lennon that is.
He and Yoko sent a card with a big cash donation and a bunch of red roses.
Their message reads, "Power to the people.
"With love from John and Yoko.
" Power to the people Power to the people The campaign to save the yards from commercial annihilation gathered momentum.
Over to Martin Bell in Westminster.
And the shipyard workers did what they came to do.
They carried their campaign to the streets of London, the Houses of Parliament, even to Downing Street itself.
Power to the people, right on! Say you want a revolution We'd better get on We made it quite clear to them.
We're here to fight and keep the shipyards open.
And soon after this meeting, the harangued Mr Heath heeded their plea.
His government conjured up a rescue package for UCS.
Clydeside solidarity prevailed over commercial viability.
These are bulletins produced by shop stewards throughout the dispute to distribute to the workforce and they're full of facts and figures and, it has to be said, quite a lot of rhetoric.
But beyond that, they're promoting a much bigger philosophical idea.
They say here, "Our fight is the right to work.
" Fellas, I want to make this point.
Everybody talks about rights.
There's a basic, elementary right that's involved here.
That's our right to work.
APPLAUSE Why did you have the right to work? Well We didn't always have the right to work.
It was something we aspired to, because there could be a pay-off at the drop of a hat in the yards.
And as soon as somebody coined the phrase "the right to work", there was a resonance there for all of us.
The right to work.
Today it seems a rather quaint notion wrapped in the misty idealism of working-class unity, detached from profit and loss, business reality.
Syd Bricknell remembers the shop-floor attitude to the company's fortunes in his factory.
They never saw the big picture.
People weren't educated in whether the company needed to make a profit.
They went there and they just saw their own little world.
They'd go there, work, get paid for what they'd do, whether the company made a profit or loss.
I'm not going to say they wouldn't have been concerned about that, but they weren't aware of it.
They didn't see the big picture.
In 1972, Keith Ryan was trying to get a small building company going in North Wales.
I was ambitious and, certainly when I met my wife, she was ambitious for both of us, really.
He and his partner, Mike, were working on their first job fixing up two bungalows when the national builders' strike was called.
We'd heard about flying pickets and we thought we'd be OK.
Maybe they wouldn't spot us.
And Mike said, "Oh, I've just seen somebody on a motorbike.
" "So what?" "Let's see.
" Within an hour, two cars arrived with eight blokes in and they came across.
"All right, lads?" "Yeah, fine.
" "What are you doing?" "Just building a couple of bungalows.
" We'd taken on an apprentice by this time.
We were trying to do things right.
"Do you know there's a national builders' strike?" "We're aware of it but we've only been going five weeks on this site and we've got an apprentice and we want to keep going.
" "Well, we'd like you to join the strike.
" "Well, we'd rather keep working.
" "Well, if you don't join the strike, "we'll set fire to your cabin and we'll be back "and we'll wreck your mixer, we'll knock all your work down.
" So, sent down two lads and that was it.
And it lasted over five weeks and really that took the edge off us.
We were never the same after that.
Come on, brothers! Industrial disruption even penetrated the pinnacle of British culture.
I advise you that I am in a position to consider a favourable offer.
In the mean No! I beg your pardon, Miss Withering.
I'm sorry, Mr Bogs, but I can't let you give up like this.
I've no alternative, two weeks of this strike has finished us.
Kenneth Williams, star of many a Carry On caper, dropped this curdled little aside into his diary in 1972.
"Oh, what a scourge and a blight is the English working man.
"What a dishonest, lazy bastard.
"Only exceeded by the Welsh and the Scots.
" Dad, look! I can't believe it! They're coming back.
I had a feeling they would today.
Why today? It's the annual works outing.
Yea Oh! And in some real workplaces things were obviously going almost comically wrong.
Here's a little tale that might strike a chord.
My uncle told me that around about this period when he was working in the print room of a Glasgow newspaper, one of his workmates would come in for his shift and happily clock in every night, only to fall asleep for eight hours in the corner of the work room, where he had, conveniently, for this very purpose, installed a nice, big, comfy mattress.
The union versus management, push, pull and punch-up, had left Britain battle scarred.
The car industry seemed to sum up our plight.
Shoddy goods and bad attitudes.
Absenteeism is high here, particularly on Mondays and Fridays.
It's a general rule, fewer cars get built then and they're of poorer quality.
I don't know much about management, but you've got to work with them to believe them.
I don't think they could run anything.
The way we worked seemed to say everything about what was wrong with Britain.
And this is a copy of the Wall Street Journal from April of 1975.
In amongst all the articles detailing the comings and goings of Western capitalism is an editorial laying into the UK in the strongest terms, criticising its high spending, high inflation and high taxes.
In conclusion it says, "Goodbye, Great Britain.
"It was nice knowing you.
" This diagnosis of demise and collapse was echoed by politicians, intellectuals, and talent show hosts.
Thank you.
Well, friends, friends, it is the end of the show.
Tomorrow is the end of the year.
Let us work with all our might to see that 1975, with a gathering storm of despair ahead, will not be the end of our country.
Let us, altogether, say in 1975, both to the nation, to each other and to ourselves, for God's sake, Britain, wake up! FANFARE But for some, amidst the downfall of the nation, opportunity knocks.
The foreman's job is one of the few chances for promotion off the line.
Now bearded and bristling with authority, Syd Bricknell, once the top-paid welder, has got the foreman's job at last.
I was so overjoyed at leaving that job, it was just like starting another life, being born again.
Syd, you were evangelical there.
"I feel like I've been born again.
" What was it about that job that made you flourish, that made you so happy? It was a job with a future.
It was a progression from the job I had before.
The future opened up to me there because there were positions higher than mine that I aspired to.
Where will you end up do you think? Managing director.
You sound a wee bit cocky saying that.
Perhaps I do sound cocky.
But I'm ambitious.
I wonder when you said there, "managing director", I mean, you had the nerve to say that on camera.
Yes.
Do you think there were people higher up who thought, "Hold on a minute, laddie"? That smirk.
Yeah.
They'd say, "Well, he has not the background.
" Because most of the chief executives, they had that posh, public school talk.
And I always had a strong feeling that, why not? Yeah.
You know, if I was prepared to go the extra mile.
But they didn't seem that interested in the company about me making any further progress, for whatever reason, I don't know.
Syd never did become MD.
But from his humble start, welding parts, he did rise to be the senior foreman.
His sparky ambition and desire to get on at work and in life would have impressed someone else rising to the top of their workplace.
We're the people that in the past made Great Britain the workshop of the world.
Who can doubt that Britain can have a great future? In 1975, Margaret Thatcher was a new Tory opposition leader with a new story to tell.
Britain could be a great working nation again, if we cast off the fetters of workplace warfare.
And there was, of course, something else about Margaret Thatcher, MP.
She was a barrier-smashing, tradition-breaking, decision-making, executive woman.
Here are some facts from Britain in 1975.
Whilst the majority of women were now in work, less than 2% of them were managers.
Today, it's nearer 33%.
In the mid '70s, Kay Millward was a mother, a wife, and a very unusual person.
Good evening.
Table for two? Yes, please.
Dining in restaurants on an expense account is traditionally one of the perks enjoyed by a successful businessman, but today also by the businesswoman.
Kay Millward is frequently entertained, and entertains business clients.
This meeting is to discuss a loan of ã50,000.
I was brought up where the wife always had a meal on the table for her husband.
She always did the washing.
She always looked after him.
He never went out unless he was clean and tidy.
All he did was work, bring home the money and sit down and have his tea.
Carol.
Make a cup of tea.
It wasn't like this in the Millward household.
I've always been ambitious.
It's never been enough to stay home.
Do you like being a boss? Oh, yes.
Revel in it.
Kay used to be, well, just like a normal housewife and gradually as she got little things to do herself.
And I like to think that I gave her little jobs and helped to make her into what she's turned into now.
But hubby, Norman, wasn't always quite so comfortable with Kay's progress.
If the kids were particularly naughty, he would always say it was my fault, cos I wasn't there.
When Kay was a typist, fast cars belonged to the boss.
Today, Kay's the boss.
I did have a new car every two years and he resented that.
On the road, Kay found that business negotiations with men were peppered with incredulity.
Half of them didn't realise that I was sort of IC, you know, "in charge", and they just assumed I worked there, so If I would go all serious and try and discuss what they wanted, they just thought it was a huge joke and that I couldn't possibly be serious.
Good evening.
Tonight, we're bringing you the programme we'd intended to transmit before Christmas but couldn't because of a strike.
Ann Tasker started at Shell Oil armed with an MBA from the London Business School, and dreams of executive achievement.
It was not a dream shared by some of her male colleagues.
On day one actually, the guy who'd recruited me said, "There has been some animosity in the department "from one or two of the senior managers to having a female MBA, "so keep your head down and keep quiet.
" What did you think when he said that? You'd presumably been working your tail off for two years to get your MBA.
Yeah.
I don't know.
I just sort of thought, "OK, I'll, erm, keep my head down and stay quiet.
" Penny Hale was still working on the Concorde project, but she found the world of futuristic aerospace engineering struggling to cope with recent developments in women's ambitions.
As I stood up, I could see no women across the expanse of the warehouse apart from the ones who were secretaries.
We did go to Slough a couple of times with my boss, and he was asked why he was bringing his wife with him.
One of things that was different for me from some of my male cohorts, if you like, was you could see some of the senior managers almost socialising them into roles that they were going to occupy in the future.
I know it sounds silly, but you'd go into the bar as a working group and the senior guy would buy the first round.
And then it would be OK for the up and coming young men to buy the subsequent rounds.
If you were a woman, it was not acceptable to buy a round.
So if you tried to join in that group, they would be, "No, no, no.
It's all right, my dear.
"You keep your purse in your handbag.
" Overnight business trips with colleagues could also be a queasy experience.
If you went to a hotel, they winked and used to give me a bedroom right next to the boss, you know, and give a sort of little wink to the receptionist.
Because they didn't believe really that you were an engineer.
But discrimination could be more cutting than a nudge and a wink.
At Concorde, Penny Hale was working at a special, cut-price, lady's rate.
It was set down that women were paid 80% of men's salaries.
I was a bit annoyed, I must say, and I sat reading my newspaper and one of the managers went past and asked what I was doing.
And I said, "Well, this is my 20% of the time that I'm not paid for.
" So I began to get a bit more frustrated then.
Four men who were taken on at the same time as myself, I found, had been promoted to the next level.
And when I went to the personnel officer and asked why that might be, he said, "Well, you can't bang the table.
You can't be aggressive.
"You can't go into meetings and impose your will on other people.
" And I think that was the first time really that I realised that I was being discriminated against.
Deeply disenchanted, Penny left for a career in academic research.
In lots of British workplaces it was as if the new female lifestyle freedoms of the '60s and '70s had never happened.
In the 1960s we saw new laws on homosexuality, on marriage and divorce, and abortion.
It was all about our private lives.
In the 1970s, it was all about the workplace.
There were acts on health and safety, equal pay, and sex discrimination.
It was nothing less than a workplace revolution.
These acts were, of course, enthusiastically fought for by many working women and, more often than not, by the unions.
But perhaps they had an unforeseen, longer term effect.
They were put in place with a view to protecting the mass of employees, but I think they actually worked over time to help people focus on their own individual relationship with their employer in a way that people The legislation meant that people had to deal, almost one on one, with those issues, like their contract of employment, or their maternity leave, or their grievance procedure, or whatever.
But in the sun-kissed summer of '76, we were still in the age of mass industrial relations.
The trade unions could claim to look after the interests of millions of working people and were at the apex of their power.
In 1976, an opinion poll showed that the majority of people thought the most important man in Britain wasn't the Prime Minister.
It was Jack Jones, the leader of the Transport and General Workers' Union.
There can be no escaping the fact that our great industrialised nation simply cannot do without trade unions.
Hello, little brothers and sisters.
It's me Jack in the box Jones.
Now I was made at TUC headquarters or, as you prefer to call it, 10 Downing Street.
Union leaders worked hand in glove with the Labour government to make restless British workplaces relax.
After ten years of spiralling strife, in 1976, days lost to strikes collapsed to harmonious mid-1960s levels.
And industries in trouble were given generous infusions of public money to keep their unionised staff in work, to the fury of a small businessman from Torquay.
If they don't like making cars, why don't they get themselves another bloody job, designing cathedrals or composing violin concertos? The British Leyland concerto in four movements, all of them slow with a four-hour tea break in between.
I'll tell you why, cos they're not interested in anything except lounging about on conveyor belts stuffing themselves with my money.
The unions, it seemed, had found their place in the sun.
The years of dreadful marches had union members delighting in a decade of rising wages.
On average about 15% a year, the kind of money that could fuel aspirations.
People wanted better standards of living, better standards of prosperity.
The unions were there to support and help and make sure they got their just rewards for the job they were doing.
So, yes, it's about trade unions saying, "You deserve a bit more.
" How affluent are these people? Two out of three families have a washing machine and refrigerator.
Four out of five have a vacuum cleaner.
Nearly all have an electric iron.
But, hey, this is Britain in the 1970s.
The sun of glorious summer couldn't last.
The ominous companions of industrial peace were financial instability, spending cuts and climbing unemployment.
In 1978, the clouds lowered and our workplace woes dominated British life again.
Brawny men huddled round braziers and in that discontented winter there was more productive effort lost to industrial action than at any time since the general strike of 1926.
Through 1978 and '79, a spectacular 38 million working days were lost in the 4,500 disputes that flared up.
Amidst all this rancour, celebrated poet Philip Larkin wrote a sour little letter to his old mate Kingsley Amis.
"Up to a century ago", he said, "if you wanted more money, "you just worked harder or longer, or more cleverly.
"Now you stop work altogether.
"This is much nicer and anyone can do it.
"In fact, the lower-class bastards can no more stop going on strike now "than a laboratory rat with an electrode in its brain "can stop jumping on a switch to give itself an orgasm.
" University librarian Larkin was one very dapper, but very acidic, public sector worker.
Larkin wrote what he called a dreary little hymn.
"I want to see them starving, the so-called 'working class'.
"Their wages yearly halving, their women stewing grass.
" Resolution of the strikes resulted in double-digit pay rises.
Well, we got what we asked for, practically.
What they offered us in't first place.
A situation report after the Winter of Discontent might conclude that union power had prevailed again.
Their membership was about to peak.
30 million of us were card-carrying brothers or sisters and Britain felt like a place where we all knew where we belonged, with them or us.
I think that we are institutionalised as a nation and that the union, in being part of that nation, is in itself institutionalised.
But down on the front line, that certainty about our working lives was starting to fall apart.
They were beginning to cut these huge workforces and unemployment was rising.
From the mid '60s to 1980, two million jobs were lost in manufacturing as Great British industrial titans became remnants of another age.
There was no way that these organisations were going to continue as massive sort of entities on their own.
We were starting to work in different ways, in different jobs, entering an age in which all that was solid melted away.
It wasn't a lot of people in big organisations with jobs for life.
It's much more fragile than that.
Ground floor, perfumery, stationery and leather goods, wigs and haberdashery No story of 1970s Britain is complete without another sneaky little peek at Are You Being Served? You'll remember in 1975 there was that threat of the strike and the go-slow.
Well, in 1979 Take a look for yourself.
You're late, Mr Lucas.
I had trouble getting through the cleaners' picket line.
They were exercising their democratic right to explain their just grievances.
I said I was sympathetic but I needed a lolly.
So what happened? The leader of the picket line took out her lipstick and sent you all this message.
The days of solidarity were gone.
Miss Brahms, Mrs Slocombe, Mr Lucas, Mr Humphries were crossing their workmates' picket lines.
Grace Brothers, like Great Britain, was a changing place.
We're fed up with stoppages everywhere.
All we did was come to work and get on with the job.
Yes.
I didn't fight in the desert to support endless strikes.
I bet those Germans are glad they lost.
They'd be bankrupt by now.
Next time, through the agitated 1980s, the way we work brings freedom and satisfaction to plenty, but shame and hurt to many.