Industry: water, steel & energy

Camsey, Granville (11 of 16). An Oral History of the Electricity Supply in the UK

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  • Type

    sound

  • Duration

    01:14:08

  • Shelf mark

    C1495/09

  • Subjects

    Electricity

  • Recording date

    2013-04-18, 2013-05-02, 2013-09-26, 2013-10-22, 2013-12-10, 2014-01-14, 2014-01-28, 2014-03-17, 2014-04-15

  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Buckinghamshire

  • Interviewees

    Camsey, Granville, 1936- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 11: Remarks on CEGB labour relations machinery: background of Lord Citrine's consultative labour relations machinery, which empowered unions to negotiate over many issues; trade union officer present at GC recruitment into CEGB; anecdote about GC mothers' distress at Jack Dawson ordering GC to join union at a pub; EPEA serving engineer members well; anecdote about Arthur Hawkins membership of the EPEA; demise of unions under Thatcher government; GC membership of power station consultative committee at Oldbury power station; structure of local, district, and national level committees; [05:00] industrial relations committees jointly held between CEGB and Area Boards; top level National Joint Industrial Council [NJIC] dealing with terms and conditions, and National Joint Advisory Council [NJAC] responsible for welfare and education; GC chairmanship of power station works committee and advisory council; GC membership of NJIC whilst at headquarters, requiring regular meetings at Electricity Council as one of CEGB delegation; skill of Electricity Council's Roger Farrance and others in dealing with difficult issues; debate over annual pay review negotiations, always in reference to government; anecdote about deals being done between lead negotiators informally in private; GC finding NJIC meetings boring and bureaucratic. [09:50] Anecdote describing endless bureaucratic nature of NJIC, site visits to investigate difficult problems, continual passing around and debating of problems, difficulty reaching decisions, advisory committees absorbing even more time. [14:20] Story about GC response to high sickness levels at Rugeley: mixing of attitudes from mine workers; anecdote about hungover workers; CEGB process for managing sick leave, allowing 3 days off without a doctor's note; GC demanding rigorous imposition of sickness rules; criticism of GC stance being referred to works committee, then referred to district level; visit to investigate issue by district committee; resolution of dispute and subsequent decline of sickness. [18:50] Remarks about dispute over use of contractors to refurbish plant over summer shut down at Rugeley: GC dispute with A-station representative over terms and conditions of contractors compared to CEGB staff. [20:30] Remarks on: limited contact with trade unionists; GC junior roles in industrial relations process until promotion to become South East Region Director of Production brought chairmanship of district level councils and contact with senior trade unionists; NJIC membership bringing GC appreciation of how Area Boards gave more generous settlements to staff than CEGB; differences between CEGB and Area Board personnel issues and culture; anecdote about CEGB and Area Board opinions of each other; momentum of ESI labour relations machinery making it difficult to change. [25:00] General remarks on trade unions in Britain: unions using state industries to establish standards for negotiations with private industries; state industries' success in advancing conditions of workers; GC view later in career that British trade unions had done badly by their membership in contrast with situation in Germany; British establishment of German industrial relations machinery after Second World War allowing unions to help shape industries, later failed attempts by Wilson and Benn to bring about similar situation; loss of British industrial competitiveness, partly due to poor performance of unions in controlling destiny of British industry; example of Arthur Scargill's failure to serve membership. [31:00] Remarks on: clarification of Walter Citrine role in shaping ESI industrial relations machinery to follow a consultative model; consultative model damaged by shape of capitalist system in UK; wisdom of selection of figures such as Citrine as leaders in postwar Britain; Citrine and history of ESI mentioned in training courses attended by GC early in career; painting of Citrine in Cockfosters education centre, based in palatial pre-nationlisation manager's office. [34:50] Remarks on visibility of industry leaders from lower down in CEGB: little room for self-aggrandisement but figures standing out; inspirational Bob Peddie; pompous and authoritarian Arthur Hawkins; pleasant and gentlemanly Glyn England; high performing regional director generals such as Jim Porteus; high reputation of research director Rothermere, influential in creation of Berkely Nuclear Laboratories to bridge gap between fundamental and applied research; [39:10] anecdote about Bob Peddie and Rothermere vying over the status of their car telephones. [40:30] Comments on GC promotion to Director of Production of South East Region: interview by CEGB Deputy Chairman, Director of Operations Gil Blackman, and director of personnel and former Fiddlers Ferry manager Derrick Harrison; delight at being back in production role; description of South East region, reputation for not being best perfuming region, mentions Magnox, AGR, oil and cloal power stations in region including Sizewell, Cliff Key, Bradwell, Isle of Grain, Kingsnorth, Littlebrook, Tilbury, Dungeness, closed stations such as Battersea, 10,000 staff, group headquarters structure based in Southwark; [46:00] old fashioned management style of GC predecessor; discontent when GC arrived; outline of duties of Director of Production, controlling budget, large capital projects underway, labour relations, visiting stations to investigate problems, trying not to interfere with local managers, mentions talking to staff at Dungeness B, maintaining good relations with local communities; [50:05] limited role connected with 2000MW direct current link under construction across channel to France, with converter station near Ashford; routine aspects such as increasing efficiency of stations; annual formal meetings with local advisory committees at nuclear power stations, problems attracting much press interest; anecdote about stealing of dummy nuclear fuel element from Bradwell power station. [56:50] Remarks on: small radioactive leak problems at nuclear power stations; attraction of wide variety of role; 1980s concern over acid rain from high chimneys at British power stations damaging Scandinavian forests; National Power building flue gas desulphurisation plants [FGD][loud noise][1:00:45] Further remarks on CEGB South East Region: description of conductor gallop problems caused by sagging transmission wires short circuiting; technically difficult use of oil cooled underground high voltage cables around London; [1:04:20] actors Sam and Zoe Wanamaker approaching CEGB for assistance in archaeology of Shakespeare's theatre; mentions CEGB industrial chaplain arranged through Lambeth Palace. [1:06:29] Remarks on CEGB reorganisation: CC predecessor Geoff Stones move to headquarters to assist in reorganisation; closure of smaller power stations in favour of fewer large stations leaving unnecessarily large regional management; CEGB decision to abolish regional structure in favour of national organisations, potentially leading to great changes to labour relations and negotiations with trade unions; looming issue of privatisation; CEGB preparation for reorganisation, discussions with GC over new role in central management; reduction in stations reducing need for regional management; [1:12:40] contemporary privatisation of British gas as one company under Dennis Rooke, possibly suggesting similar model for CEGB, a model unsuccessfully by CEGB chairman Walter Marshall; outline of post privatisation structure of ESI. [break in recording].

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