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Interview with Era Francis re. her work in Smith's Crisps, Abertawe / Swansea

Era left school at 15 (1948) and after working in a laundry, she started in Smiths’ Crisps in 1951/2. She describes the departments in the factory and how everything worked to whistles. She wore a scarf over her hair. Her job was packing bags with crisps. She had to ask permission to leave machine. When hand packing fingers became sore because the crisps could be sharp. She used Nu-skin to put on sores. She worked there for 5-6 years. The smell of Smiths crisps. Those working upstairs in the kitchen had to wear clogs because the floor was slippery with oil. They cleaned the machines in her dept. every night. Rotation of work within dept. Bags of salt and the salt room. Radio and singing. Perk of buying crisps cheaper. They used glue to stick the packets together. Targets and getting bonuses. Some awful swearing there – particularly the older women. She was scared of them. When she got married she had a paid fortnight’s leave. Talks about the Empire theatre. She had to give her wages to her mother until 21 – rules. She left when she got married (1956) – the travelling was difficult. A lot of pushing and shoving to get on buses. Later she worked in Woolworth’s for 20 years.

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