Film ID: NEFA 22142 Video of NEFA 22142 Northern Life - Strike, Fashion Industries, Hartlepool NORTHERN LIFE: STRIKE, FASHION INDUSTRIES, HARTLEPOOL 1977 Visitor TabsDescription Tyne Tees Television Northern Life news report on a strike over pay at the Fashion Industries factory, Moreland Street, West Hartlepool. Includes footage of women workers and trades union supporters picketing outside the factory and interviews with union representatives. Peter Holland reports. This item was originally broadcast on 9 May 1977. A hired bus arrives carrying five members of staff who are not on strike and women applying for jobs at the Fashion Industries factory, Moreland Street, Hartlepool. The bus is met by a picket line of most of the striking machinists, 12 days into a strike over weekly pay. Police patrol the picket line. Many pickets are carrying GMWU placards. Women who continue to work or applicants for the strikers' jobs walk through the strikers. More than 220 of the staff have walked out over the pay dispute. A bunch of young machinists (wearing 70s platform shoes) march towards and past camera carrying union placards and singing 'We shall not be moved'. Holland talks to shop stewards about their demands. Close-up of an advert placed in a local newspaper by Fashion Industries calling for sewing machinists, pressers, cutters, passers and pleaters to replace workers who have been dismissed. It states 'excellent rates of pay'. Sacked workers and their supporters protest outside the factory warehouse. Supporters come from trades councils all over the county. The local branch secretary of the women's trade council, Olga Meene, explains why the women have taken strike action and details steps in the negotiations with 'difficult' management. In response, they have called on all trades unionists in Durham County to support the workers at Fashion Industries. Reporter piece to camera about the business, which was established in Hartlepool 8 years ago and makes clothes for Marks and Spencers and mail order firms. The management won't speak to Holland but he understands that 16 people have got through the picket line to apply for vacancies. Anyone approaching the factory meets with a noisy reception. Context Northern Life was a regional news programme produced by Tyne Tees Television from 1976 until 1992. The show aired on weekday evenings. The reporter, Peter Holland, features on many of the Northern Life broadcasts, as well as on the news programme Today at Six, the precursor to Northern Life. Some of the other stories covered by Holland include Cleveland Castles and an interview with rock and roll star Tommy Steele, lead singer of The Steelmen. The 70’s was an era of much change for women workers. The Sex Discrimination Act 1975, and the Employment Protection Act promoted equality of opportunity between men and women in education, training and harassment at work and perhaps the moment when the trade unions also recognised the rights of women. This news report was produced in 1977, a time of great economic difficulty in Britain. Inflation was in double-digits for the fourth year in a row, and the Labour government under James Callaghan was struggling to balance the economy. In March of 1977, the government revealed that inflation had pushed prices up by nearly 70% in three years. Despite this, Callaghan’s government survived a vote of no confidence, but only by making a deal with the Liberal party. In the same year the British Steel Corporation closed the Hartlepool Steel Works, leading to a loss of 1500 jobs. The women at the Fashion Industries Factory, Moreland Street, West Hartlepool had begun strike action on the 28th of April in response to a wage dispute about differing rates for a range of jobs, which left them with fluctuating weekly wages. The workers called on other unions in County Durham to support their strike action. More than 220 women (called 'girls' by the male presenter and a women union representative alike) walked out and set up picket lines. The factory responded by advertising in local newspapers for cutters, pressers and pleaters to replace the striking workers. The factory had been running for 8 years prior to the strike and manufactured clothes for Marks and Spencer’s as well as mail order firms. The Fashion Industries factory in Hartlepool is no longer running, but the street does still contain industry, such as a transport firm and a manufacturing and engineering company. The factory was near to the Hartlepool docks, which were the main source of income for much of the town’s history. Originally used only for fishing, Hartlepool’s docks became famous for their ship building industry, including William Gray and Company, supplying the navy during the First and Second World Wars. Gray’s finally closed in 1961 with the last ship constructed, the Blanchland. During World War One, Hartlepool became the first area on British soil to be attacked by German warships, and during the Second World War the area was bombed by German planes. The docks had also been used for the exporting of coal, but following a massive decline, the last coal cargo departed Hartlepool in 1971, six years before this news item was produced. But what was the fashion of the day that these women were engaged in making? Look carefully at the film and you will see these striking women were also models for 1977 fashion themselves, stylishly wearing flares and wonderful platform shoes. 1970’s fashion began with the mini skirt, bell-bottoms and the hippie look from the late 1960s, but platform shoes, which often had soles two to four inches thick, were worn with wide-legged, flared jeans and trousers and became the perfect combination and a fashion mainstay for both sexes throughout most of the decade. This trend left an indelible image of the decade commemorated in popular culture. David Bowie, an icon of glam rock in the 1970s, famously wore platform shoes while performing as his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust. But it was also a style immortalised in the 1977 film, Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta (released in 1978 in the UK), which cemented the "disco look", complete with three-piece suits for men. On trend yes, but shoes with sky-high platforms, date back to at least the 15th century and more recently had been in fashion in both the 1930s and the 60s. Tyne Tees TV gave people an idea of what was going on in their local area. Regional news was particularly important as it gave viewers the chance to hear from local voices on matters that could directly affect them, something that national news often neglects. Even today, there is still a widespread belief that the national news is too London-centric, giving regional news a vital role in championing local issues.