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Mining Review 1/1: Five Day Week? (1947)


Main image of Mining Review 1/1: Five Day Week? (1947)
Mining Review 1st Year No. 1: Five Day Week?
September 1947
35mm, black and white, 3 mins
Production CompanyCrown Film Unit
SponsorNational Coal Board
ProducerJohn Taylor

Sitting down for a pint after work, a group of miners debate the merits of a five-day working week.

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Britain's mines were nationalised on 1 January 1947, though it quickly became apparent that this made no appreciable difference to the working conditions of the ordinary miner. As a result, there were frequent disagreements between the National Union of Mineworkers and the National Coal Board regarding working hours.

This item from the very first Mining Review compilation would have been made and shown in the early part of the year. It depicts a group of miners sitting in a pub after hours, debating the merits of a five day working week, and reaching universal agreement that this was not only desirable for the health of the miners, but it would probably improve absenteeism and even productivity, provided it was paralleled with the introduction of modern equipment (such as the Meco-Moore cutter loader, demonstrated in another film on the same programme).

The delivery is more than a little stilted, but this paradoxically adds to the impression of realism: these are clearly genuine miners, not actors. The filmmakers have also added touches of atmosphere such as the game of skittles, or a miner's rendition of the popular song 'The Big Strong Man'.

Given that this film seems to firmly endorse the NUM line, it is intriguing to note that it was sponsored by the National Coal Board. But by capitulating to the demand for a five-day week - indeed, encouraging the idea via films like this - the NCB could stave off more drastic action, and a formal agreement was duly concluded with the NUM in May 1947.

Michael Brooke

*This film is included in the BFI DVD compilation 'Portrait of a Miner: The National Coal Board Collection Volume 1'.

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete item (2:49)
Complete newsreel (8:10)
Mining Review 1/1: Cutter Loader (1947)
Mining Review 1/1: The Miner's Song (1947)
Mining Review 1/2: Welsh Debate (1947)
Taylor, John (1914-1992)
Crown Film Unit
Mining Review: 1st Year (1947-48)