As I mentioned recently it was good to get back to work but I still missed the buzz that goes with proper union activity.
I don’t mean going on strike.
That is the ultimate weapon the worker has and, like a nuclear bomb, you know that if you utilise it then the ultimate effect could be almost as bad for you as for the management.
No, I meant I was missing the meetings, the debate, the planning – and of course the camaraderie with like-minded people.
Although working with the am dram team was part compensation there were only two ways of getting the zing into my life.
I will leave the very personal side of life alone for now, there were too many ups and downs at this stage.
Chapel meetings were few and far between unless there was an in-house matter to hand. Branch meetings, however, were held every month and provided an opportunity to meet other journalists than just those in the company you worked for.
Although I hadn’t been a regular attendee at the branch meetings when I first arrived down south I did make up for it in the months following the lockout.
I found the other people attending these meetings to be quite a mixed bag.
There were those who didn’t really believe in journalists acting in a militant style, seeing themselves more as professional people than working class.
Then there were the ones who wanted to get on with their jobs but wanted decent pay and conditions for themselves.
Then there was me (and a handful of others) eager to see the right pay and conditions for everyone, and prepared to fight the corner for juniors, for instance, even if it did not change my own pay and conditions.
After all it was not that long since I had been a junior myself.
With this mix it did mean that there were plenty of lively debates and I soon found myself deeply involved in union work. I had no ideas about jumping straight in to a major role in the branch but was delighted that as the annual meeting, when officials and committee members were elected I found myself on the branch committee.
Not only on the committee but also appointed as one of the branch delegates to the NUJ annual general meeting which, in April 1974, was being held in Wexford, Republic of Ireland.
It was quite an honour to be selected, I think the branch was entitled to four or five delegates based on membership, and could be an opportunity for me to demonstrate my abilities as part of the working people’s movement.
Roll on April.