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Documentary paying tribute to the Friction Dynamics strikers shortlisted for top award

07 Apr 2022 3 minute read
Documentary maker Dion Jones

A new documentary telling the story of the Friction Dynamics strike, which took place in Caernarfon between 2001-2003, has been nominated for a Royal Television Society award at a ceremony in Cardiff this Friday evening.

Bangor University film school graduate Dion Jones’ short film ‘Y Lein: Friction Dynamics’ revisits the dispute, which saw 86 workers man the picket lines for almost three years following the takeover of the company by the American anti-union businessman Craig Smith.

The men, all members of the Transport & General Workers Union went on strike after employment terms and conditions were changed at the plant which made car parts, and were then sacked by Friction Dynamics bosses.

In October 2002, an employment tribunal found they were unfairly dismissed. But the workers never received compensation as Friction Dynamics called in the receivers – setting up a new company Dynamex Friction within three weeks.

With a background making music videos, Dion has a strong personal connection to the story as his grandfather was one of the men on strike and he says he wanted to pay tribute to him and the other men involved in the dispute, for their doggedness in standing up for what they believed in.

Dion’s grandfather Raymond

“Me and my brother as kids, we were on the picket line with them – and as we grew older, we understood what that actually meant,’ he said.

“The whole point of the film, of course they’re all getting a bit older now, was to get them to understand that we haven’t forgotten what they’ve done.

“I remember at the time feeling that money was a bit tight and we didn’t have the material things other people had but growing older, starting work yourself, joining unions and things like that, you really understand the sacrifices that they made and for such a long time as well.

“It’s just incredible. And something ordinary working people in Wales shouldn’t let be forgotten.”

Future generations

Although they failed in their bid secure compensation, Dion says his grandfather and the other strikers felt they achieved a victory for future generations.

“During the process they understood they might not get what they wanted or what they deserved but other people in the future might because of what they did.

“It is a huge shame they didn’t get what they deserve but I hope and I believe we are in a better place than we were then, and huge credit goes to these guys that were in the Ferodo strike.

“If they had folded, maybe after two years or a year, it would have sent out a message that people can get away with doing this.

“That was the main victory. The company didn’t get away with it.”

Looking ahead to Friday evening’s award ceremony in Cardiff, Dion admits winning the award would be a big boost and could help him secure the backing he needs to produce a full-length documentary about the strike

“If we won the award, I think it would go a long way towards getting that funding.

“To be able to stand up in front of of a room of TV influencers – that would be huge,” he admitted.

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