Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

The Success and Failings of UK Work-Ins and Sit-Ins in the 1970s: Briant Colour Printing and Imperial Typewriters

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2016), 37, (1), 113–139.

Abstract

This article examines two important workplace occupations, at Briant Colour Printing (BCP) in London and at Imperial Typewriters in Hull. These were staged during the wave of industrial militancy in the first half of the 1970s by workers to challenge the closure of their workplaces and were part of a wider movement of occupations initiated by the work-in at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders (1971–72). Rather than linking the fate of each of these two actions immediately to the strategy adopted by the workers in occupation, the analysis, based on first-hand accounts of the occupiers, contrasts the very different context of the BCP occupation in 1972 to that of Imperial Typewriters in 1975. Neither the struggle to find an alternative owner, that ultimately both sought, nor the attempt at establishing a workers’ co-operative, adopted initially by Imperial workers, proved successful. Yet, to the participants, both occupations made sense as acts of resistance to the commodified nature of labour under capitalism.

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Details

Author details

Tuckman, Alan

Knudsen, Herman