The death this week of former PA editor-in-chief David Chipp at the age of 81 brings back mixed memories of the 1979 regional newspaper strike.
I say mixed memories, because the details are now dim, but I seem to recall that with stunning tactical timing the NUJ managed to bring us out in the run-up to Christmas, understandably a time when one’s family wasn’t going to be too happy coping on strike pay. I do remember that it was very, very cold.
Of course, we were royally fucked over. Management managed to get a variety of pamphlets, duplicated newsletters and eventually newspapers onto the streets which at least looked the part, even if the content was lacking to the discerning eye. And for that we had to thank our friends in the NGA and SOGAT, who blithely walked past the burning braziers and through the picket lines. Solidarity, Brothers!
The resulting rift between journalists and printers never healed, leading to some ‘lively’ inter-departmental football matches down the years and a reluctance on our part to support them when they were finally locked out of our newspapers in the mid-80s.
And David Chipp’s role in all this? Wire room operators (and more about those utter twats at a later date) were the only approved means of contact with the outside world. The Press Association’s telegraph men decided that they would only handle copy produced by the editor-in-chief for the duration of the strike. Chipp therefore worked day and night for seven weeks, subbing PA’s entire output of news, sports and picture captions.
I bear him no ill will. He was a professional doing his job.
Which is more than I can say about those bastard inkies.