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Last Updated: Friday, 14 November, 2003, 12:01 GMT
Quarry strikers are remembered
The strikers' defence fund committee
The strikers' defence fund received money from all over the world

A memorial service has marked the centenary of the end of the longest trade union strike in British history.

For three years - from 1900 to 1903 - almost 3,000 workers from the Penrhyn Quarry in Bethesda in Gwynedd were locked in a bitter dispute with the quarry's owner Lord Penrhyn.

The North Wales Quarrymen's Union took action over management's decision to introduce contractors at the works which affected wages.

The Great Strike divided the town in two - between the men who refused to go back to work and the 500 who did after six months and were infamously dubbed 'bradwyr' (traitors).

Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the strike's end, and the service took place at the town's Neuadd Ogwen at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

The hall was where the strikers decided to accept defeat and go back to work on 14 November, 1903.

One man who still lives in the village told me that his father who went back to work was attacked and kicked so badly that he died some years later as a result
Rhiannon Rowlands, Dyffryn Ogwen Historical Society
Local historian J Elwyn Hughes said: "There was a rift in the community, even within families and in the school playground between the strikers and the 'traitors'.

"Around 1,500 men left the town to go and work in places like the south Wales mines and Bethesda was never the same again.

"The interest in it was worldwide and money for the striking workers was collected all over the world."

Rhiannon Rowlands, from the Dyffryn Ogwen Historical Society, said that although no one had died as a direct result of the strike, there were long-term effects.

"People weren't being fed properly which resulted in some contracting tuberculosis.

"One man who still lives in the village told me that his father who went back to work was attacked and kicked so badly that he died some years later as a result."

Friction Dynamics picket
Workers at Friction Dynamics are still picketing their plant

A few years after the strike ended Penrhyn Quarry was forced to have a union representative and as a result conditions improved.

Penrhyn Male Voice Choir sang at Thursday's service, and a commemorative blue slate plaque, donated by the quarry's present owners Alfred McAlpine, was unveiled.

A hundred years later, the struggle has a resonance with the sacked workers of the Friction Dynamics plant a few miles away in Caernarfon.

Workers there are involved in the longest running modern day strike action, still picketing the plant after the dispute with the factory's American owner Craig Smith began in April 2001.

An industrial tribunal ruled that the 86 staff who lost their jobs had had been unfairly dismissed and should get compensation.

However, no compensation has been paid and the company was put into administration and the remaining 93 workers lost their jobs.

Town rocks to strike concert
23 Jun 03  |  North West Wales
Morgan unveils strike memorial
11 Nov 00  |  Wales
Sacked staff take festival stage
20 Jun 03  |  North West Wales
Friction workers address TUC
08 Sep 03  |  North West Wales

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