In 1967, 3% of the workforce had been unemployed; thirty years later they had been 12% out of work. The rise of unemployment in the last three decades has been explosive, violent and destructive; from some 250 000 in 1967 to a staggering 3.2 million unemployed in 1997, a human disaster that rocked the very foundations of our democracy. This disease of the end of the 20th century has left all sorts of traces on television: recorded speeches by politicians, employers and union leaders, tv reports and documentaries, tv movies and even mega variety shows. Looking back on those images, listening again to the comments and analysis of the key players of this tragedy at the time, offers the first elements to what can be termed as the ‘History of Unemployment’. Above all, this retrospective gives a better understanding of how wage earners lost out to the capitalist system.