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|The Workers in the Factory|
Although the Chester-Perry Building is mainly offices, it has a substantial factory attached. Whatever it is that they make, the output justifies the maintenance of a fleet of large trucks (always referred to as "juggernauts") and a Transport Department. The most important place is the Machine Shop where Charlie (see below) rules and there is an assembly and packaging line staffed by boisterious and aggressive women. They scare Bristow. It is a safe bet they would scare Fudge. The atmosphere of the factory is typical of British engineering in the 1960s - lots of clanky conveyor belts (with a hint of steam power), ranks of drilling machines and power looms, workers in overalls standing about, grease and oil stains, many component parts stacked around but no obvious finished product.
A visit to the assembly line (the little jets of smoke are the workers scurrying back to work as a man in a suit goes by)
The workers have their own rigid traditions to uphold. They observe tea breaks as fanatically as do the clerks in the floors above. They are strongly unionised and come out on strike at the drop of a hat. (One time Bristow sticks his neck out by telling them they are misguided. He is lucky to escape without being tarred and feathered). They are also quick to come out in sympathy with their brothers in the Northern branch (and are careful to pack sun-cream, cricket bats and balls, and picnic lunches before going up north to join the picket line). However there is one sure method of breaking up a strike strip 3093 .
Every year the workers have an annual outing to Stoneybeach or Mudsea. The drinks order for the coaches is enough to save Bodega Bros. from its regular brush with bankruptcy. Should the outing’s path cross the annual outing of the Myles & Rudge factory outing then the resulting punch-up will leave every man with black eyes and broken limbs.
The factory closes for two weeks for summer holidays. Atkins of Accounts puts his back out trying to deliver all the wages in one go. The workers invariably jet off to places like Mustique, the Seychelles and Hawaii, suggesting they do better than most of the clerks! One year they club together and charter a plane to a sun-drenched Pacific atoll, sending a crowd of natives running in panic
Native 1: Look up in de sky man - here come
de big silver bird
The workers seem to defer to Bristow and he always smartens himself up before taking a stroll on the factory floor. Whenever he is feeling down, he takes a stroll around the machine shop and pretends to be a director, as in strip 5332 .
It is unlikely that this fools any of the lads on the shop floor but they probably like Bristow simply because he does take the trouble to visit them. They also take a kindly attitude to late-comers who climb the factory walls to avoid having to sign the late book - strip 3764 . The rest of C-Ps acts as if the factory and its dirty-handed workers do not exist.
Charlie of the Machine Shop addresses his colleagues
The only worker to be named, Charlie is a man to be reckoned with. He seems to be the ringleader in any industrial action and he is the man who posts up the girlie calendars that draws huge admiring crowds of clerks from upstairs. When the house journal starts a small ads section it is Charlie who advertises 5 bedroom houses in the Seychelles and similar locations.
On one morning Bristow wanders in to find every man in the factory gathered round Charlie’s lathe. They watch every practised movement with awe until he shouts "It’s finished lads", produces a coin-shaped disk and puts it in the drinks machine. There is a huge cheer of "Yippee it works" as a drink gushes out.