2002/33 David Livingstone interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 30th July 2002
David Livingstone has worked in many printing firms in Edinburgh. He has been actively involved in unions since beginning work in the printing industry and was appointed a full time union official with work including representing SOGAT at the STUC, TUC and National Executive.
000 Previously had worked in the building trade. Had done national service. Worked in cutting as Simpson Label, Shepherds, Inveresk envelope, Smith and Ritchie and Waddies.
029 Stayed with Waddies as could get time off for union work.
043 Worked as FOC at Simpson label. Was on branch committee, then STUC, TUC, National executive and then went full time.
062 Smith and Ritchie encouraged to stand for branch committee. People would be fined for breaking rules.
078 1959 strike, in hospital at time. Was never involved in any long strikes, more one day action. NGA and Scottish typographical dispute.
093 Litho was taking over. NGA didn't want to take on letterpress. 7 weeks strike. Unions amalgamating.
119 Paper joined the early 1950s
130 When on strike would picket every day. STA would be denied union benefit. Strike did not resolve anything, one day strikes.
154 Elected as branch secretary. 20 years in union.
164 Branch committee meetings.
170 FOC in Smith and Ritchies. Clerk to the chapel at Inveresk. FOC at Waddies.
178 Responsibilities of FOC.
188 Chapel meetings well attended at Waddies, time off to attend. Branch committees not well attended.
203 13 members on branch committee meetings. Members of union, numbers. Meetings at Perth.
217 Activities at meetings. Anti union laws. Closed shop, firm grip on industry.
233 Many members of union because they had to. Printing industry still loyal to unions.
242 Papermills not unionised. Printers always were printers whereas papermakers would go into other industries. In papermills would not move up until someone left.
263 SVQ's mean you could move on. Few college degrees on the shop floor.
273 Employer would get into union and let them know if they had a job going. Union was the employing agency. Could not get a job without a union card as the rest of the chapel would walk out.
285 Dispute with Murdoch. Union would get a fee for handling the colour supplements. Murdoch would not pay it.
308 Union lost Sunday wholesalers in Wapping dispute. TNT newspapers
327 Decline in industry. No grants given to Edinburgh for buying machinery in the early 1960s. Companies started moving out of town to get grants. McDonald Road had 2000 members, now none. Social club close to there.
346 Social facilities. Got tickets for Beatles for union members. Annual dance, union galas, concerts.
358 Davie King encouraged him to be active in the union.
367 Amalgamated with the Glasgow branch in 1999.
371 Head office of SOGAT was in Southend. When amalgamated with the NGA had to decide where the office would be and decided on Bedford.
383 5 employees at Head office. Never had female officer, though more than 50% were women. Had branch secretary of women's branch. Stayed in union house and would pay rent to the union.
406 Lots of houses owned by the union in England. Part time branches would operate from house. In Scotland we felt that funds should be readily available, which would not be the case with housing.
423 Village set up round mill. Mill houses treated like council tenant. If needed funds would sell houses. Closer relationship of mill with workforce, much more paternalistic. Better sick pay schemes.
437 Sick pay in printing industry, a local thing. Not big money. Hardship grants which they did not pay. With amalgamation of unions local fund was disbanded.
452 People got funeral benefit. Convalescent homes. Rottingdean and Ayr. Could apply if you were ill. Got travel, accommodation and expenses paid.
465 Dormitory rooms, no mixing. Later was more relaxed. Good places, could not send a desperately ill person there.
483 No sick pay, would be looked after. Not contagious, description of Rottingdean.
497 Social club. 1961 bought from old contemptibles. Paid 4,500 for building Ypes took members there. They had a room that they could use. 2 bars and a snooker room. Room downstairs for younger members.
518 Cheap drink and longer opening hours. Bowling club and inter works bowling. First World War Victory Cup.
536 Bowling match; chance to talk to the union representative. Used golden acre. Inter works cup 1918 – 1950 and then was revived.
553 Work negotiation, wage negotiations. Pillans and Wilson negotiations, reduction in working week. Women were against it. Men took it and women didn't.
595 Must be 20% women on branch committee, 4 seats. Marjorie Reid from Letts good organisational. Only one full time woman.
623 Women's branch separate, working in salle. Women not allowed in male orientated job. During war a lot of women readers. Technology drove women out.
662 Mailing department, many women involved in that field.
676 1959 strike at Simpson label, women picketing with a lovely summer. Managers inside working.
689 Apprentices did strike, were members of the union. Apprentices were on fixed term contracts and could be legally dismissed. Apprenticeship had a youth delegate at conference.
709 Firms would take on apprentices, pay them off. Union would limit the number of apprentices. Apprentice training committee.
727 Apprentice training committee would discipline. Closed shops worked, but arrogance. Murdoch dismissed people, he took on the unions and won.
763 Rallies during the strike at Eldorado Hall. Mill not on strike but may have closed due to lack or orders.
782 Union fees collected by the Clerk of the Chapel. Monday night was pence night where fees would be counted. Clerk would get a collection fee.
797 Letts would drench the meeting to get their own way. Numbers on the branch would reflect numbers in the chapel.
819 Firms would ask for short time. Would get laid off and get lay off pay. Would steal compositors from other firms. No loyalty in firms, people would always work overtime.
842 Elected delegations to the STUC, TUC and Labour Party.
852 Papermaking, energy prices. Priced out of the market by Fins. Papermaking industry went in cycles. Imports, pulp prices.
880 1st to break the 40 hour week. Taits wanted them to work New Years Day at quadruple time and they all did it.
901 Hours worked in mill. Would pay high price for labour to get order out.
920 Sad to see the state of the industry now. Firms going into receivership.
930 Waddies were on a 3 shift system, 300 people at work. Went onto continental system and employed lots more people. Changed production from bank cheques to mailings. Waddies did whiskey labels, but lost out after strike.
950 Waddies was the best shop that he worked in. People on his shift. They allowed him to go and do his union work.
964 60 people in the finishing. Used to run works dance at the Glenburn in Currie. A lot of people came to work in Waddies after Galloways closed. Divisions between compositors, artists and cutters.