Friction Dynamics, 2001 – 2003

 

 

The highly impressive Friction Dynamics strike plaque

Former TGWU leader Bill Morris unveiled in May 2018 a plaque in Gwynedd, North Wales that commemorates one of the longest-running (*) industrial disputes in British history. 

Bill Morris at Friction Dynamics plaque unveiling

Bill Morris at the unveiling 

Fredo, which manufactured brake parts for the motoring industry, was renamed Friction Dynamics in 1997 by its new owner, American Craig Smith. With 220 workers the factory employed just slightly more than a tenth of its original workforce in 1962. 

Smith was intent on making radical changes to working conditions that included pay cuts and changes to shifts. In April 2001, Transport and General Workers’ Union members began strike action to defend their terms and conditions and picketing of the factory started. Bosses then sacked the union members, leading to a three-year dispute. In October 2002, an employment tribunal backed the 86 dismissed workers by ruling they had been unfairly dismissed but no compensation was paid — at anytime — when the company called in the receivers. The factory is today derelict. 

 

Striker Gerald Parry
Striker Gerald Parry at the plaque unveiling 

“ The idea to commemorate the strike was originally proposed by Alun Roberts,” explains striker John Davis, “who approached us saying the community believe there should be something to remember it.

“Alun had just retired as a junior school headmaster in Caernarfon when the strike began. He was active within Plaid Cymru, we worked with all the parties throughout the dispute, like everyone he was disgusted by the attitude of the owner. 

“Following Alun’s approach a committee was formed and I was surprised as we successfully set about raising funds for a commemorative plaque just how few young people even knew there had been a dispute. 

“The plaque has been placed in a spot where it cannot be missed. It has renewed the interest in the strike. People know how things have developed in the 20 years since the strike and are aware of the situation for workers with zero hours contracts, no sick pay and few permanent jobs. We predicted this – Us today, you tomorrow — when we were on strike as that was what the owner was seeking to do.

“To think we had a Labour government at the time with the biggest majority ever and they did nothing about it. They could have made some dramatic changes to workers’ rights and things would be better now for younger people.

“The plaque reminds people of the strike and all the strikers were pleased to see Bill Morris unveil it. We are currently working on developing a website that tells the whole history of the strike and lock out. It will include the support we had within the UK and internationally. “

Local people showed their support for the plaque at the unveiling in May 2018
Local people turned out in good numbers for the plaque unveiling in May 2018 

Many thanks to Robin Evans for allowing the use of all four photographs. 

John Davis was employed at Feredo and later Friction Dynamics from 1976 onwards and as the face of the strike he found it very difficult to find work. He was unemployed for five years before setting up with two colleagues a co-operative, Red Line Indoor Karting, which has now been going for over 12 years. http://www.redlineindoorkarting.co.uk

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