FIFTY years ago, 1500 workers – most of them women – walked out of Better Sound Recordings (BSR) in protest over management’s refusal to recognise the union.

The famous turntable factory, which controlled 87 percent of the market, had refused to listen to the employees’ demands and what followed was a bitter and angry dispute.

There was a series of mass demonstrations - at one, workers were addressed by Judith Hart, Paymaster-General and MP for Lanark, who urged BSR to “move into the twentieth century. They are electrical record players, not clockwork ones.”

In another, 40 protesters were arrested after a flour bomb battle with police.

The Evening Times reported that day: “Most of those arrested were women. A number have been charged with breach of the peace and obstruction.

“The first shock arrests came only hours before peace talks were due to begin with management, union officials and the Commission on Industrial Relations taking part. About 200 women marched on the police station where the strikers were being held and demanded their release.”

The report continued: “The strikers had been taken to the station after a sit down outside the factory gates and a flour bomb battle with the police.

“Many of the policemen still had flour on their tunics after emerging from the struggle.”

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Eventually, after 14 weeks, the East Kilbride factory was given union recognition in November 1969.

Five decades on, it remains a landmark moment in Scottish trades union history – and one of the first times women workers found a collective voice and successfully stood up to an authoritarian management.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the BSR strike of autumn1969, East Kilbride Heritage Group is holding an open event at the town’s Central Library on Wednesday (November 27) from 11am.

As well as a display of photographs and newspaper articles from the dispute, there will be a short talk by one of the authors of a paper written for the Scottish Labour History Society journal, which chronicles the BSR dispute, followed by a Q&A session.

Organiser John Boyle, one of the authors of the paper, explains: “Images from the factory gate, showing conflict and disorder became the hallmarks of the strike.

“The anger and bitterness that accompanied this dispute should not be ignored and hopefully lessons were learnt.

“Very quickly, the women strikers developed an independent voice. One said, ‘I see this strike as being about the right of ordinary working people to combine and become involved in collective bargaining to combat what we would call almost despotism.’”

Earlier this year researchers appealed for former BSR employees to come forward and recall their experiences and their memories of the 14-week dispute.

Several former workers got involved and their valuable insights into the dispute formed part of the paper written by John and Alan McKinlay, Professor of HRM at Newcastle University Business School; and Dr Bill Knox, Honorary Senior Lecturer in the School of History, University of St Andrews.

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“We are hoping more workers will come along and share their stories,” says John.

“There is a plan to take material from this event and build an educational element that can be shared with interested groups.

“The display will remain in the East Kilbride Central Library for several days after the event for anyone who cannot make it along to enjoy at their leisure.”

Did you work at BSR? Do you remember the dispute? Share your stories and photos by emailing or write to Ann Fotheringham, Features, Evening Times, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow G2 3QB.