Sunday, 3 October 2010
In 1970 30,000 clothing workers in Leeds, as well as parts of Yorkshire and the North East, went on unofficial strike for five weeks for a shilling (twelve pence in pre-decimal currency) pay rise and equal pay.
This 1974 Play For Today telling of the story was written by Colin Welland and filmed in black and white giving the play a stark quality that makes it reminiscent of German films of the 1930s, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, or even like Coronation Street meeting Eraserhead.
Conditions in the factories are revealed to have not evolved much since those of the 19th century, with one worker describing having to wipe 'rat shit' off her bench in the morning before starting at her machine.
The strike ultimately fails in its ends because the shop stewards undermine the workers they represent by reaching a deal with 'the masters' to go back to work for lower offer and the promise of talks.