Many thanks to Mike Wilson, from Yorkshire in the UK, for sending in this story.
The N.G.A. Chapel Rules book contained the ‘rules’ by which men who worked in print shops had to abide.
East Yorkshire Printers Ltd. at Driffield, to whom I returned after three years serving the country in the R.A.F., observed the requirements of the rule, but usually the men operating the printing machines, the Linotypes, or who worked on the stone, used their common sense and made the rules work in their favour whenever it was possible.
There were disputes in the trade, but more often than not they didn’t follow any upheavals in small country weekly newspaper offices. Fleet Street was the place for such activities and we often suffered from their actions.
I was in Germany with the R.A.F. in 1959 when there was a national strike in the industry, so I have no recollections about that at all.
The Chapel was made up of all full members and apprentices in their last two years of apprenticeship, and they had to pay a weekly subscription. At that time, unions were very strong and membership and payment was obligatory. The Chapel held meetings every six months. No-one really liked these meetings, only the men who were very union minded. They seemed content to pander to dissent while the rest of us just wanted to get on with the job and take our pay home to our wives and families.
Father of the Chapel
The Father of the Chapel was the only person who was allowed to discuss matters with the management, provided he was accompanied by two members of the committee.
Every new piece of equipment, every different procedure, every protest had to be discussed with management, with the very obvious intention of gaining higher wages, shorter hours or longer tea breaks.
There were times when the F.O.C. argued with management that there was insufficient time to carry out an extra task, but he would take more time to argue when he – and we – could have done the job with no extra effort at all.
I must admit that during my working life, I felt more restricted by the union than that they were working for my benefit.