THURSDAY BACKTRACK: Music and news from 60 years ago - week ending 6 January 1962
At #4 to begin 1962 is Pat Boone's 'Johnny Will':
Giles cartoon for this week: the Post Office industrial dispute
The background to this industrial dispute is the expansion of the British economy in the 1950s. The nation was heavily in debt and struggling with a balance of payments deficit. It was essential to boost exports but at the same time the public wanted more (and/or better) housing and consumer goods; this meant there was a competition for labour, made harder by the postwar shortage of manpower (which led to the drive to attract Commonwealth immigration), so wages were rising faster than productivity. The Government tried to negotiate the conflicting demands with a prices and incomes policy.
Britain was keen to modernise and the Electricity Act of 1947 took over over 500 local authority and commercial electricity producers. 'The newly nationalised electricity industry made a huge effort to build up Britain's electrical system. building dozens of power stations and encouraging people to use more electricity in their workplaces and homes,' says this British Library blog; and as the country electrified, it generated a boom in consumer electrical goods - TVs even more than washing machines! To hold down prices and rein in consumer spending the Government not only imposed a variable 'purchase tax' on luxury goods such as TVs - 50% at this time! - but also a combination of minimum down payments and maximum credit periods (see p. 30 here.)
As to the incomes side of policy, the Government had imposed what it called a 'pay pause' affecting public sector workers including teachers, as a 'breathing space for productivity to catch up'and in the hope that it would set an example to the private sector also. The pay freeze invited conflict over the established use of third-party arbitration between employers and unions, as the Chancellor Selwyn Lloyd noted in his secret memorandum to Cabinet in August 1961.
In response to governmental interference with the established negotiating mechanisms, the Union of Post Office Workers (UPW) led by Ron Smith began a work-to-rule on 1 January 1962 and called it off on 1 February.
Separately, the Post Office Engineers Union, (POEU) representing engineering staff (mostly in telecommunications including the public telephone system) started a work-to-rule on 20 January 1962 and called it off on 11 March. Prior to the 'pay pause' that union had gone to the Civil Service Arbitration Tribunal, who as future Prime Minister Harold Wilson told Parliament'were threatened by the Government representatives and told what they had to do. Nevertheless, they awarded 7½ per cent. Within minutes the Postmaster-General was put up to say that the 5 per cent. would be paid, but that the other 2½ per cent. awarded by the tribunal would be withheld until some uncertain date in the future and without retrospection.'
31 December; 'Ireland's first national television station, Telefís Éireann (later RTÉ), began broadcasting. A speech by Irish President Éamon de Valera opened the new era.'
1 January: 'Western Samoa (now called Samoa) became independent from New Zealand. The two fautua (advisers), Malietoa Tanumafili II and Tupua Tamasese Mea'ole were named as the two heads of state.'
'The People's Revolutionary Party was founded as a Marxist–Leninist political party in South Vietnam, and its leaders receiving instruction directly from the Lao Dong Party of North Vietnam.'
'The Beatles auditioned unsuccessfully for Decca Records with John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and, at that time, drummer Pete Best.'
'Illinois becomes the first U.S. State to decriminalize homosexual activity.'
3 January: 'A spokesman for Pope John XXIII revealed that Cuban leader Fidel Castro and several other officials had received a decree of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church in 1961 under two sections of canon law, for impeding bishops in their work and for violence against clergymen. In September, Cuban bishop Eduardo Boza Masvidal and 135 priests had been forced to leave Cuba.'
5 January: 'The first recording on which The Beatles play, the 45 rpm record My Bonnie, credited to "Tony Sheridan and the Beat Brothers" (recorded last June in Hamburg), is released by Polydor in the United Kingdom; "The Saints" is on the B-side.'
Also on 5 January: 'Prison inmate Clarence Gideon sent a letter, written in pencil, to the United States Supreme Court, asking them to reverse his conviction for burglary on the grounds that he had not been given the right to an attorney. The Supreme Court granted certiorari and, on March 18, 1963, issued the landmark decision of Gideon v. Wainwright, holding that the Sixth Amendment guarantee, of the right to assistance of counsel, required the appointment of a lawyer for any person unable to afford one.
6 January: John F. Kennedy was formally elected as the 35th president of the United States, as a joint session of the U.S. Congress witnessed the counting of the electoral vote. U.S. Vice-President Richard Nixon, who had opposed Kennedy in the 1960 election, formally announced the result.
UK chart hits, week ending 6 January 1962 (tracks in italics have been featured previously)
That was interesting. I had never heard of Clarence Gideon and I've just spent the last 45 minutes Googling it
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