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My working life commenced on Jan 3rd 1940, when I was 15, by Iris Crawford


My working life commenced on Jan 3rd 1940, when I was 15. I was educated at Nottm [Nottingham] Girls' High School and curtailed my education when war cancelled my father's contract with Notts County Cricket Club and I did not want to be a burden to him. I obtained work as clerk at Nottm Trustee Savings Bank, then only city-wide and a non-profit making establishment; there were 34 branches in this county, with young staffs. The bank was allowed, I think, 5 staff with 'Reserved Occupations', having a large H.O [Head Office] staff and a minimum legal need of 2 at branches. I was one of 5 girls taken on initially and learnt my business fast! I immediately became a member of the Bank Officers' Guild, later to become the National Union of Bank Employees, all through the war years I was on the Nottm City Union branch committee with other bank employees, only about six of us, and I also served on the area committee in later years.

Twice I fought for our rights. When the first printed salary scales were supplied to staff, I multiplied my salary by 12, finding the annual total was 10 (!!) short, taking this up with the actuary, our boss, he refused to make this right for all of us involved and I obtained the support of the BO Guild or NUBE, gaining a correction.

I married during my un-broken service in 1953, as did several of my female colleagues. A while afterwards these girls all received a letter telling us we were now placed on the 'temporary staff' since this removed the necessity of the banks paying into the superannuation fund for us. The bank stated they foresaw all these women leaving to produce families! There was included a legal agreement, with instructions, for us to sign. I was the only one not to sign this agreement because my colleagues were afraid not to do so. Our London HO union took up the case, warning me I was pin-pointed and could be victimised. We reached court action, before the bank's trustees and managers gave way and we were re-instated as permanent before court. My Branch Secy [Secretary] wrote me a congratulatory letter, thanking me for my courage and saying that I had behaved in a manner for which many a man would have been proud! This was a very peculiar compliment to be paid to a young woman with strong equal opportunities beliefs! So you see, we still had a long way to go.

I left the bank in Sept 1957. During the war years I did firewatching duties for the Bank at the local cinema, I did telephone work for the Rescue Squads, noting incidents of enemy damage and assembling the squads. I also worked in the YMCA canteen in Nottingham which served servicemen using the LNER [The London and North Eastern Railway] station.

In June 1972 I joined the staff of Nottm City Housing Department and, of course, N.A.L.G.O. I did 9 years as Welfare Secretary for Nottm City Branch, later I then became their President for a year - I retired aged 65 in 1989. Since then I have been a member of the City Retired Members, attending the annual N.P.C conference for many years as my Union's Branch Representative.

I have struck twice in my life - once for Bank salaries, once for Local Government - and I would do it all again!