Although it is easy to recognise Cinema Action's films as departing from
usual media practice, Class Struggle: Film from the Clyde makes a feature of
its differences. We see, for example, the daily press conference held by shop
stewards during the work-in and can note the pomposity of the television crews
that descend for Harold Wilson's visit. Jimmy Airlie stresses how important it
was for shop stewards to ensure fair coverage of the occupation in the
The uniqueness of Class Struggle is about more than Cinema Action being the
only group allowed to film inside the yards. The news crews seem interested in
the yards only as backdrops for interviewing 'key players'. Cinema Action
emphasised the action of workers and shop stewards who found running the yards,
in one's opinion, "easier than working the double bottom of a ship".
Class Struggle has similarities with The Miners' Film (Cinema Action, 1975),
in that specific industrial action is put in the wider perspective of political
struggle. This balance is signified by the film's title, but the work-in was
exemplary in its form. Whereas the miners had drawn strength from the
fundamental importance of their raw material, the shipyard workers galvanised
support by the bravery and novelty of their response to closure.
The retrospective observations of the men involved in the work-in reflect the
disagreement between those who supported it as a means of protecting jobs and
those who thought it part of a general campaign against capitalism. The appeal
to management to help with the running of the yards is indicative of this
tension but the filmmakers shared Jimmy Airlie's opinion that the work-in had
politicised all those who took part.