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Yvonne Bradley. Voices from the Factory Floor

Morris Motors 1967-2006

Interviewee: VSW063 Yvonne Bradley

Date: 29/08/14

Interviewee: Susan Roberts on behalf of Women's Archive of Wales

Yvonne left school at 14 (1963). She went to Morris Motors in 1967, welding silencers (ha'penny for each one). Met her husband there. Reported bullies to the office. Refused to be union rep or forewoman because not confident of writing skills. But other skills – suggesting ways of improving plugs and machine doors. Managers etc took advantage because she couldn't put her ideas on paper. Unfair practice – women losing jobs because on maternity leave. She had her son in 1971 but went back part-time (for 5 years) – then full-time then redundant, then on a temporary contract. Attitude to factory girls – she learned to swear. Women better workers than men. Men more militant. Heavy work on the ‘seats' – arthritis today. Damage to ears, tinnitus. Gas visor and spats etc for welding. Gas explosions – burning hair. Caught arm in a conveyor belt. Paying union fees in toilets, before the union was established - it was a closed shop. Altogether she worked there 40 years. Initiation ceremony for new boys – ‘tickling' them. If anyone got married - covered in mess. Strikes. The workers had the power. Got 25% off a new car – but couldn't afford it! Practical jokes. She was very militant. Decorating machines at Xmas and lots of booze. She was in the shooting team. Darts nights and Miss Morris Motors competition. Finished there in 2006.

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Interview, Yvonne Bradley. Voices from the...

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Yvonne was born in Burry Port. Her father was invalided at a young age after having a bad accident and therefore couldn’t work much. He had worked for a period of time at the tin works in Llanelli. Yvonne’s mother didn’t go out to work. Yvonne was one of five children, the middle child, and describes herself as ‘the boss’.

She went to Burry Port Primary School and then on to Glan-y-mor School. She was fourteen years old when she left school. She had to leave because her father wasn’t working and says  she was allowed to leave because her parents weren’t working.

00.01.34: She said, ‘So I left when I was fourteen. I went to work in Lakefield Laundry because nobody else would take me.’

She stayed at Lakefield for a year then went on to work in a shop for a few years. She started in Morris Motors in 1967 both as a part-time and full-time worker until she finished work.  Before she got the job in the laundry she had tried to get work in the Optical but was told that she was too young. She was told the same by Morris Motors. Sixteen was the age that girls could start in a factory then (fifteen if somebody had special needs.)

Yvonne was glad to get out of school. She said,

00.02.45: ‘I didn’t like the work, I didn’t like the teachers, loved the pupils because I was the boss.’

She went to the laundry to ask for a job. They asked her how old she was. She was too young to work in the factory part so had to go and work where they take the clothes in. When she first went to fetch the clothes in she was told that the clothes were from a butcher’s shop – but they weren’t. They were from the morgue, and had bits of flesh on them. She cried her eyes out. One man called Peter who she later worked with at Morris Motors was on the vans. He was a very handsome man and she was crying on his shoulder. He had a squeaky little voice. She told him that she didn’t like it there so they moved her to work on  the door and so she was on the front desk for a while.

The wage was one pound and something a day. (This might have been a week) She went to work in a shop where she earned three pounds a week. She got this job because her mother knew the woman who owned the shop. When she went to the factory she started on three pound something an hour. She worked on a piece work basis.

She chose to go to Morris Motors to look for a job because her sister had worked there, and other family members worked there. It was her uncle who had got her the job. She did have to have an interview but thinks that this was merely a formality but Yvonne describes the old woman (the Personnel Officer) there as a ‘bitch’. There was a man working with this Personnel Officer who was quite nice.

00.05.39: ‘She was a right sergeant major.’

00.05.48: Yvonne said, ‘I’d rather work for men, and I’d rather work with men… It’s not that they’d help you because men wouldn’t help you. You were doing the work with  them. But they were afraid. Especially me, I was a bit of a character in work. ‘

Yvonne’s dream would have been to be a hairdresser. She used to do people’s hair when she was a youngster to earn cigarettes. She couldn’t afford to train to be a hairdresser. She would have had to train in a college but she had to go out and earn money. She was a bit upset when she realised that this wasn’t going to be possible. She had no choice but to go  into factory work.

00.07.34: ‘Factories – because that’s all there was and the money was there.’

The money was good compared to anything else, for example, shop work, and they gave workers holidays. She never had a holiday when she worked in the shop. She would work seven days a week in the shop, and only have a Tuesday afternoon off. On Sundays she would have to wash the floors. The woman of the shop would make her dinner and she would have to sit in the shop eating dinner on her own. It was a baker’s shop in Burry Port.  Yvonne’s mother had worked for the woman’s mother in the past.

00.08.36: ‘It was me and the old lady.’

Yvonne can remember her first day at Morris Motors. She was frightened to death. There were so many different departments – soldering, car heaters – and new workers didn’t know where they were going to go. When Yvonne started there she was supposed to go into the ‘school’ but instead she was trained as a gas welder by one of the foremen. He told her she was good and that she should get on the job. This meant that she could earn money on a  piece work basis.

After a few days at the factory, she met her future husband there. She told one of the girls that she fancied one of the men and she arranged for him to come over and ask her for a date, but she’d told the wrong person, and it was her future husband who came over to ask her. She went out with him and stuck with him ever since, although they did split up a couple of times. Most of the girls met their partners there, as they were all socialising together in the club, which was in the canteen at the time. She used to go to the club despite the fact that she was only seventeen, although she wasn’t supposed to drink.

She was welding silencers at the factory and received about a ha’penny per silencer. She would have a little book and note how many she had done, and how much she money she would have.

00.12.14: ‘You had to do so much before you hit your piece work level, and then your piece work started. ’

Yvonne was happy to be working in the factory.

00.12.30: ‘Working the factory was hard work but we had some fun. And you used to get your breaks. ‘

Yvonne would never have breaks when she worked in the shop, where she would get the bread down in the morning, serve all day and clean up in the evening.

Yvonne enjoyed the company in the factory, although she said that there were bullies there. Yvonne herself didn’t get bullied and re-iterated that she ‘was the boss’. By ‘bullying’ Yvonne meant that some people wanted to show their authority over others, or show that they were better than other people.

00.13.54: ‘Like my mother taught me there’s nobody better than you, and nobody above you. You’re all equal.’

If Yvonne saw bullying taking place, such as telling other workers that they weren’t allowed to do certain things or claiming certain jobs as theirs, she would put a stop to it immediately. Yvonne said, ‘I’ve always been very unionised… very militant. I don’t like somebody being rude to them. I’d be the one to tell them. I was always in the office. I was always there. If something went wrong, some of my friends will tell you, I’d go to the office for them, because they would be afraid to talk.’

Yvonne was asked to be shop steward, but wasn’t confident about her writing skills. She says that talking is her forte. She needs to have help with writing tasks such as writing a letter. She was asked to become a forewoman in the factory. She refused because she felt she didn’t have the necessary writing skills, although she offered to show somebody else how to do the jobs but somebody else would have to do the writing. Yvonne felt frustrated because becoming a forewoman would have enabled her to earn more money.

She had found school work difficult and said that nobody took any notice in those days. Yvonne tells a story about her father who had glasses like ‘bottle bottoms’. He couldn’t read or write. Yvonne took him to an optician years later to discover that the problem was he was illiterate.

00.18.10:

When Yvonne was at school, if she refused or could not do something, she would be sent to sit outside.

‘I learnt more coming out of school than I did in school.’

Yvonne suspects that the problem might have been dyslexia. When she had to write bills in the shop she would have difficulties. Nevertheless, when she was at Morris Motors she demonstrated that she had other skills. 00.19.21: ‘I could pick up on most jobs. If they put me on a job I could do it within a couple of minutes when somebody else, I’m not bragging, but I used to see things you know. ‘

‘I used to have good ideas, because if I’d see something now like, say they were using  like, for instance, a plug by here now, and they had to take this plug away and it would cost them a fortune, because you had to stop the job. And I told them why don’t you put it on pipes, air pipes because there air things, get a spare one, and then get two what-you-calls so that you can put this one on. I explained to them what to do. The next thing I had forty pound I think for it. Big deal. I saved them millions. And that’s what they done, and that’s how it worked. ’

‘It was the same with one of the doors. The doors were jamming on one of the presses. He couldn’t get them fixed .. for love or money. So I had an idea. Put a band on it because it wouldn’t come back. So what I did, I was putting bands on them, tying the ends, so that when the gate would open, the elastic would pull it back. That was another one of my ideas.’

‘I couldn’t write it [the ideas] on paper .. if you said something to somebody, they would put it in and they would get money for it... That happened to one of the other boys, because I had told him what to do. I wasn’t putting the idea in myself, but he did. And he went and told somebody else. And they done it, but it’s all about not being able to put it down on paper. Because word of mouth is no good. You tell a foreman, they’d go and tell somebody else, because that’s what they used to do. The engineer would come,  and that was their idea according to them. So it was really maddening. ’

Question: Were they quite willing to accept your ideas … being a woman?

00.21.54 : ‘I’m a bossy bitch, and I am, so if they didn’t listen to them I’d make them listen, you know, I’d really lay into them. … They had to [accept] it then, or I’d have them by the short and curlies. And that was literal. ‘

When Yvonne went to work at the factory, her cousins and her uncles were already working there. Her sister had just finished working there to have a baby. Yvonne talks of the unfairness of a woman losing her ‘service’ due to having babies before maternity leave was introduced. Yvonne had her son in 1971. She went back to work there a year later but had to go back on a part-time basis. Ashe worked part-time for five years. The factory used to lay part-timers off during slack periods. She was made full time again, but was then made redundant because she was one of the ones who were last-in, even though she had worked there longer than many of the other workers.

There was one woman who was a single mother. The father wouldn’t admit his paternity and therefore did not contribute to the upbringing of the child. She was kept on because of her circumstances, but Yvonne thinks that this was unfair in a way, because the same rule didn’t apply to her as the other women who were laid off. The factory was trying to hide this, and kept her job, and she was there forty years later.

00.24.06: Yvonne said,

‘Good for her, but it wasn’t very nice for us. Because we had fathers for our children. But we still had to have the money. ‘

Yvonne thinks if you’ve got a rule it’s got to apply to everybody.

Yvonne talks about other people’s attitudes about what women working in factories were like.

‘That we weren’t nice people, because we used to swear in the factory. Well, if you didn’t swear, you weren’t part of the factory. And that was an everyday thing. If you were in the factory and somebody told you … you’d go ‘eff off’, you know. It was an occurring thing because when I went home once and said something in the house, and my mother said, “Don’t bring that language home here,” because they never swore. “

Swearing was something she learnt in the factory, as she hadn’t heard it before then, but once she went to the factory, she heard it all the time.

00.25.33: ‘I was comical. They used to say, “You can get away with it.” Nobody else could, because I used to say it in such a comical way, I suppose. … If my sisters had come home and said that there would have been holy hell.‘

00.26.14: ‘We didn’t know many people outside the factory because all of us were working in the factory, all my friends were working there at this time.’

When she socialised, she socialised with the ‘workers’. There were approximately two thousand girls working there when Yvonne worked there, and very few men. Yvonne thinks that the women were better workers than the men, even though it was heavy work. They did start employing more men, but the factory went downhill after that, because the men were more militant as well.

00.27.12: ‘Men wouldn’t accept some of the conditions we were working under.’

The work on the ‘seats’ was particularly heavy. She would be lifting forty pound seats, and throwing them around as if they were nothing. Yvonne says suffers today as a consequence as she has arthritis. She says that she has had many accidents which she never claimed compensation for, such as banging her leg or her arm against something, but today she can feel them (in particular when she was working on the seats.)

When she was working on the seats, she would make a complete seat from start to finish. She would make the frame by joining all the posts from the press shop, and weld them all. Sometimes there would be fifteen to twenty welds in a seat. Post-welding she would ‘chuck it’ to another person who would put the springs on, then the mattresses would be put on them. Forty to fifty seats would be made in an hour. They did have a few men working on that line but it was mostly women.

When Yvonne first started working at Morris Motors she would catch the bus to work, or if she’d missed it she would get the manager to take her in. He lived in Burry Port so she used to run up to his house and ask for a lift. When he would ask if she’d missed the bus again, she would tell him a pack of lies. The girls in the factory would all tease her that she was carrying on with him. She would go down to the factory floor and tell the forewoman that she had come in with Mr Reed and she was to be clocked in for half past seven even though she might not have come in until eight o’clock.

00.30.10: ‘I was cheeky then… I wasn’t shy and I think that that helped [working in the factory].’

Initially she used to start work at seven o’clock. This changed to half past seven. It was a service bus but the factory subsidised their travel to work. One of her male colleagues dragged her onto the bus one evening after work and she ended up in Trimsaran instead of Burry Port.

00.31.12: ‘He was wicked, and a handsome boy. I would have gone anywhere with him.’

00.31.31: Everybody knew everybody else’s business… I didn’t mind it because I didn’t have anything to hide. If somebody’s got anything to hide, don’t say nothing…. I wear everything on my sleeve.’

There was quite a lot of ‘carrying on’ going on there, people getting pregnant and putting ‘them down the toilet.’

There were many girls from Burry Port working there, as well as Trimsaran, Pontyberem, Pontyates, some from Gorseinon, Ammanford.

‘It was very noisy, you had to shout. I think that’s why Gaynor [her friend) shouts today. If you didn’t shout nobody would here you anyway. .. You could talk but you had to shout to talk. That’s why most people have got claims in today.’

Yvonne put a claim in ten years ago and was successful. Yvonne had problems with her ears and the union had told her it was operable, so she thought she would go for an operation. But she was then told by the ‘General’ that she had a damaged ear due to noise inhalation and there was nothing they could do for her. She gets terrible tinnitus as a result and can’t talk without seeing their face. She lip reads a lot, especially when she goes out in a gang. Girls in the factory would lip read while they were working. They would have somebody plugging next to them, opening the silencers ready for them to be welded, but had no protection for their ears.

(For the welding) Yvonne wore long green overalls, aprons, gauntlets, and a gas visor (for the gas welding) and spats on their feet. They had to buy their own gloves but they got this money back in their pay packet. This was the management’s way of stopping workers from wasting them.

00.36.10

The work was dangerous, according to Yvonne.

‘You didn’t think it at the time but it was, because one of the girls burnt her hair off, because we had a few explosions there with the gas because it was bottled at the time, but then they put it on mains, so that it was flowing to everybody. What happened was, I suppose it was a new thing, and it blew back. Somebody went to light a lamp and they must have had an air pocket in there, it blew back to this other girl. Because I had, well I was expecting my boy at the time, they had to jump over conveyors to get me, because I was in the middle. I hadn’t even heard it, so they jumped over the conveyors to get me. By the time they got this one, her hair had all gone. I shouldn’t laugh I know, but she loved her bloody hair. She had a load of lacquer on it.’

She didn’t claim for this accident, but did claim when she caught her arm in a conveyor, and received one hundred pounds. They had been complaining about this conveyor for a long time. There was a stand on this conveyor which was taking the spares, and they had asked them to weld it on, but were told it wasn’t possible. As the spare silencers were going on this stand, Yvonne’s arm had gone underneath and another silencer had gone and jammed underneath, and come down on her arm. Her arm was dragged down by the conveyor and the silencer and nobody could stop it. By the time that help had arrived she had passed out. She was black and blue but her arm didn’t break.

00.38.35: ‘I’m a tough old bird.’

When they went to carry her out they had a stretcher. They went to get the stretcher off the wall, put Yvonne on it and when they went to pick it up, the stretcher part was still on the floor. They were only holding the handles because the material had rotted.

00.39.04: ‘That’s how safety conscious they were – they weren’t even checking the equipment…. So the two boys who were picking me up ... were arguing about which side they were going to pick me up – who was going to have my legs, and who was going to have my tits. And there was a big argument between them. By the time I came round they were still arguing. It was so funny.’

The union in the factory was the Transport and General Workers. When Yvonne first started there, she used to pay for her membership down in the toilets because they didn’t recognise the union. This was in 1967. But after the union was established it had to be a closed shop. Yvonne says there was a bit of conflict at that time. The management knew about the shop steward collecting subs in the toilets, but didn’t say anything. There was only one ‘big’ manager there at the time, and then there were foremen, one superintendant who was over the factory – so in effect there weren’t that many managers there.

There were foremen and forewomen. Yvonne had 3 forewomen over her and opportunities did exist for girls who wanted to go on to do this. Yvonne says that if she could have done the paperwork she would be the boss there by now.

She didn’t find the work monotonous because she had fun doing it.

00.41.45: ’ I used to take pride in my work, and the quicker I could go and do it perfect, the better I felt… and I could earn more money – until they stopped the piece work.’

Yvonne would try and help some of the girls who had difficulties with the work – if they were ‘slacking’ or if they couldn’t do it. She actually trained many people there including her mother-in-law. Her mother was a gas welder who had gone there to work before her but the gas welding was coming to an end so Yvonne trained her to C02 weld. She did get extra money when she made an application for it, but used to forget to do this quite often because she was having so much fun doing it. She was working as well as training them.

00.42.52: ‘They had their money’s worth out of me…. They’ve had a good forty years out of me.’

The management side was an aspect of the factory that grew over the years. There was one big manager, then one for each section. There was an understudy or an undermanager. By the time she finished there, there were team leaders, and line leaders and line feeders. Yvonne thinks this was a stupid idea, and was a Japanese idea which was supposed to involve these people jumping on the line when work was needed to be done. But this didn’t happen and they took the management roles too seriously. Yvonne thinks that this system may have worked in Japan but not here.

Yvonne could have gone on to so special skills in welding but she was quite happy doing the work she was doing and says at the end of the day they were all doing the same job anyway. Some of the boys could have gone on to do coded welding, although some of the boys who came there to do coded welding ended up doing ordinary jobs.

There were apprentices there for tool setting, electricians, fitters. They did have female electricians there. That’s not something that would have appealed to Yvonne, because she was quite happy doing what she was doing. After the welding finished, she went on to do soldering. She enjoyed welding the most because she was good at it.

The men and women got on well – half of them were married to one another anyway. Yvonne talks about an initiation ceremony she conducted for new boys coming in. They would be told to go and see Yvonne for an ‘initiation parade’. When they came up to her she would tell me to bend over, and she would give them a little ‘tickle’.

00.47.18: She would say, ‘You’re all right boy, you can go.’

They would be leaving there with red faces. ‘I would have been done today. But fair play, I never touched them, it was only a little tease. I would never put my hand on their little woollies – which is what people thought I was doing mind. Because I had one chap, he was a big rugby player, and he was scared stiff of me. He would run round the factory, rather than stand by me. ’

00.48.02: ‘You’d have a hammering if you were getting married, put you in a pallet, put all stuff over you, cover you with flour, eggs, curry powder, jam, put condoms on you. Oh Iesu, you’d be in a mess.’

This would be done to the girls and for the boys. Sometimes they would put a ball and chain on the men.

Yvonne thinks she was paid around three pounds when she started but was put on piece work. This usually happened after you had done the six weeks training. They would put in for pay rises every year, and if they didn’t get them they would go out on strike.

There would be strikes if it was too hot there. They would give them salt tablets to take at one time but if they didn’t give them anything they would walk out. They would go and see the boys, or the shop steward, tell them their point of view and then he would say, ‘we’ll have to go.’ They would all walk out, get the management down to see them, talk about it and see how the situation was the following day.

00.49.57: ‘We had the power. The workers had the say in them days, not like today. And I think a lot of it is because the youngsters have let go because the youngsters were too afraid to lose their jobs, which is fair enough because there’s no jobs to go to today is there? I feel sorry because they’re letting the work rule them, where we didn’t. We ruled the work. And we worked hard for it so they were gaining as well as us. So, it was pretty good. ’

When Yvonne first started working she would give her mother money for her keep. She wouldn’t give her mother her whole packet, unlike other girls. She would never do this with her mother or her husband, neither would she ask her mother for any money back if for example she had spent all her money, and didn’t have enough for bus fare.

00.51.13: ‘If I didn’t have my own bus fare it was my own fault, and I would have to be penalised. I would get to work somehow mind, even if it was thumbing a lift.’

There would be trips from the factory to Gorseinon or Swansea, organised by one of the girls (not the works). It was the workers as well who would organise a Christmas party.

00.51.56: ‘We used to take booze in to work, we’d hide it all year, and then we’d have a party on the last day. The foremen would try and stop it mind but by the end of it they joined in. We were having a party at nine o’ clock in the morning. We used to have some fun, we did, we worked hard and we played hard. ‘

There were perks, such as getting silencers at a cheaper rate, as well as cars for 25% cheaper. ‘The trouble is you couldn’t afford it…. If I couldn’t afford bus fare I’m damned sure I couldn’t afford a car.’

Yvonne would spend her money on other things like stockings, and cigarettes. Most of the  girls smoked. They used to smoke on the job back then. The bosses didn’t mind. Even the foreman would walk around with a fag in his mouth.

Yvonne thinks that some but not all, of the bosses were fair. She liked Mr Reid. She was cheeky to the bosses.

00.54.20: ‘I wouldn’t let them get away with anything… I got on good with them.’

As well as the temperature, there were disputes about the work and the working conditions. Also, when the workers found out that another company doing the same work was getting double the wages, there would be trouble. They would discover this because something, like a payslip, would come in a pallet from Oxford or Longford (which was the same company), and they would read it and find out. The management would try and say that the cost of living was higher in those places, and that’s why the workers were paid more, but Yvonne says it wasn’t double. They would then go out on strike. They also used to fight for more holidays, because they didn’t get many holidays at the time.

Some of the girls who were promoted to being forewomen would forget where they had come from, and forget that they had been on the shop floor.

00.56.43: ‘Some of them were quite, “Get on and do it type of thing, or I’ll report you”. So some of the girls didn’t get on with them after. I got on with them all, I couldn’t have cared a damn what they done – but that’s me.”

Yvonne concedes that their orders were coming from above, which isn’t always easy. Clocking in and clocking out was mandatory, and workers needed a pass to go in and out. Even though they would only have half an hour for lunch, they sometimes went down to the pub to have a glass or beer or lager.

‘We’d come back then, and be merrier, start up again and have a fag. It was pretty easy going. Get caught at Christmas time then, and I’d have to jump over the fence to get back in. ‘

Yvonne describes the humour in the factory.

00.58.40: ‘Good banter .. Some couldn’t take it mind. You know, you’d have some crying. Oh get on with it. ‘

There would be a lot of practical jokes played. Somebody once welded Yvonne’s pliers to the table. Some girls were put on conveyors, and Yvonne’s friend was put to sit on a water fountain. Yvonne was put in a cage, and when she complained that she wanted to go to the toilet she was given a bucket.

‘We used to have good banter – it made your day. And they still had their work out. ’

During the winter, the factory would get too cold. They changed the heating system four times during the time that Yvonne worked there. First of all, they had gas heaters on the ceiling. Then they put in a central heating system that didn’t work. They were spending money ‘hand over fist’ doing things like this.

There was no canteen there when Yvonne first started there. They used to sit on little boxes. They would keep their overall, shield and tools in them too, because there were no lockers. That is where they would sit down for their breaks. Yvonne goes on to say there was a canteen outside the factory but by the time someone would have walked up there the lunch break would be over.

They did at one time, play music for the workers. When Yvonne first started there, they played music to the workers for two hours a day. It was stopped but re-instated again at one point only to be stopped again. It was claimed that it was interfering with the work. The rules had started changing.

01.01.28: ‘They started getting bitchy about things… to show who the boss was… I used to tell them, if you can do this job, I’ll do it after you.’

When the work went from being paid for piece work, to a flat rate some workers found it hard. Yvonne said that some of the workers used to ‘flog’. They would claim for more work than they had done. If they had done fifty pieces they would book in for seventy five. The other part of the factory who were the ‘goody goodies’ and didn’t do this found it easier with the change because they weren’t actually ‘flogging.’

Yvonne’s husband was packing glass wool, which was a dangerous job because it can get into your lungs. Yvonne was also working with it because she had to take the work from them to do the welding, and she would be covered in it. So in her husband’s section they ‘sold’ the piece work rate for a few hundred pounds, whereas Yvonne was still working with it.

Yvonne says they had to go through the union to sort anything out.

00.04.10: ‘The union were the bosses at that time. The union was strong, very strong at that time, but I think it was the union that told the management, and told you as well mind.. I went on the union and I was told, don’t make too much fuss, which I didn’t want to do. Like I told you I was very unionised. I was very militant at that time then.’

Yvonne says that she doesn’t like the idea of people taking advantage of other people. Her father couldn’t work, and she might have been teased in the past because she couldn’t have certain things.

00.05.33: ‘And I thought, I bloody will have it.’

Yvonne and her husband used to go out with other couples who had met at Morris Motors, and they all used to go out to the Morris Motors Club in a gang.

There used to be quarrels in work. This was usually about the work, about people doing over time. Over-time was a contentious issue because some people were offered more over-time than others. Yvonne worked five days a week, and occasionally Saturday work was available. Later on, work became available on a Sunday. When she first started there she would have a break in the morning and for lunch. She can’t remember an afternoon break. She used to have a cup of tea and a cigarette on the job anyway.

Yvonne used to go on holiday with people from work, and still does. First of all, they used to go to Butlins. Then they started going to Spain. She is still friends with them after thirty or forty years.

00.08.58: ‘You’re more like family. You’re more like family than your own family.’

They used to decorate the machines in the factory Christmas time but this had to stop with the introduction of Health and Safety regulations. They would decorate with little bells and streamers. They also used to make their own decorations out of copper. On the last working day before Christmas they would stop work around half past eight, and start drinking at nine o’clock. The foreman would come round and complain that they couldn’t do this but then ask for a drink. The work for this day would have been beforehand and booked in.

Initially, the Social Club was in the canteen and this is where they held the dances and discos. They used to arrange a trip to the pantomime for the children of the workers. They also used to arrange something for the Old Age. Going to the pub was a good way of getting to know people who weren’t on your section.

There were also sports teams there – Yvonne was a member of the shooting team. They used to practice down in the TA’s place in Llanelli. There were also darts nights, and It’s a Knock Out competitions held in the fields in Felinfoel. There were also beauty pageants held there. There used to be a Miss Llanelli and a Miss Morris Motors in Llanelli carnival. The factory used to do Christmas carnival lorries as well, and was a very ‘social’ place. The youngsters who work in the factory now don’t go to the club.

Yvonne enjoyed working at the factory.

01.14.05: ‘I did enjoy it. I enjoyed the company. The work was heavy, like I say, but you got on and done it. And certain jobs I’d enjoy, but when I finished up I was doing heavy work. I was doing big radiators, so if I hadn’t finished, it would have finished me.’

Yvonne started there in 1967, and worked there until 1971. She went back in 1972/3 on a part-time basis for five years. She then went back full time. She was then made redundant. She then went back full time and worked another five years, as a temporary worker. She tried to fight against being on a temporary contract. She eventually finished there in 2006. She had an accident before she finished. She fell and hurt her leg and was carried out on a stretcher. She then finished, and had her redundancy, although they were unwilling to give her this. (She was full time by this time.) They were afraid not to give it to her because she told them she would take them to court. They wouldn’t have been able to stop it anyway, because she’d put in for it.

Yvonne remembers that Terry Griffiths’ snooker victory was announced over the tannoy, because his wife worked at the factory. She also remembers Japanese visitors coming round to watch them working. One of them picked up one of the red hot solders and burnt his hand!

Yvonne sums up her time at the factory.

01.21.00: ‘Good. I really enjoyed my work there. I enjoyed my time there, I enjoyed my friends there, everything. I enjoyed the management sometimes mind, because like I say I had good banter with some of them.’

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