Rab Farquhar


2007.48.1 Rab Farquhar interviewed in his own home in Edinburgh by Sarah Bromage on 11/4/2007

Rab Farquhar started work as a guillotine cutter at Smith and Ritchie, Edinburgh in 1954 and transferred to work in the litho department. He later moved to work at T and A Constables and then Morrison and Gibbs in Edinburgh. He was actively involved in union activities and was Father of the Chapel in most firms that he worked in. He remembers the SOGAT Graphics Club in Edinburgh.

0000 Born in Edinburgh 26/11/1939. Went to Bellvue Secondary. Finished school at 15
0045 Wanted to be a compositor as this was the trade to get into. Everybody realised that it was a good career
0119 Job at Smith and Ritchie as a guillotine cutter and an opportunity came up to get into the litho. 7 year apprenticeship, did 6 years.
0210 Went into plate making side. Went to night school and day school. Went to Heriot Watt and Edinburgh Art College.
0330 Would work Mon to Sat with 38 hour week. First union to have 5 day week.
0356 Smith and Ritchie closed shop. First wage 2.25 and would pay union dues on Friday and it would go to union on a Monday
0436 The union looked after you very well. Enjoyed being on committees. Was FOC in every shop. Unions were in command SOGAT, NGA, SLADE.
0530 Mainly wages and conditions that were interested in. Encouraged by men on shop floor to go to union meetings.
0610 FOC was the spokesman for the workforce. Would go to management, would support people if they were disciplined.
0700 Milk given to people on bronzing machines because of dust.
0734 At Smith and Ritchie 1956 – 1971. Was there during printing strike and as an apprentice carried on working. Only did certain things and told the boys on the picket lines what was going on.
0841 Management trying to run things. 3 apprentices could work on certain things
0950 Left Smith and Ritchie because it was simply label work and wanted more experience. Went to T and A Constables for 3 years and then Morrison and Gibbs 1973 – 1981. Was made redundant.
1101 M and G was Federated Father which was FOC for all chapels. Would chair meetings.
1140 Got time off work to be FOC. Depended on what company you worked for how good they were to you.
1230 No other strikes apart from 1959 apart from Wapping Strike, would go into Glasgow. NGA had caravan at top of hill that police turned right over. Police were brutal. Wapping was big and after that the unions did not have the power.
1413 Newspapers were very strong when he was a young man. No strikes just overtime bans.
1447 Chapel meetings if something controversial turned up. Branch meeting once a month (NGA). Meetings well attended. Meetings in Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
1616 President of Branch. The Secretary of the branch would go into printing shops. Branch Secretaries that he has worked with.
1713 NGA amalgamated with SGA. Had to amalgamate with the way that things were going, gave strength. Had full time officers.
1757 Edinburgh union amalgamated with Glasgow. Now joined AMICUS and TGW.
1840 Social aspects of the printing industry. Bowling clubs.
1952 Golf outings, Burns nights, outings with people from work and friends.
2036 Lots of print companies in Edinburgh.
2051 A lot of firms printed and did not book bind. Hunter and Foulis did not bind. Gravure printing came into Smith and Ritchie in 1970s. Moved out to Livingston and still survive now.
2100 Asked about football team and Mr Farquhar offers to show film.


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