In the face of so many present-day problems, it’s all too easy to become wistful for a lost golden era of nationalised industry that brought secure jobs and forged strong communities. The low-paid jobs in call centres and distribution sheds, most located in bigger cities, that eventually arrived to replace the noise and filth of the pits were cleaner and safer, but they lacked the solidarity and support networks. Soon they, too, may disappear.
It is, of course, a lament for the vanished days of coal and steel jobs in South Wales.
But an interesting question, one to which I on’t know the answer. Were those jobs, by today’s standards, well paid? Are today’s call centre jobs, byt the standards of those days, badly paid?
Sure, obviously, I know, those jobs were relatively well paid at the time. One that sticks in the mind was that miners, mid-70s, were getting 200% of median wage. This was, as far as I can see, £50 a week for manual workers. OK, double that for miners and steel workers. Why not, we’re just guessing anyway.
Upgrade that for inflation. £800 a week from inflation only. £1,100 a week as the labour value of it.
If that’s correct then they would still be regarded as well paid jobs. But I think I might be overcooking those 1975 wage levels. So, anyone able to actually fin what wages were, in nominal terms, back then?