By Anna Pollert
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Extra resources for Girls, Wives, Factory Lives
But again (as we see in Chapter 8) male oppression gains the upper hand in a system of discipline and control which is mediated largely by patriarchal, sexual relations. Factory politics are also sexual politics. le-created and maleperpetuated roles of femininity. It is largely a 'friendly' battle, part of the 'human-relations' school of 'permissive' management, but it is set on the men's and the employers' terms. For the women, the use of femininity as a shop-floor weapon is pernicious since it diverts attention from the need to organise collectively.
This posed a serious threat not only to the employers but also to the formal union machinery, which, while increasingly centralised since 1945, seemed to get pulled along by a 'runaway' shop-stewards movement. One of the main 'symptoms' was 'wage drift' - a growing gap between nationally negotiated basic pay and locally negotiated actual earnings, including bonuses and incentive rates. The latter, or 'supplementary', portion of the wage packet was becoming more important than the basic rate: not only had it grown proportionately from 19 per cent of the total in 1948 to 26 per cent by 1959,8 but (worse) it was leading to 'leap-frogging' between local plants and factories, and even pushing up the floor of national wage claims in industries where there was not necessarily much shop-floor strength.
We then span out to look at the firm's parent company, Imperial Tobacco Ltd, the Tobacco Division of the vast Imperial Group Ltd, and locate Churchmans within the broad corporate strategy of expansion, diversification, concentration and merger. Of particular significance was the general employers' strategy of tightening control over wages and work-place relations during the late 1960s and early 1970s through the policy of productivity deals, job evaluation and measured day work. e part apd· parcel of factory life from the mid1960s onwards.