For the first time since the country's 1926 General Strike, Britain is facing the threat of national trade union action against the government.
LV ZOOM & PAN Industrial area
SV Rail/underground sign
GV Station & trains arrive/depart (5 shots)
SV Buses pass
GV & SV 1926 General Strike (5 shots)
CUs & SVs Street interviews
Following are the views of various ordinary people interviewed about the strike:
MAN: "I'm an AUEW (note - Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers) member. We've been called out by the executive council, and I shall come out."
REPORTER: "Are you a member of any union?"
ANOTHER MAN: "No, I'm not at the moment, because I'm an apprentice. But when I've finished my apprenticeship, I'll join."
REPORTER: "Do you think it will achieve anything?"
SAME MAN: "No, but it makes you feel better."
WOMAN: "I can't see what a one-day strike's going to do. It's against the government, but not against, you know, the actual factory or the employee."
REPORTER: "So you think it's a waste of time."
WOMEN: "Yes, I do."
REPORTER: "Can you tell me on May Day whether you're likely to be striking at all?"
ANOTHER WOMAN: "No, I don't really know. I don't think so."
REPORTER: "Do you support the idea of an action of this kind against the government?"
ANOTHER WOMAN: "Yes, I do."
REPORTER: "Do you think it will work? Do you think it will achieve anything?"
ANOTHER WOMEN: "I don't know. It depends, I suppose."
REPORTER: "Do you want to go on strike yourself?"
MAN: "Not myself....it's with the people, you know -- with the working man. If they want to go, I'll go. I can't decide myself. But I have to, you know, for the union."
REPORTER: "But do you feel, yourself, that this is going to achieve anything? Do you think it will make the government change its policies?"
MAN: "I don't think the government will change any policy, but still you have to try it."
Initials ESP/0220 ESP/0235
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: For the first time since the country's 1926 General Strike, Britain is facing the threat of national trade union action against the government.
The country's Trades Union Congress, which represents about half of Britain's 25,000,000-strong work force, has called for a national day of action against the Government's pay freeze on May Day.
It hasn't specified the from of action it wants, but is leaving this to individual trade unions. This means that there'll be a variety of responses.
Some union are advising strike action, among them the transport workers, engineering, train drivers and printing unions. Their action will severely reduce public transport, stop London's underground service, prevent the publication of national newspapers, and close many large industrial and engineering firms.
Other unions are taking a less militant line. The mineworkers' and boilermakers' unions are telling members to support milder protests, but only to strike if they want to.
And the electrician's and Post Office workers' unions are telling their members not to strike at all.
This means there'll be a mixed response on the day and varying effects of the action over the country. In London, the lack of public transport, combined with strike action, will close many firms. Elsewhere in the country public transport is used less, so it will be easier for companies not directly affected by strikes to keep going.
Internationally, the dispute will affect flights to and form Britain. Engineering and maintenance shop stewards employed by British Airways -- which combines BEA and BOAC -- are going on strike, and they say outbound flights will almost certainly be halted.
Public reaction to the strike, like that of the unions, is mixed. Many people don't agree with the action, but will nevertheless take part. Others are just taking the chance to have a day off, some don't really know what it's all about, and many will just work as usual.
SYNOPSIS: British factories will be hit hard on May Day by a one-day campaign of action against the Government's pay freeze. The country's Trades Union Congress organised the campaign, but did not specify what action member unions should take. As a result, there's a wide divergence of opinion about the best means of protest. The engineering and transport unions are supporting strikes, the Post Office workers' and electricians' unions oppose them and are telling their members to go to work.
But because London underground and British Rail train drivers are striking many people may not be able to get to work in the capital. Normally busy stations will grind to a halt and London commuters will be hardest hit. In other parts of Britain, a far higher percentage of people use their cars to travel. In London, a switch from trains onto already overcrowded roads would inevitably mean long delays for many people if everyone tried to get to work. And, in London's case, it looks as if other public transport will be hit almost as hard as trains.
Busmen are being advised to strike by their union, and they may be joined by some taximen. This will mean that public transport will virtually close down for the day in the city. Firms not affected by strikes may find themselves hard hit because of lack of transport.
In 1926, when Britain last faced national union action, things were far more serious. The General Strike of that year lasted nine days. This time not only is it a none-day affair, but there's far less unity about the actions.