Observing the 1980s
Robertson, David (Part 10 of 19)
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Robertson, David, (speaker, male)
Manson, Hugo, (speaker, male)
Part 10: Background to 1979 Strike. Details re difficult working routine, Norwegian conditions, pay, time off. Recollection of Tony Benn, British Government’s need for income from oil, Power of American banks. Dissatisfaction of workers with trade union backgrounds, ex-shipyard workers etc. Other (non-union) workers did not react to situation – not experienced in how to survive in industrialised society. Unable to get them on side. Details re own role in running 13-week strike involving 7-9000 workers. Background to situation. Reference to Aberdeen Trades Council. Strike doomed from the start. Explains difference between traditional attitude of strikers and North Sea workers who had to settle (quickly). Necessary to strike offshore, get into (oil companies’) territory. Unsatisfactory nature of Hook-Up Agreement – which ran out at first production of oil, after which no union representation on rig. Problem being outside 12-mile limit. Sense of union-Government compliance, bad effect on frontline workers. Strike signalled end of trade union involvement in North Sea. Details. Attitude of Boilermakers’ Society. Policy made between union headquarters and 10 Downing Street. Never considered not being a trade unionist or at advancement in trade union movement, was a foot soldier. Had no wages during strike. Recalls support for wife, children. Reference Margaret Thatcher. Comparison of strike with normal (onshore) strikes. Impossibility of picketing a distant oil rig. No visible strike base. Strike failed miserably to have any effect. Details re picketing of road to airport/heliport. Reaction of people of Aberdeen to strike. Media coverage minimal. Details.
Interviewed for Lives in the Oil Industry