‘Hundreds of strikes’ error
In one respect I’m a bit surprised by Roger Watts’ posthumous vilification of Derek Robinson (Letters 15 Nov). Watts has written many letters about Brexit, all of which urge people to reconsider what he believes to be a mistaken decision. Robinson was sacked for doing precisely the same – advising his colleagues, in a jointly-written letter from union representatives – to reconsider their decision to acquiesce in a management plan. Years later, a television documentary showed some of those colleagues repenting at their enforced leisure in the Black Horse, Northfield, as they said that they ‘should have backed Derek’. Maybe Watts will live to see Walsall Brexiteers crying in their beer as they admit they should have backed Roger.
More generally, one need turn to nothing more demanding than the Wikipedia entry for Robinson to find that the idea that he was particularly militant is open to question and that he was the subject of some pretty dodgy behaviour by the misnamed ‘security’ services. A documentary made by Ken Loach – but never aired for reasons about which I couldn’t possibly speculate – noted that Robinson was in fact instrumental in preventing unofficial strikes.
One assertion by Watts is manifest nonsense – that Robinson led ‘hundreds’ of strikes in 1978-9. Robinson was sacked in November 1979. To have led ‘hundreds’ – ie: At least 200 strikes in 22 or 23 months would have required a strike every three or four days, including Saturdays, Sundays and holidays – plainly impossible.
Alan T Harrison