The sphere of public sector employment in Britain expanded in the course of the 1940s-thanks to the growth of state intervention, the establishment of a welfare state, the nationalisation programme. By July 1948, well over one-quarter of all civilian employees were employed-directly or indirectly —by the state.2 At the same time, as other contributors show,3 government became increasingly involved in the modernisation of industry, the promotion of higher productivity and the rationalisation of work practices. Pressure to rationalise employment was as severe in the state sector as anywhere else; labour shortages and the export drive required the dedication of manpower resources to manufacturing industry. Being under state control, we might expect that public sector employment would respond more readily to official policy. As the following account will show, however, the drive towards modernisation and rationalisation in the public sector met with a mixed reception and produced mixed results; resistance to change was most marked in areas with long-established and deep-rooted working conventions which came within the state’s permanent purview after the war.