Sunday, 13 September 2015

Snapshot From a Picket Line

I was going through some old things last night - cuttings, photos, little keepsakes - and I came across this from my days as a PCS Shop Steward in the early to mid 00s. I'm the one on the right

And yeah I know, 'early to mid 00s' - it looks like the bloomin' 1930s doesn't it? But that's a mixture of poor photo quality, the fact that every strike I was ever on seemed to occur in the middle of a freezing, miserable winter and because, of course, of my dress sense; yes that really is a flying jacket and a Soviet furry hat I'm wearing. I could say that I believed you had to take ownership of the stereotype, but I actually wore that shit on a regular basis back then!

The picture comes from a time when I was a PCS rep for the Jobcentre outside of Liverpool I was working in from around 2000 to 2005. I can't really remember when exactly this particular strike took place or what precisely it was for (and though the banners we're holding proclaim it's 'the right to be safe at work', I don't really recall a strike for security screens or a stronger security presence)

The reason for my memory lapse it two-fold; one, the photo has come away from the cutting it was from and two, to be honest - and without wishing to blow my own trumpet here - at the time our office was ranked one of the most militant in the region and we would, under my stewardship, regularly come out on strikes that were not 'national' - though we did of course come out on all of those too. In short, I stood on an awful lot of picket lines in those five years.

The other two guys with me, Steve (centre) and John (on the left) were great friends, in fact I've only recently lost touch regrettably with John. Looking at this photo now I can feel my feet going cold, recall the constant stamping up and down on the ice packed floor and of seeing the foggy clouds our breath made whenever we spoke, be it to try and convince colleagues not to cross our line or to share a joke to lighten our obviously miserable moods.

Anyone whose ever manned a picket line will know exactly what I mean. Quite a timely pick with the TUC congress this week.


  1. Nice one. If the Tories get their way the picket line will be a thing remembered only in history books. Cool hat.

    1. Thanks, it was a look that got comments shall we say! But I tell you, that picture just reminds me how bloody cold the winters of the early 00s were. I used to get the train in every day so you really needed to wear something that kept you warm - especially when up at sparrow's cough just to get the train in to a picket I can tell you