mark: Yes; for a start we could really use these social amenities for the trade-union movement. I think it’s very important that the wives be included in the social activities that go with the trade union. Otherwise we all might as well get divorced. This place has marvellous amenities, but when we come as a union organization we get pushed to the bottom of the list. If we do book a room, say for an evening of entertainment, then wives come along; but it’s just for the evening—nothing else is laid on for them. And of course there are a lot of women workers from our place. The total would come to six hundred—but you don’t see them in here often. There’s still the old-fashioned idea that there should be no women in the billiards room. I think it would be worth trying to change the club, so it would be more use to the members.
trevor: Well Mark, I don’t see it the way you do, because I put this place more or less in the same category as the Conservative Club. You are never going to break into this place as far as trade unionism is concerned. You only have to look around the club now to see that not many active trade unionists come here. The reason’s obvious. It’s been established since the days of the Founder. It’s not our place. The only ones that come here leave the factory on a Friday night and come to discuss the wicked strikers down at the plant and things like that. Scrutinize the list of committee members and you will find that they are all dyed-in-the-wool Founder’s men, dedicated and loyal.
mark: Well, it’s true that we have little control over it; things are done under the auspices of the management. The Secretary is a full-time employee of the management and so is the Deputy Secretary. But we do provide some money, and that gives us just a little bit of influence. We have collections in the factory to arrange outings from the club for the retired employees. In general the people connected with the club don’t go too far against us, as they wouldn’t like the repercussions among the members, if they did. But basically we have no control over how the damn thing is run.
trevor: Only a certain type uses the club; they come to play a game of snooker. I only come here on the odd occasion, on a nice day like this. But it’s not like a place where you could say ‘this is my own local’.
mark: As soon as the likes of us three walk in we are already numbered. Very rarely do you get any conversation here. If the three of us sat at a table here, within an hour someone would be sitting nearby talking just loud enough for us to hear about somebody who is a friend of ours, some activist. If you ever got into a conversation you could give better than them but they don’t want to have it out. It’s depressing. If anyone came here from the outside and stopped a while they would say: ‘Well where is this militant place that I’ve heard about?’. It’s as near to a Tory club as one can get.
pete: Actually it’s more so than the Conservative one down the road because you get many workers going into that. It’s across the road from the Workers’ Club so you get many good trade unionists going in there just as a convenience.
trevor: The management use this club to their advantage. They own it and if they wanted they could sell it. They use this as a favour they do us, particularly within the works with notices on the notice boards about what the club is doing. And the committee is more or less rigged with these old blokes. In their magazine they give you all the old bullshit about the Christmas Party and photos of the kids. You are given the impression that the management are doing all this for us. I remember some years back when I came with my daughter to the garden party and sports day. They had the Founder’s wife here. This old cow was standing up there in all her regalia presenting prizes to the winners and it looked like a throw-back to the 18th century. It was unbelievable—but it still goes on today.