IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

 

 

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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches

 

 From each according to his need; ability; to each according to his need; is one which I can commend to you all. 

If more people practiced it in this bad old world, there wouldn’t be so much hate and misery.

 

 ON THE SURFACE 

A PAGE FOR MOTORMEN

By D.K. PULLEN 

This page is created to try and explain the historic footplate events that were occurring on the Southern Region during the  mid 1950s - the mid 1960s, which was a period that brought major changes within the footplate grades and within the railways.

 These reports were recorded in his monthly columns in the Locomotive Journal. 

 

Don Pullen

 

Don Pullen worked at Ashford & Victoria Central depots,

he held the positions as A.S.L.E.F. Organising Secretary for the Southern Region 

and later become the Assistant General Secretary of A.S.L.E.F.

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

FEBRUARY 1957


SHED MASTERS, taken in the herd, are not really a bad lot. Most of them have far more work to deal with, more staff to supervise and more knocks to take than the majority of the underlings on British Railway. It can be said, with truth, that some Shed Masters have even made an attempt on occasions to get down to a real appreciation of the problems, which perpetually bother the representatives of the Electrical staff under their supervision. Yet it must be regretfully stated that very few of these depot chiefs could claim an encyclopaedic knowledge of agreements concerning the workaday conditions of Motormen.

If therefore comes as a pleasant surprise to learn that at least one Shed Master has revently been checking up on certain agreements to the extent that he now able to quote “Chapter and Verse” from all manner of important documents. It is not for us to complain at this revelation, for it at least shows that somebody does cares…….Still, it does make things awkward for our people.

From our point of view, it is by no means easy for our L.D.C. representatives to keep abreast of the constantly changing conditions of service. In the past 12 months, for example, there have been revisions of agreements governing the promotion and transfer arrangements, duty rostering, meal-breaks, etc., and it is difficult to keep pace with all these changes. To produce a new conditions of service book at this time would almost certainly render such a publication out-of-date before it could be distributed. However, the E.C. has this matter very much in mind and a new booklet is to be prepared at the earliest practical moment. Meantime, branches will be kept fully informed and the more important changes reported in the Locomotive Journal. A recent R.S.J.C. Minute under the heading Variation of Rostered Turns – Trainmen has caused a deal of discussion in certain districts and it may be useful to give minute in full: -

R.S.J.C. Minute L5

With reference to RSC and ASLEF Min. No.65-18/4/28; the representative of the ASLEF submitted a request that clause 2 of Min. 65- 18/4/28 in regard of rostered turns of Trainmen should be amplified as follows:

“Motormen and Steam Enginemen to have full entitlement to the turn for which they are rostered on the weekly duty rotation list, unless such turn is cancelled.”

The ASLEF representatives submitted that Min No.65 provides that in certain circumstances it may be necessary to vary rostered working but at the present time alterations were taking place in certain Regions much too frequently instead of being confined to exceptional cases. They urged the Railways to tighten up the arrangement as this frequent alteration to rostered working was having a detrimental effect on the retention of staff to the service, particularly in the case of younger members who were not so amenable to shift working as some of the older staff.

The Railway representatives, whilst unable to agree to the amplification of Min. 65 as suggested by the ASLEF,  undertook to direct attention of all concerned to the desirability of minimising the alterations to the rostered working of Trainmen as far as practicable.”

L.D.C.’s will now be keeping a sharp watch on the antic of the roster clerks. Any complaints from individuals regarding duty alterations should be taken up with Shed Master, and if no satisfactory explanation is forthcoming the whole matter of rostering at the depot concerned should be listed for discussion. With perseverance and joint L.D.C. approach will solve this.

 

LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL 

MAY 1957


Last month we pointed to the various means by which both sides of the railway industry are pursing the question of maximum productivity at minimum labour costs. The Southern Region’s London suburban and south coast routes were quoted in support of the contention that the utmost economies have ALREADY been effected wherever single-manned multiple units trains are in operation. Reference to fast trains, quick turn-round, and intensified service prompts the question, “What has been the cost to the man at the Front End?”

The transition from steam to electric or diesel is not an easy phase in the career of a driver. Many men in the first few months of electrical work find that there is a vast deal of difference in the two jobs. It is one thing to stand behind the familiar “security” of a locomotive boiler, with another pair of eyes and hands available on the footplate. It is entirely another to sit immediately over the running rail, moving all the time in an altogether more intense service-knowing that all the responsibilities is yours…. Headaches, presumably caused through added concentration and a certain psychological “pull,” are often experienced by our men during those first months. It is all very well for the newspapers to talk of there being “no case for a fireman on a fireless train,” but there is rather more in this job than first meets the eye.

It can, and doubtless will, be argued that since the Southern Region multiple unit trains have been successfully manned for many years by one Driver, it is unreasonable to insist on double-manning of locomotives at this late stage. Not a bit of it. It all depends, as Joad would have said, on what you mean by “successful.”

Motormen have failed to pass the necessary medical examination and have consequently been removed from track duties. It would be wrong and dangerous to attempt here to develop any theory in explanation of the root cause of these failures. But every Motorman who reads this article will know only too well the nature of the complaints which have necessitated the removal of our colleagues from track duties – and there are the strongest possible arguments to be adduced in support of the theory that such complaints have a relationship to the everyday stresses and strains of handling high-speed trains.

SHOCK-of the type experienced by all too many of our men when a gang of platelayers scrambles out of the path of an oncoming train; when, indeed, factalities occur in this manner; accidents at level crossings and other points at which the public have access to the line; the hundred-and-one other minor shocks which leave the Driver temporarily numbed of and weak at the knee. The accumulative effect of such happenings often too much for the human frame to take – hence failure to pass the Medical Officer. This is a high price for our men to pay.

Those men who handle express stock will readily acknowledge the extra tension experienced when travelling at maximum speeds. Fifty to 60 miles per hour may seem a jog-trot and is taken in the stride. But feel the difference on a dirty winter’s night when the needle on the “clock” creeps round to the 75 mark. What then of 100 m.p.h., cruising speeds? Obviously the increased speed will bring added tension and increased physical strain to the man at the front. If the Modernisation Plan means what it promises – faster traffic in an intensified service – some consideration has to be given. NOW to the well-being of the people who will be called upon to handle the new-style locomotives. Your Executive Committee has the problem very much in mind. Depend upon it, the Society’s policy on manning will be vigorously pursued by your representatives at all levels of discussion. 

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JUNE 1957


The 1957 Motormen’s Reunion held in Croydon recently was a very special occasion for members of Selhurst Branch and, indeed, for many visitors as well. Besides being the high spot of the year for many of our retired comrades and their wives, this was also the occasion of a rather special presentation. Bill Boulton, for many years Branch Secretary at Selhurst – and before that of West Croydon in the old days – retired from the Secretaryship and the Branch paid due tribute.

It was an honour to be called upon to make the official presentation which took form of an inscribed leather wallet, complete with cheque, and it was particularly pleasing to acknowledge also the wonderful services to the Society, through her husband, of Mrs. Boulton who received a handsome barometer – a token of the very real appreciation of the past and present members of Selhurst Branch.

Bill Boulton is the perfect example of everything that is best in the Trade Union movement. Always ready to give an encouraging lead to the young man who shows promise in the branch, Bill is respected wherever Motormen to discuss railway and trade union business. Starting in the railway service in the year 1909 at West Croydon, he first took office in the Society, as Branch Collector, in 1913. Not once since that time has he been out of office – holding almost every conceivable job as a Society representative. Branch Chairman, Secretary for five years at West Croydon and at Selhurst for over 23 years, e has served on many L.D.C.’s and has seen innumerable colleagues come and go. Delegate to Annual Assemblies of Delegates, District Council delegate in the days when this work was purely voluntary; delegate to Croydon Labour Party and Trades Council for many years – crowned by a long spell as Sectional Council representative, where he did prodigious work for Motormen. Here is the advice given by Bro. Boulton to all young men who aspire to representative positions in the Society: -

“There’s nothing clever in the work, but you must have enthusiasm and a CLEAR CLASS-CONSCIOUS approach to all the many problems. There have been many times when I’ve wondered seriously whether the results were worth the effort –when friends have advised, ‘give it a rest’; but the ever-present urge to serve has prompted me to carry on. The old true slogan of the early Socialists, ‘From each according to his need; ability; to each according to his need; is one which I can commend to you all. If more people practiced it in this bad old world, there wouldn’t be so much hate and misery.’

On behalf of all Southern Region Motormen, thanks for everything, Bill, and all good wishes for a happy spell in the Chair at Selhurst during the remainder of your railway service. Bro. Charlie Foot has a tough assignment as your successor, but we all know he will carry on the good work – and he will receive the same support from a grand Committee as you have had down through the years.

Two of our motormen colleagues Bro. Ron Pratt, Branch Secretary at Wimbledon, and Peter Collens of Selhurst have secured Society Scholarships to Summer Schools this year, thus earning our congratulations. More and more of our branches are taking an active interest in the educational side of our work, and it is encouraging to that Motormen members are sufficiently advance to be able to take advantage of this sort of tuition. We all wish Bros. Pratt and Collens a pleasant and instructive time at the N.C.L.C. and Labour Party Schools and we look forward with interest to their reports on their return.

Footnote: The hold –up in this year’s issue of the long awaited lightweight uniform trouser issue is for some reason that the type of cloth to be used in the new garment did not measure up to the standard required by the Executive Committee, and we have asked the B.T.C. to think again about the type of material to be used….. No further comment needed!


DISCTRICT COUNCIL REPORT No.1

The May quarterly meeting of the Council was held n May 13, with Bro. S.R. Lunniss (President) in the Chair. Organizer Cleaver and E.C. Member D. Pullen were in attendance, the latter deputizing for Bro. H. Howes away on annual leave. 

Two branches were not represented Acton Town and Wimbledon.

Criticism was leveled at the new method of the Area Membership statement and, arising from the discussion thereon, the Council are reverting to the previous practice of tabulating the Membership Statement in full with the addition of a column giving information on individual branch sales of the Journal.

Bro. Pullen in his address provided the delegates with a detailed account of the work of the E.C. over the past three months. The wages position was fully reviewed and the lessons arising from the Government’s policy of attaching “strings” to wage settlement was well understood. Redundancy and Manning was of course the outstanding item of the report, Bro. Pullen being allocated additional time to deal specifically with it. The questions put to him and the discussion that folled gave a true indication to Bro. Pullen of the interest of thee London membership in the vital and basic problems for the future. Other highlights of his report were the Port of London Authority Wages and Pension agreements, the P.T.&R. Arrangements (Clause 2), and the visit to Poland by the E.C. delegation. Bro. Pullen’s report was very well received.

Organizer Cleaver provided the Council with an interesting account of some of the happenings within the area that had required his attention. He spoke on Rest Day working, Colour Vision failures, and the wages position. He made specific reference to the collisions at Portsmouth and Welwyn Garden City. On the latter collision, and the subsequent developments, Bro. Cleaver stressed once again the absolute need of members reporting every signal irregularity, thereby enabling Head Office to collate the fullest possible reference. Delegates were also informed of the increase of 574 in membership over the past two years for this area.

 

  LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JULY 1957

On The Surface


Without getting ourselves bogged down in technicalities, let’s have a word this month on the subject of the Guard’s Brake Test. No need here to waste valuable space on the importance of always making an adequate test - the punishment meted out to our men when something goes wrong in this connection indicates quite clearly that nothing will soften the hearts of those people who sit in judgement if it is alleged that the Motorman failed to carry out, to the letter, his instructions on Testing The Brake before starting.

Quite often, particularly at points where attachments are made on the main line, the late running of one portion will cause a bit of a flap among the staff concerned. In their natural anxiety to get the train away on time some seemingly small duty may be overlooked. Too late, it is discovered  that all is not well with the brake and someone’s for the high jump. Don’t be caught. Always remember that a Motorman’s uniform from the moment on he cease to be a human being possessed of human fallibilities; he become a robot - just another “Ernie.” The bouquets to be gained in our job for helping things along seem very few; brickbats when something goes wrong are plentiful enough...

While on the subject, have you ever experienced the difficulty of attracting the attention of the Guard when you are not satisfied that an adequate brake test has been made? Consider the following scene:-

The Motorman of a Brighton train is standing by his cab-door on platform 17 at London Bridge, talking to the Foreman Motorman just prior to starting. The necessary test at the front end have been made and as time goes on it becomes clear that the guard has overlooked this part of his duties.

The Motorman becomes a little anxious and begins to make motions from his end of an eight-car train that a brake test is required. He begins by clenching his fist and jerking his left arm up and down violently. This goes on for a few moments. The passengers look on in wide-eyed wonderment, but the Guard, engrossed in driver other duties, has failed to notice the performance. Something else must be tried. Hereupon, the Motorman commences to clap his hands together horizontally in a manner remarkably reminiscent  of a demented baboon while at the same time hopping up and down in a most alarming way. (It is by this time noticeable that several passengers step down from their compartments, quietly closing the door behind them, with the all-too-obvious intent of waiting for a following train. Clearly this driver is mentally deranged.)

There follows much shouting and whistling and rattling of lights and circuit-breakers in a further endeavour to attract attention at the rear, but it is not until the Forman-Motorman dashes down the platform frantically signalling four leg-byes that it dawns upon the Guard that no test has been made and save the situation. The Motorman by this time embarrassed beyond expression, pulls up his near-side window and is thankful that it’s time to start.

It is, of course, expecting far too much ofModernisation to suggest that some from of telephonic communication be installed in trains for the use of Motorman and Guard. But surely in a machine which it is not beyond the wit of man to devise some system of bell-communication between the man at the front and the man at the rear? Perhaps our L.D.C.’s can keep the problem in mind for discussion at future meetings with the Management?

 

  LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

AUGUST 1957


In the newspapers recently a prominent Member of Parliament was reported as having strongly protested that British Railways station buffets and tea-rooms are a national disgrace. If the sight and smell in public places of “unwashed floors,” “tables swimming with tea and beer,” etc., give rise to such an outcry, the imagination fairly boggles at the thought of an M.P. visiting staff rooms on some Southern Region railway stations.

While it is true that years and years of weary negotiation at L.D.C. level occasionally win a modern gas-stove to replace the type of water-heating apparatus originally rejected by Noah when equipping his Ark, in the main our mess-rooms are deplorable. Victoria and Brighton rooms are a disgrace. Outstations like Crystal Palace (what name was ever more misleading?) simply defy description.

In looking around these places one finds it difficult to believe that many thousands of pounds are being allocated to staff welfare each year. The good offices of those Management and Trade Union representatives who sit on the body known as the Joint Advisory Council for Welfare pass almost entirely unnoticed by the bulk of the people who should be benefitting therefrom. The Joint Advisory Council meets regularly to discuss all matters concerning the wellbeing of the staff of British Railways, and it’s a safe bet that the Modernisation Plan will eventually get around to providing reasonable premises in which the staff may enjoy proper facilities for partaken of a meal. Whether or not this happy vision will materialise within the lifetime of those still young enough to hope, is somewhat bigger gamble....

This promise of Pie in the Sky is not noticeably nourishing to our older colleagues, however, and our Local Departmental Committee representatives are very much concerned with the immediate problem. Secretaries Len Traverner and Harold Gagilhole (Norwood Junction and Bricklayer’s Arms) in particular have pressed the local management for action in the matter and a suggestion has been made that Motormen should be rostered for P.N. relief only at stations where there adequate facilities are provide - such as at terminal stations or at depots where Foremen Motormen are stationed. This recommendation has been considered by Sectional Council, but the difficulties of rostering in this way have been argued strongly by the management and the position has not been satisfactorily resolved.

Our representatives can be relied upon to press the matter further; meanwhile, it is up to the men at all depots to insist that the mess rooms are kept in the best possible state of cleanness and that elementary standards of hygiene are maintained. The once-a-week swill-round with a bucket of water which has previously removed some part of the filth from other staff rooms on the station is simply not good enough. Dustbins should not be placed within a mile of any room wherein meals are taken. Wash-basins and sinks are not the best repositories for used tea leaves. There is a great deal to be done if we are to succeed in making the job as comfortable as we all want it. 

Our representatives will have a much easier task if a effort is made NOW by everyone to show management that we will not be so treated. And, when the improvements are finally made, let’s be sure that no one of us can be accused of abusing the facilities provided.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

SEPTEMBER 1957


One of the marvels of the modern railway practice is the manner in which the average Motorman sorts  out from the maze of hieroglyphics know as the “Roster” that part of the Monkey-Puzzle which relates to his own duties on any given day.

When the staff representatives go along to scrutinise the draft workings at the commencement of the winter or summer services things are bad enough. Complaints have been officially lodged for a number of years about the manner in which duties are set out. From time to time promises are made that something will be done. Nothing, in fact, is ever done.

But the complexities confronting experienced roster-scrutineers at the time of issuing the printed rosters are nothing compared with the jig-saw puzzle with which the Motorman has to contend after these duties have been posted for about a fortnight. For in just a couple of weeks the diagramming wizards are well capable of achieving the impossible. Duties which had hitherto appeared so involved that no alteration could possibly add to the confusion are overnight transformed.

This business of over-pasting the printed rosters is really threatening to get out of hand. Notice boards at most Electrical Depots are so crammed with alterations that the men detailed to perform the depot duties experience increasing difficulty in finding sufficient space for everything contained in the dispatch-bag. At holiday times any vacant space on a wall or door is pressed into service as a temporary notice board. Small wonder that someone occasionally misreads his duties.

In the past month I have received correspondence from L.D.C and Depot representatives giving scores of examples of amended duties relating to the present summer diagrams. In many cases the staff representatives complain that there is no apparent reason for the alterations-and in any case they have been given no opportunity to scrutinise the amendments before they are posted. Quite often the duty a man is booked to work bears absolutely no resemblance to the turn originally approved by the roster scrutineers. If this state of affairs is allowed to develop, roster scrutiny will become farcical in the extreme. Local Department Committee have been struggling with this problem - as separate units - for far too long. It is to be hoped that discussions on the subject of Standardisation of Summer and Winter Diagrams will soon be held at top level with object of cutting out much of these seemingly unnecessary and irrupting amendments to the weekly rosters.

The difficulties of rostering men to cover additional wok at holiday times are well appreciated by the staff. The heavy traffic on Southern Electric has to be handled every year by a complement of Motormen much too small to tackle the job efficiently unless some pretty hefty sacrifices are made by the men concerned. Hence we get extended rosters and minimum rest intervals at the very time when a shorter working day is in every way desirable. It is because of inadequate staffing that the Diagram Section find themselves in such difficulties that the rosters can only be produced a matter of hours before the services are to be introduced. Can anyone wonder that the men resent being kept in the dark about their turn of duty unit the very last moment at holiday times? Only  y increasing the staff at certain vantage points can this problem be solved. Our local representatives have pressed the point at every opportunity in recent years. It is in the interest of both management and men to staff up the Electric Depots adequately.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

OCTOBER 1957


With the Modernisation Plan the talking - point of the day, it might be as well to pause for a moment and take a look back down through the years to the very beginnings of electrification on the railways of Britain.

The following summary comes from the pen of a Motorman who grew up with electrification - Bert Cooper of Selhurst branch, over 40 years a Motorman at Streatham Hill depot. Bro. Cooper retired in August and thus severed the last link between present - day conditions and the good - bad days of the Southern Railway’s “Overhead” system.

(We have indeed much pleasure in publishing Bro. Cooper’s summary and in expressing our deep appreciation of the service to the branch and society.-Editor)

The history of the electrification of the Southern Railway and its constituent companies dates from the year 1903 when, having obtaining Parliament powers, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway instructed its consulting engineer to prepare a report on the question of conversion of the suburban lines.

This L.B.S.C.R. conversion was on the 6,600-volt, single phase system, partly because of the development of that principle in the first years of the century and partly because, even at that early date, main line extensions to Brighton and the south coast were envisaged. Extensions to Crystal Palace from both Victoria and London Bridge were completed before the first war. Others, to Coulsdon, Sutton, Eastbourne and Brighton, were authorised but due to the war only the Coulsdon and Sutton lines were converted to single - phase traction - and there not until 1925.

In 1915, the London & South Western Railway began operating over the Kingston roundabout and the Waterloo line via Putney. The early progress made in the design of low voltage current traction decided the directors to adopt this system. Extensions were made in 1916 to Shepperton, Hampton Court and Claygate, and after the amalgamation of 1923 direct current was adopted as the standard for future conversations.

The year 1925 saw the conversion of the lines to Guildford and Dorking, and 1930 that of the Windsor line. 1926 was memorable for the opening of the first section of the South Eastern & Chatham electrification under the auspices of the Southern Railway Railway Company. originally this electrification had been planned just after the 1914-18 war to use 1,500 volts D.C. system on suburban lines has been progressive and culminated in opening to electric  traction of the two routes to Sevenoaks. The Sanderstead line and the Nunhead - Lewisham loop were due to be opened to electric traction. The old L.B.S.C.R. single phase lines were converted to low voltage D.C. in 1929 but some of the overhead masts still exist as signal gantries.

A notable decision was made in 1930 when electrification to Brighton and West Worthing was begun and turned the Southern definitely into a believer in the electrification of densely trafficked main and suburban lines. The first stage to Redhill, Reigate and Three Bridges was opened on July 17th, 1932, and the southern half of the line on January 1st, 1933. Work on the 60 mile extension to Lewes, Eastbourne and Hastings was begun at the end of 1933 and public electric service was inaugurated on 7th July, 1935, when a total of 444 route and 1,156 track  miles was operated electrically by the Southern Railway.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

NOVEMBER 1957


The winter season is now upon us and it’s a safe bet that a good many men booking on in the early hours of a nice crisp, hoary morning will be wishing they’d remembered to book this draughty cabs way back in the summer.

Trouble is, of course, that in the summer months any draught of cool air is most welcome to the Motorman stuck for hours in a sweltering cab, clothed in a uniform quite obviously not designed for tropical conditions. (By the way, the matter of summer-wear trousers came up for another airing at a meeting of the R.S.J.C. recently, and there are hopes of a satisfactory settlement of our differences on the subject of suitable material soon. More on this later.)

Thanks to L.D.C. pressure, the subject of draughty cabs has been taken up by the Management, and first reports of their most recent efforts - Unit 4123, returned to service from Lancing Works, for example - are most favourable. These cabs, I understand are now 100% draught-proof and the heaters are consequently much more effective. Southern Region Sectional Council has also done much to bring about this improvement and, as is well know, many experiments have been tried over the past few years.

Now that the problem has been overcome on suburban units we shall have only ourselves to blame if we suffer from the cold in future. It is up to everyone to faithfully report draughts in cabs on every occasion - not merely when berthing units at a maintenance depot. On main line stock, and here I have the “Nelsons” very much in mind, this problem is more acute and its solution still, apparently, some way off. Nevertheless, even these can be improved and complaints should be properly recorded.

While on the subject of cabs it might not be out of place to mention the fitly conditions of some of the older-type units. At a Joint Consultative meeting at Victoria recently, L.D.C. representatives in the Stewarts Lane D.M.P.S. area were given an opportunity to have their say on the matter.

The main problem here has been the reluctance of female cleaning staff to work within a broom’s length of the cab-mounted electrical equipment. Cleaners, male and female have usually considered themselves to be “Unauthorised Persons” when it comes to entering the Motorman’s cab. Consequently no brush, broom or duster disturbs the dust and other refuse accumulated behind the equipment.

In summer the heat becomes oppressive, necessitating the opening of the front cab windows when running. This dust swirls in a storm for a few moments until finally settling in the rough serge of the Motorman’s uniform. There should be no need for this sort of discomfort. I understand that certain promises were made at the Victoria meeting regarding the cleanliness of cabs, and our representatives are hopeful that some good will result from their efforts. Meanwhile we ourselves can do much to improve the state of the cabs in which we spend so much time each day by being a little more careful with cigarette-ends, matches, toffee-papers, old newspapers, etc. In the absences of ashtrays and refuse-baskets there is only one place for all these items..

That place is NOT inside the cab. 

 

  LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JULY 1958


Whatever else may be said about the settlement of our claim for an increase in wages, this much is beyond dispute: THE VAST MAJORITY OF OUR MEMBERSHIP NOW REALISE AS NEVER BEFORE THAT A TORY GOVERNMENT MEANS DIRECT POLITICAL INTERFERENCE IN TRADE UNION NEGOTIATIONS.

Lively discussion in our Branches and, particularly, at the last quarterly meeting of the London District Council, has revealed a general if somewhat belated acknowledgement of the strong logic in the arguments of those who, for many years past, have warned of the danger industrially of political apathy inside the Trade Union Movement. Recent meetings have been a tonic to those colleagues who, so it must have seemed, have been in the wilderness for so long.

If the Tories have done nothing else, at least they have succeeded in rousing the political consciousness of our members. NOW is the time to press home so obvious an advantage. A special effort by Branch Committees in the next few weeks would, without doubt, bring in more contributors to the Society’s Political Fund. Those who, for varying reasons, had contracted out of membership of this Fund are now having second thoughts. A stronger fund means the possibility of greater representation at Westminster. This Government is hanging on by the skin of its teeth. When it finally goes, let’s be sure of securing the maximum possible A.S.L.E. & F. representation in the Labour Government that follows.

Now for a few jottings off the cuff.

A new-style Motorman’s Ticket has been devised by management and, after consultation with the Unions, a draft tick has been approved. Main change from the old S.R. ticket concerns the of actual departure and arrival times for each trip. It is understood that where train turn-round time is short there will be a local understanding on what is actually required on the ticket by the Accountant’s Department. It is reasonable to assume that L.D.C. representatives will be consulted on this matter. With a view to checking a flood of resolutions from our Branches, and of invective from the men on the job, let me add that the question of watches to Drivers and Motormen has already been taken up with the B.T.C. and, in R.S.J.C. Minute No. L.81, the application was again rejected....

On the question of the standardisation of winter and summer diagrams the latest news is that we are pressing for a meeting with Southern Region for full discussion of this matter. Thanks to the grand co-operation of Branch and L.D.C. representatives, a long list of complaints and recommendations for improvement has been compiled. The awaited talks should prove interesting.

A. number of items require the attention of the Headquarters Committee on Manning. One mat err which is not yet as clear as it might be concerns the train running time in connection with the agreement involving aggregate track work. An official ruling is required to cover those instances where a man is involved in short trips over a period, when turn-round time is involved.

Agreement has at last been reached on the provision of hand towels. Two small towels of unbleached huckaback will be issued annually to each man. The S.R. Sectional Council have agreed that the laundering of these cloths will received payment of 10/- per year for his trouble. The “Wacko” window-test will reveal which Motormen’s towel is spotless!

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

AUGUST 1958


The British Railways Modernisation Plan has already brought about many changes. Improved signalling, faster trains, new forms of traction, the extension of electrification and the consequent tremendous engineering projects witnessed throughout the Regions all add up to a minor industrial revolution; a revolution which is by no means only technical in character. The whole outlook of the present-day railwayman is being re-shaped by the many technical advancements. Nowhere is this more true than within the ranks of the footplatemen fraternity.

Much has been written, down through the years, about engines and enginemen. What could be described as the “Romantic Period,” the era of steam locomotive on the railways, is all but finished. There was a day, so we are told, when an engine-driver almost lived with his steed; thought more of it than his wife. A few years back we still had among us those pessimistic characters who longed for a return to the Good Old Days.

The “Good Old Days”! By this they meant the day of 10 hours, of bonuses and fine; of little or no annual leave; of iron discipline and little sympathy in tie of trouble; of limited trade union influence. We don’t hear quite so much about the old times these days. And for a very good reason.

Modernisation has brought many changes - in the main improvements - in our working conditions. It is the duty of efficient management to keep abreast of modern technical development; to provide the best possible service at the least possible cost. In present-day society it is the duty of trade unions to secure the best possible return, both in wages and conditions, for the labour, craft and “know-how” of the people they represent - and at the same time to co-operate to the full with management in all reasonable projects aimed at improved efficiency and economy. Spokesmen for the British Transport Commission have recently declared themselves to be satisfied with progress to date. We should, they say, be out of the wood by 1963. On the trade union side we, too, have had our successes and reports from our Annual Conference indicate the general satisfaction of the membership with recent decisions and agreements at national level. So fast is the flow of events that there is no time for nostalgic reflection.

Talking of  progress and change: one of the new-look schemes of the management concerned what was called decentralisation. This is supposed to mean Regional autonomy, inter-regional competition and, as a consequence, higher efficiency. On the face of it, this may not seem a bad idea. But how is it working out in practice?

For many years on Southern Electric diagramming of duties has been based on a 3 section scheme: Eastern, Central and Western. Three separate Roster Offices controlled the area with very little overlapping. With all its faults, this system produced some of the most efficient diagramming in modern railway practice. We now learn that “decentralisation” has overtaken the Eastern Section with a vengeance. New rosters have appeared, sub-divided; “Eastern,” “Chatham” and “Main Line.” Thus we have a considerable increase in the amount of travelling passenger from Eastern to Chatham and vice versa - as well as other consequential non-productive time. Even making full allowance for the main line extension to Ramsgate next year, this seems to be a case of decentralising gone mad.... If the Diagram Section is harbouring ideas for similar changes on the Central and Western sections, our local people have some good advice: Forget it!

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

OCTOBER 1958


Once again we are having trouble with people responsible for rostering duties in certain districts. The job of coping with the coast excursion traffic every summer is a formidable one. Although the management appear not to think so, there has always been a great measure of understanding between Motormen and the List Clerks and quite often, following a note explaining the reasons, a Motorman will agree to perform a duty other than his rostered turn in order to assist a harassed List Clerk to cover an awkward situation.

Some time ago we submitted a request to the Railway Staff Conference that R.S.C. Minute 65, in regard to rostered turns of Trainmen, should be amplified to give Motormen and Steam Engine full entitlement to the turn for which they are rostered on the weekly list, unless such turn is cancelled.

In October, 1956, at a meeting of the Railway Staff Joint Council (Locomotive Section), the matter was fully and frankly discussed. We pointed out that alterations to rostered workings in certain Regions were taking place too frequently and were not being confined to exceptional cases. We gave a number of reasons why,in the interest of management as well as men, the position should be improved. We also made it clear that there was considerable concern among our men at the inconvenience in social and domestic affairs occasioned by what appeared to be, in many cases, totally unnecessarily alterations.

The Railway representatives at this  meeting appreciated our arguments and, whilst being unable to agree fully to our suggestion on the amplification of R.S.C. Minute 65, they did undertake to “....direct the attention of all concerned to the desirability of minimising the alterations to the rostered working of Trainmen as far as practicable.”

Now in most cases, and certainly in any emergency, if the difficulty is explained our men will readily oblige despite the inconvenience. But there are times when domestic arrangements make it impossible for the men to co-operate. In such cases the local management should have the decency to acknowledge the man’s difficulty and so make some other provision to cover the turn.

For reasons best known to themselves there has always been a great reluctance on the part of Shed Masters to part with dual link Drivers. No doubt this is because of  staff shortages on the Steam side. Their dilemma is appreciated but they must not be allowed to forget that the dual links exist to provide spare men on the Electrical side. We have been told often enough that the first call on dual link Driver is for electric work.

Recently a man was issued a disciplinary charge for the “crime” of reporting for duty at his rostered signing-on time after being irregularly booked some other turn of duty. The man concerned gave adequate notice of his intention to book on for his own turn and even performed the latter duty on the Monday of the week in question in order that some alternative cover could be provided. It was not until it became obvious that the management were deliberately refusing to put things right that he decided to report for his own turn.

This sort of “strong-arm” stuff from the District Office is just not good enough. It leads to bad feeling between the men who do the job and the List Clerks whose duties are onerous enough already. It also, in this case mentioned above, led to the cancellation of trains which, so we are told, is unforgiveable.

 

    LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

NOVEMBER 1958


On this page last month we dealt with the general matter of rostering - and in particular the rights, if any such exist, of the management to move a man off his registered turn of duty in order to cover the turn of another man who, for one reason or another, is not available for the job.

The agreement governing the rights of men and management in all matters of rostering is, of course, set out in Railways Staff Conference Minute No. 65. The agreement dates from April, 1928. On the Steam side it has operated down through the years quite well - mainly because there are usually enough spare men available at Steam depots to adequately meet all exigencies.

Sometimes, though, even at the larger depots, extra work or a bout of sickness will make things a bit difficult for the duty clerks to cover very early or late duties. When this happens they sometimes suffer temporarily from a peculiar form of R.S.C. Minute No. 65 escapes them. With complete innocence they take a man off his rightful turn and book him the earliest one on, or the last one off - and then sit back, fingers crossed, to see if there is any come-back from the man concerned.

Quite often they manage to get away with it. But there are occasions when the injured party rebels and demands his rights. The Shed Master is brought into “interpret” the agreement. If the Shed Master is very lucky, someone will have provided him with an up-to-date copy of the A.S.L.E.& F. Conditions of Service book, and he will thus be able to point to the wording of Minute 65 in the hope of satisfactory disposing of the claims of the irate individual involved.

Occasionally there is complete disagreement at local level. The matter is eventually referred to Headquarters for a ruling. But, generally speaking, there has not been too much bother with this particular aspect of rostering on Steam side. At the Electrical depots things are rather less satisfactory.

With dual link Drivers working to capacity (in the summer mainly on steam work), Motormen are at a premium, as explained last month, the List Clerk is at his wit’s end trying to cover the very early and late duties and, if there is nothing else for it, he resorts to the accent practice of moving a man from his rostered turn.

All this is by no means satisfactory to the men affected. It is especially frustrating if the alteration has been left until the last moment.

If the Motorman is stationed at a link situated miles away from the parent depot there is very little chance of contacting the Shed Master in an effort to put things right. All that remains, in most cases, is to play the old army game of doing the job first and complaining afterwards. Among Motormen this presents a very knotty problem.

It is all the more pleasing, therefore, to report the final outcome of the case outlined last month where, after hearing all the facts at the disciplinary interview the D.M.P.S. agreed that the Motorman had acted in good faith and that the management had “no case.” The charge was accordingly dropped.

This is a very marked advance from the high-handed attitude of management in past similar circumstances and it is to be hoped that Shed Masters and other District Officers will take due note. One thing is certain. The men themselves recognise this more favourable treatment of a long-standing grievance and they fully appreciate this better understanding of the problem. This is surely the way toward 100 per cent. co-operation between the List Office and the Motormen concerned.

The Executive Committee has recently dealt with the report of our delegates on the 25th Biennial Congress of the International Transport Worker’ Federation, held in Amsterdam this year.

In a report full of extremely interesting items, three important policy statements will attract attention of motormen here inBritain: (1) Rail Safety Devices; (2) Reduction of Working Hours Arising from Increased Strain and Responsibilities; (3) Hardship Through Redundancy.

The latter item reminds us that the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme is now nearing completion and it is good to report the revised Staff Establishment figures given recently by Sectional Council representatives reveal a much more favourable picture than was at first envisaged. The completion of Phase One of the total scheme on the Southern Region shows that there will be no great redundancy problem on the Steam side, and that many more appointments to the trade of Motorman, will be needed to cover the new work. Plans for the big conversion in June next year are going ahead and our representatives on Sectional Council No.2 are to complimented on their efforts to effect a reasonably smooth change-over.

On the subject of safety devices it is interesting to read, in the current issue of the International Transport Workers’ Federation Journal, of the efforts on Norwegian State Railways to provide “walkie-talkie” equipment on their trains. With the aid of this apparatus train crews can easily communicate with each other and thus, when there is any dislocation of traffic, it is possible to keep everyone informed of the position. While British Railways have promised the early installation of some means of communication between Guard and Motorman on passenger trims, it has to be admitted that we are still a long way behind our Continental counterparts with regard to this development.

An interesting device already in use on the Federal German State Railways concerns the training of Drivers in route knowledge and in timekeeping. All drivers are issued with what are know as; “Route, Time and Speed Cards,” which depict in diagrammatic form all fixed signals, speed restrictions, gradients, etc., on the various routes over which routes they run. We believe these are of great assistance to men while on road learning.

Some time ago, Society representatives visited Germany as members of a “team visit” of European Production Agency. In reporting back our representatives stressed the success of the Speed Card system as they had seen it, and thought it would be invaluable to our Drivers and Motormen at home if something similar could be introduced on British Railways.

Am approach was accordingly made to the B.T.C. and the matter has now been discussed at top level. Unfortunately, though acknowledging the success of the scheme in Germany, the representatives of the Commission pointed to certain “difficulties” in railway operating practice here, and regretted that the suggestion could not be developed at this time.

Every member of this Organisation, from the youngest Cleaner to the General Secretary, has a vested interest in safe working. Our young Motormen have proved through the fogs of recent winters that they are eel able to carry on in the old tradition. We recall the names of Jack Skilton and Don Corke, two young men who came through a most harrowing ordeal with the greatest credit.

One of the main causes for the maintenance of the fine safety record British Railways is, of course, the self discipline and the devotion to duty built up in every one of us through years of footplate training. This is a factor which is not generally recognised or, if recognised, is not always acknowledged.

 

    LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

DECEMBER 1958


The opening of the Kent Coast Electrification Scheme, scheduled for June 1959, will make a tremendous difference to the services in and out of London termini on the Eastern Section of the Southern Region.

While regular passenger on the Chatham and Dover main line are eagerly looking forward to faster and more frequent services, the railway authorities are going ahead with the final details. Many Footplatemen and Motormen in the area are, meanwhile still more than a little apprehensive as to immediate future.

As explained las month, Sectional Council representatives have done a very good job where staff establishment revision has been necessary. Their reports to our branches have done much to dispel the worst fears of our people.

Unfortunately there are still the “Know-alls” who, without going near a branch room to hear official reports, profess to have a great deal more inside information than those Staff Side representatives who have been in close consultation with the Management from the very beginning.

In these times of violent change and uncertainty it is not very clever to deliberately set rumours running about the closing of depots, the transfer of work and consequent redundancy. But if any man is impressed by the phoney arguments of those characters, his worries are really all his own fault. The only place for fact is, of course, the branch room.

One big task to be completed in the next six or seven months concerns the training of many new Motormen and provision of adequate facilities for gaining necessary route knowledge.

In this connection it is good to learn that a new, well-equipped training school has been opened at Stewarts Lane. The old school at New Cross has for many years been an eyesore and a disgrace. Now that trainee Motormen are to be accommodated in the more favourable surroundings the old building at New Cross will no doubt suffer the far of the rest of the sheds that once were known as New Cross Gate Loco Depot - demolition.

Special measure will be necessary if the training programmer is to be completed by June next. So seriously do the Management view the problem that they have called together the L.D.C.s for down-to-earth consultation.

This is a marked step forward in managerial relations with the Staff and the Regional authorities responsible are to be complimented on making this approach. The job ahead can only be completed if there is the fullest co-operation of all concerned. In this project the men are just as keen as management to have everything ship-shape and on schedule.

While on the subject of training it is worth mentioning that not everyone is entirely satisfied that the truing system employed on the Southern Region is the best method of training men for Electrical duties. Many of our Improvement Class instructors, some of whom have since passed to Supervisory positions, are critical of existing training curricula and strongly advocate a complete revision of the system.

A number of our members - Drivers, Motormen and Supervisors - have been fortunate enough to attend management-sponsored training schools at Watford, Darlington, and elsewhere, from time to time. These courses have proved highly successful both for management and men.

It might be a good idea for such students, particularly those with knowledge of electric multiple-unit operation, to be called together in conference - representing both sides - with the object of devising a comprehensive training scheme to replace the present rather haphazard method.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JANUARY 1959


Having just passed the seasons when expressions of friendship and good-will are the order of the day, it will appear most inconsiderate too mention such a vexatious subject as Rest Day Working.

Nothing is more certain to cause hard feelings among Motormen just now than to criticise the recent local agreements whereby men are booked to work on their day of rest.

At a time when modernisation - the introduction of new forms of motive power, new Manning arrangements, service cuts, etc. - is causing us some real headaches up and down the country, it is obviously wrong for anyone to think about working rest days, much less queue up for them.

Last months we had some complimentary things to say on the subject of action management on the Southern Region in calling the L.D.C. representatives together to find a solution to staffing problems caused by the Kent Coast electrification programme. Now that the full details of the agreed “solution” are known, it is difficult to find words to express the very uncomplimentary things that come to mind on the subject.

The modernisation programme of the Southern Region was announces in detail several years ago. Everyone knew then that the extra Motormen needed to overtake electrical duties would first have to be trained for the job. Having been trained, time would have to be spent on acquiring the necessary route knowledge. What was done to ensure that on the day of the inauguration of the new services the Motormen would be there, ready and able to take over their new duties? Not a blessed thing. Now, six months before the event, it’s case of “All hands to the pumps” Special Temporary Training Inspectors working against the clock in an attempt to have the men ready on time; Drivers and Motormen working rest days to cover the work of those to be trained.

No one will criticise the local staff representative for their action in this matter. They, like everyone else on our side, want the new services to get off to a first-class start. At such a time it would be the greatest folly to refuse to help. Our local representatives can only act, on such matters, according to their judgement of the position as it stands. They have a tough job to please everybody. But what is particularly sickening in all this is the eagerness with which the opportunity has been grasped by a section of the men themselves.

Because of the L.D.C. set-up in the London Operating Area, men working on the Central Section - of no use to the management on Eastern Section routes - are booked to work on their rest days even though there is no work for them. This is a position that nobody can begin to justify. Yet here again the staff representatives cannot be faulted.

It is their job to draw up agreements to cover the staff they represent. They cannot be expected to agree something for one section of the men, to the exclusion of the other.

Some while ago, following discussion at a meeting of the B.R. Productivity Council, the trade unions were asked to co-operate in the matter of meeting staffing difficulties. The Railway representatives pointed out that quite often L.D.C.’s would only agree to the working of rest days if all of the staff concerned were to work 100 per cent rest days. This, it was said, was uneconomical  and the unions were asked to do what they could to limit the extent of rest-day working to minimum required to cover the emergency. For our part it was said that while we did not condone the unnecessary working of rest days, the problem of finding a satisfactory solution was not an easy one.

It is one thing for a L.D.C. to agree, say, 75 per cent. or 50 per cent working for all the staff represented. It is an entirely different matter when the management want half the staff to work 100 per cent rest days and the other half none at all. If that lesson hasn’t yet been learned by everyone, we’d better get back to our alphabet and beads again.

As many readers of this page will know, Bro. Bert Howes, who has been my close colleague on the Executive Committee for a number years, has now left the railway service, having failed the eyesight colour vision test, and has accordingly resigned from the E.C.

Bert was a grand worker for the A.S.L.E. & F. and for his comrades on London Transport. His ability and, particularly , his keen cockney wit endeared him to everyone he met - not excluding the members of the London Transport Executive with whom he had so many wordy battles.

Now establishing himself as Mine Host at “The Old Red House” in Battersea, Bert will be pleased to see any of his old colleagues whenever they are in the area, as he wants to keep up to date in all the affairs of the L.T.E. Everyone will join in wishing Bro. Howes every success in his new adventure.

Yet another grand colleague, Bro. Bill Boulton, for many years Secretary and latterly, Chairman of Selhurst Branch, has left our working ranks. Bill retired from railway at the end of December. He is one of those real old-time socialists who never lost faith in the younger men coming along behind. His takes of struggles in the old day could fill a book. Many men, especially those of us who have been fortunate enough to come under his influence and leadership at an early age, will never cease to shout the praises of such a great character. Goodness knows how many letters from Bill have signed of with, “All the best.” And that is just what we wish him now. And for many years to come.

 

     LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

FEBRUARY 1959

In the December Journal mention was made of the view held by many responsible people on both sides, that all is not as it should be on the Southern Region where technical training is concerned.

The hope was there expressed that with the advent of the new school building at Stewarts Lane - and this is something to be seen to believed - some real effort would now be made to revise the whole of the existing training curricula, particularly the programme as affecting the training of men to overtake Electrical duties.

It is most encouraging to learn from Mr. G. A. Weeden, Southern Region Motive Power Officer, that due heed has been taken of the suggestion made in those December notes on the value of calling upon the experience of our Mutual Improvement Class lectures and others who have long been interested in technical training, with a view to bringing about a radical improvement.

Of Mr. Weeden’s intention to tackle this problem with determination there is not the slightest doubt. Staff representatives and Regional Officers - men who have a great deal of practical experience of Improvement Class and Study Group work - have been called together with the object of devising the best possible system of preparing men for the change-over from steam to electric and diesel work.

This is the right approach to a problem that is not easy of solution. Locomotivemen are well known to be very independent characters. On the subject of the right way of perform their normal footplate duties they have very set opinions. Regional and Sectional traditions die hard with us. Men used to a strenuous open-air life do not take kindly to long spells at the classroom desk.

Any Training Inspector will tell you that his is by no means the easiest job in the world. Of itself, a thorough knowledge of the technicalities of the new forms of traction is by no means sufficient; the successful lecturer must know not merely his subject but also his pupil. This is nowhere more true than in Locomen’s circles.

Nor is this just a question of its being difficult to teach an old dog new tricks. A man who has spent many years on the footplate is naturally keen-witted. The Engine Driver who is not quick on the uptake very quickly find himself in trouble; and it is well known that the biggest dullard very soon sharpens up his wits on the railways - by worming his way out of trouble when once he’s in it!

Yes, where steam operation is concerned our men are as adaptable as anyone. It’s just that they don’t take too kindly, at first, to the “deaf and dumb” multiple-unit electric and diesel stock. Strong prejudices must first be broken down.

It is too soon as yet to see any progress on the important matter, but already the Motive Power Officer has earned our real appreciation of his efforts to secure the best possible training system for potential Motormen on the Southern. He can be sure of the fullest co-operation of everyone on the Staff side in the common task of setting ideas to work in this regard.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

MARCH 1959

Regardless of the claims of certain Motormen to the country, it is a plan biological that all Motive Power Superintendents, Shed Masters and Diagrams Clerks are human.

It is only fair, therefore, to conclude that these worthy officers lead some sort of domestic and social life after four o’clock of an afternoon and earlier on Saturdays. Sunday, of course, provides the essential day of rest.

This line of reasoning sets one wondering what would be the reaction of, say, a Shed Master who suddenly informed that he must cancel an urgent appointment with his doctor or dentist for no apparent reason excepting that the responsible for covering supervisory duties failed to cover the work in the proper manner. Most Shed Masters known to us would be more than a little peeved.

Well, now! If Shed Master and their like were protected by rigid agreements in such things - similar to those which afford protection to mere Motormen (see R.S.C. Minutes No. 65 & 514) - any peevishness engendered by the open flouting of such agreements would quickly turn to rebellion. This being the case for Shed Masters, to show some measure of understanding when a Motorman protests at being taken off his rostered turn.

Just a few months ago on this page we dealt with the case of a Motorman who was issued of  a “Crime Sheet” for having the audacity to book on at his rostered signing-on time when the District Office decreed that he must cover some other duty. At the disciplinary interview the Railway Officer, following a very full examination of all circumstances, was compelled to admit that he had no case - the charge was dropped. That, we all hoped, was an end to irregular rostering on the Southern Region - at least for a while.

Unfortunately, the Brighton District Office just will not learn from its past mistakes. Brighton, let it be known, has recently come under what is known as “Entirely New Management.” First reports of the activities of the new D.M.P.S. are not all uncomplimentary. If that gentleman wishes to do himself and everyone else in his District a good turn, he will quickly put a stop to some of the antics of his “advisers” where rostering is concerned.

On the general question of diagramming, your Executive Committee has long been concerned with position on the Southern Region. Daily alterations - “permanent” and temporary - are excessive. The matter was discussed towards the end of last year at Waterloo between our representatives and the Senior Regional Staff Officers and it is to be hoped that a radical improvement will soon be seen on all Sections.

Assurances were given that these alterations are always kept at a bare minimum. At the same time a diagramming expert claimed that certain amendments to duties were necessary from time to time and, although the reasons for yjr changes were not always apparent to the men concerned, they were nevertheless unavoidable.

A few days after this meeting a 29 page Special Notice was issued (No.7. C/MR), showing some 195 duty alterations affecting Monday to Friday workings on the Central Section alone! There were also 73 amendments to duties on a temporary basis in C/MS Notices applying from 3rd to 7th November,  as well as numerous alterations to Saturday workings. This is simply not good enough and it’s nearly time someone took a serious look at diagramming on the Southern Region.

At this meeting the question of roster scrutiny was fully discussed. We complained that too often the diagrams were not available for scrutiny until the last minute. It was also pointed out that conscientious examination of the original rosters is often proved a waste of time due to wholesale amendments sent out a day or two after the official scrutiny.

The reply was given tat all workings now go out from the Diagram Section at least two or three weeks before their operative date. Shed Masters are to be instructed to make copies available to roster scrutineers immediately up receipt. Our local representative can be relied upon to keep a sharp check on the fulfilment of this promise.

Every aspect of diagramming was freely discussed at this meeting there can be no doubt that the Management at top level is sincere in its intention to improve matters. Whether this sincerely will percolate right down the line to District Office level remains to be seen.....

Here is just one short - but very important quote from the official minutes of the meeting:-

“The allegation of the Trade Union representatives that the Diagram Office is deliberately rostering men for eight hours with object of offsetting mileage payment accruing from main line work was refuted by the Management, but an undertaking was given to investigate any specific cases to which attention is directed.”

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

APRIL 1959

There is far too much of what is commonly call wed “suffering in silence” among Motormen. This is a condition brought about not, as might be imagined, through some sort of Spartan heroics by the men concerned, but by sheer slackness. In some cases this amounts to downright laziness. And let it hastily be added that the writer admits to being quite as guilty in this as anyone else.

Consider the business of reporting small defects. Window-wipers that don’t work; faulty window drop-lights; doors that need a strong shoulder or heavy boot to open; draughty cabs; leaky window-frames - and all the other inconveniences that we suffer daily on the job. In the main it is only the men stationed at the maintenance depot who take the trouble to properly record such defects. Yet Train Defect Sheets are available at al terminal points where Foreman are stationed.

Men at outstations seem to hold the well-known type of naval philosophy that runs: “I have managed to get through the day’s work despite this particular inconvenience. Now, Jack, you too can have a go.” There are, of course, many honourable exceptions in this. But most Motormen who read this page will know only too well what is meant - and whether it applies in their case.

Some well-meaning souls will argue that they’ve been jogging alone quite nicely, thank you, for many years without joining the sharp-pencil brigade. In present day circumstances, that is a dangerous attitude of mind.

In the cases catalogued above, perhaps things are particularly serious. But there are seemingly small items that get by unreported which could easily could easily become all-important to someone.

Take the example of the Driver of a multiple-unit train who came to grief not so long ago when making an attachment in a station platform. his job was the comparatively simple one of emerging from a tunnel and attaching his train to another stationary unit. He had done the job many times before without difficulty, but on this occasion the tunnel was filled with smoke from a passing steam train. He handled his train in the normal way but, because he had no means of judging the density of the smoke and because of the effect of this upon his judgement of speed, he was out of the tunnel before he knew it - and into the back of the stationary portion. He awoke in an ambulance.

Any layman should know that it is extremely dangerous to approach a stationary train in a station platform for the purpose of attaching with passengers in both portions if the movement entails groping one’s way through a smog-filled tunnel. Yet this must happen quite often at such places.

To the men who perform such work there is, I submit, an additional and totally unnecessary strain in these circumstances. A warning light at the exit of the tunnel would be a great assistance to Drivers. Rail safety has become a real talking-point in places far removed from mess-rooms and trade union branch rooms of recent months. now is the time to faithfully report anything that appears to threaten the high level of safety on British Railways. It does not follow because men have had to put with all manner of inconveniences for years, that we should continue to make hard work of the most simple tasks. A little more effort in this business of submitting reports can make all the difference.

Let us welcome the letter published in the February Journal from Motorman Gordon Knight of Littlehampton. Strong complaint is made about a “monstrosity” shortly to be thrust upon him in the shape of a new Motorman’s Ticket. Bro. Knight points out that he has no watch, no desk at which to write, no free hand, no note-book and no time for answering what he describes as “the twenty-solar question” - actual departure times.

Now it happens, in this case, that the Trade Unions were given an opportunity to comment on the matter before this ticket was finally approved. All the points raised by Bro. Knight, together with a few that he didn’t mention,were put to the Management by our representatives at a meeting held at Marylebone on 7th January last.

The Commission’s representatives explained that the new ticket had been evolved after consultation with all Regions and with the Accountants. The changes from existing Southern Region ticket were considered necessary in order to facilitate paybill work which has been affected by office mechanisation. Mileage calculation is an important feature. The management claimed that the information required on the ticket is much the same as that needed in the past.

From our side it was said that the quick turn-round at terminal points allowed Motormen no time for entering additional details and the general suitability of the form was questioned. It was agreed that if any difficulty was experienced by Motormen in completing the form, special consideration would be given locally to any cases of the type mentioned. L.D.C. representatives will take due note...

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

MAY 1959

The 1959 Annual Assembly of Delegates will commence on Tuesday, 5th May, in Blackpool. Almost without exception in the years that have passed since the war, we have heard the claim: “Without doubt, this is the most important Conference of recent years.” The forthcoming Assembly in Blackpool will certainly not provide any exception. Indeed, a study of the Agenda of Suggestions and a glance at the list of extremely experienced delegates indicates that the year 1959 will mark off another important milestone in the history of the Society.

Looking back through the A.A.D. Reports of the past 15 years and remembering the vast chafes that have taken place in every aspect of our day-to-day job, one can only marvel at the tenacious ability of our representatives at all levels in securing the best possible agreements on the one hand, whilst averting the worst possible disasters on the other.

It has been said of the Railway industry, many times, that we stagger from one crisis to another. This neither the time nor the place to speak in defence of the Railway Management; but so far as the Railway Unions are concerned there can be no question that, despite the critical times in which we move, each crisis has been faced with determination and the future very carefully planned. This “staggering” charge simply doesn’t stick; and the records prove the point.

Why is it then, that each Annual Conference appears to outdo the last in presenting more and more pressing problems for our membership? Why in these days of Joint Consultation and supposedly improved negotiating machinery, cannot an attempt be made to tie up all our worries into a neat parcel - and settle things with the Management, once and for all?

The answer to that straight question is simple enough; but the final solution to all our problems is very much more tricky.

It takes two sides to make an agreement. Even though one may be generous enough to grant that all the top-level representatives of the British Transport Commission are as sincere as we are in the “common desire” to put the Railways back on their feet, there remains a serious doubt as to the intentions of those people who really control the finances of British Transport.

The problem is, of course, entirely political. In a situation where the profit-making sectors of the transport industry are more and more being divorced from the Railways (which, with all the goodwill in the world, can never hope to pay their way under existing conditions) we cannot expect to solve such issues as the Wages Structure, the Shorter Working Week, Improved Annual Leave, etc., all of which call for considerable withdrawals from a non-existent “kitty.”

It is well remembered that no matter what “economies” we may work to effect, no matter how much additional productivity is achieved, we can never hope to do more than pay for all the improved service that may flow from Modernisation. It is entirely unreasonable to suppose that we can ever provide from our own labours sufficient to meet the cost of improved pay and working conditions for Railway staff while, at the same time, huge profits are being drained from transport by private enterprise.

A Labour Government promises a fully integrated system of road and rail transport. It is surely in the interests of all railway employees to work doubly hard in the coming months to ensure the total defeat of the Tories at the polls in the next Election. We must see to it that the past bungling in transport is swept aside and replaced by Labour’s planned system. Until that time, we cannot hope for a speedy end to our many difficulties.

With Railway rates of pay always at the bottom of the industrial scale it is not surprising that suggestions for increasing wages of Footplate staff have taken pride of place - numerically at least - among the agenda items at the Annual Conferences. This year, however, the popular demand for a shorter working week has elbowed its way to top place. No. 1 in the “Hit Parade” if you like - and with good reason.

This is not to say everyone is happy on the wages question, though it would be true to say that my visits to Electrical Branches in the past three months reveal considerable faith in the ultimate conclusions of the current Pay Review.

Motormen generally, are well aware that the real “take-home” pay of Footplatemen varies considerably from Region to Region, and even from Depot to Depot. It is appreciated that men whose “extras” are practically non-existent are becoming impatient with the seeming delay in the conduct of the Pay Review.

In circulars to the Branches, in reports to District Council and elsewhere, Society policy on wages has been made abundantly clear. Up-to-the-minute news on activities of the various Railway Committees is Number 1 priority for Executive Committee Members in their reports to Branches. It should be obvious to all who bother with the FACTS that no time is being lost in arriving at a final settlement.

In any case, the 1959 A.A.D. will have the final word on both these important matters and the outcome will be closely watched by our people everywhere.

Other items of great interest concern: Suggested amendments to the Promotion and Redundancy Arrangements; the question of manning the new forms of traction; qualifications of the second man where provided; payment of lodging allowances; route knowledge; Work Study; travelling facilities; uniform clothing; the working of rest days; pensions; the financial position of the Railway industry; and last, but no means least. the withdrawal of services on railways.

This adds up to pretty formidable agenda. It’s a safe bet that in the weeks that follow the Conference the messroom will hum with rumours of all manner of “new agreements.”There is only one way of keeping abreast of developments following the decisions taken in Blackpool this month. Better look up the date of the next Branch meeting...

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JUNE 1959


BLACKPOOL, MAY 1959

These notes come to you direct from the Annual Assembly of Delegates which, for the past eight days, has been giving consideration to items submitted by the Branches and included in the Conference Agenda.

The Executive Committee has, covered many important matters concerning the industrial and political future of each one of our members. The progress of such items as Wages, Modernisation, Manning, Training, etc., etc., has been reported to the assembled delegates. Decisions of great importance have been taken - particularly in respect of the items submitted by the Branches.

There have been many lively sessions, many sober moments and, just occasionally, those more jocular and lighthearted phases that relieve the general tension of all conferences of this importance.

Delegates appear to have mixed feelings as to the standard debate here. Some of the more experienced claim that they have seen better Conferences in the past. Others think the standard has been as high as usual.

Among the younger delegates we have heard the usual complaint that Conference procedure has been very confusing - particularly during the first few days. Nevertheless, the point of view of the younger fraternity has found adequate expression on the floor of Conference and there can be little doubt that those youngsters present will make their mark in the affairs of the Society in the years to come.

One thing is certain, Bro. Sam Auty of Royston has shown, as indeed he was expected to show, that he possesses all the qualities that go to make a first-class Chairman. His handling of Conference, his shrewd Yorkshire wit and judgement, have been a feature throughout - and Sam has held the esteem of all concerned from the very start.

The two Motormen’s representatives have had an unusually large number of difficult problems to contend with and, although in some cases they have been very disappointed with results; their efforts on behalf of the Branches they represent have been altogether praiseworthy and it is certain that our Electrical Branches will applaud their work here in Blackpool.

The most pleasing feature of the Conference is that, regardless of personal hopes, successes and disappointments, there has been no show of bombast or of resentment at the decisions. Les Hancock of Leystone and Ted Tinsley of Orpington have not had easy Conference. But both are fully deserving of the gratitude of every one of us for the job of work they have done.

-  -  -  -  -  - 

The opening of the electrified lines to the Kent Coast and the new services to the coast towns will take place on 15th June, 1959.

In the recent past, as been mentioned earlier on this page, the Eastern sector of the Southern Region has been the scene of feverish activity; many men have received Electrical training; practical train-running experience has been gained by many new recruits to the ever-swelling ranks of motormen throughout the area.

These new colleagues will be welcomed by all established motormen in the district. Quite a few of these men are drivers of many years standing. Electrical duties are much different from the old steam work. No matter what may be said to the contrary by outsiders, the very fact of single manning has some psychological effect on the best of us when, for the first time, we “take on” without a mate.

We have said many times on this page that there is far more to driving the fast-moving, quick-accelerating, new forms of traction than appears on the surface. Added concentration is necessary; speeds require some new judgement (there is a vast difference in the judgement of when sitting immediately over the running rail); many new features have to be taken into account; headaches, at first, are not uncommon.


*  *  *  *  *  *

Next month, perhaps, we can have a word on the subject of some of the more important decisions taken at the Blackpool Conference

 

    LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

JANUARY 1960

During the past twelve months it has been my privilege to attend meetings at many branches. Without exception our local branch officers have been good enough to say afterwards that the reports given of Executive committee activity have created quite a bit of interest among our membership.

It is a good thing to start people talking. Too many Weeping Willies in the mess-rooms think they know it all. Tales of alarm and despondency are much easier to spread than are true facts. Fiction has no place in the serious times that lie ahead.Only the man who attends his branch regularly can possibly be in possession of the facts. Only he can have any knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes.

Success in trade union negotiations appear to be tied to some law of “ebb and flow” which permits of a spate of gains here, with a period of seeming doldrums there. It can be said, for example, that 1956 was a year of considerable advancement for the footplate fraternity: a substantial increase in wages, the Sick Pay Scheme, Continental travel facilities, the enhancement for Saturday-afternoon work, payment when travelling passenger before mileage, additional days in lieu of Bank Holidays, improved allowances for Leading Motormen, important amendments to the P.T.R. Arrangement brought firm assurances on the 30-minute P.N. break excluding walking times. It also brought recognition of the full responsibilities of our calling - particularly during the hours of darkness and where excessive mileage is involved. The Amplified Redundancy Arrangements, too, are recognised as a step in the right direction.

So, although the past twelve months may appear to have been comparatively passive, much though and hard work have gone into negotiations on may fronts. Those members who have taken the trouble to go along to branch meetings readily acknowledge the vigilance and unceasing effort needed in the constant struggle for better pay and improved conditions of employment for men within the footplate grades.

Without claiming to be another “Old Moore,” I confidently prophesy that this year of 1960 will bring many success. Without more than a glance at the current Pay Review - which MUST mean more £.s.d. for our people - just look at a few of the other important matters which have been under discussion during the so-called “doldrums” of the past year:

On Rail Safety: Great strides forward in providing Automatic Warning System equipment on all Regions. The setting-up of a National Joint Committee on Safety on which we have top-level representation. Discussions on items like the extension of Double Block Working  and the provision of Marker Lights at specified signals during fog.

Promotion, Transfer and Redundancy: Discussion have been going on for some while on the subject of redundancy, etc., with the object of providing wider coverage for men who become surplus to depot requirements. For a long while, too, we have waited for the Commission’s replies


to be completed

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

FEBRUARY 1960

Just for a change this month, let’s leave the surface for a while and take peep below ground. In recent months I’ve had the opportunity to get around to a number of our London Transport Branches. On occasions, I have been accompanied on these visits by colleagues from the Southern Region who have been impressed by the lively interest taken in Society affairs by our members “Below The Surface.”

Men in the Line of Promotion to motorman on London Transport face a set of workaday circumstances very different from those of their colleagues on the main lines.

The negotiating machinery is very different, The disciplinary code on the L.T.E., with its formal Disciplinary Board, is rather more rigid. Working conditions may be comparable (thanks to the constant vigilance of our active Officers within L.T.E. Branches, and to the policy of A.S.L.E. & F. down through the years) but there are many wide differences.

Recently there has been a good deal of interest shown, mutually with Southern Region Motormen and L.T.E. members, in the affairs of Electrical Branches. Joint meetings of Branches have been held from time to time and in this way there has been a most useful exchange of views. This is a good augury for the future.

One items gives joint concern. This, of course, the problem now peculiar to all trade unions. MEMBERSHIP AT BRANCH MEETINGS. Short of following the current American practice of staging TV union sessions, one wonders what can be done to attract more members to the monthly meeting.

We have proved, down South, as was explained on this page last month, that when anything very serious is afoot our members come flocking in. But too many are content to let “the Few” get on with things.

Certainly it has been proved that the hard core of our Branch membership, the regular attenders, can competently cope with all Society and local issues. Reports from Trade Councils, Labour Party meetings, etc., are of the highest standard. The level of discussion inside the Branches, whether B.R. or L.T.E., I have found to be first-class.

But if just a few more of the regular attenders would make the effort to encourage others to come along to the meetings - chiefly by spreading the “gospel” around the mess rooms - attendances would soon take a sharp rise.

Some few moths back, sticking my neck out, I claimed that 1960 would prove a momentous year for this Organisation, and listed a number of very important issues currently under discussion within the Negotiation machinery in support of this contention.

It is quite impossible to get the best out of any form of leadership, no matter how conscientious the leaders may be, if the rank-and-file fails to take an active part in fashioning the future. The next few years are absolutely vital to Footplatemen and Motormen. Surely there is no real need to emphasise the urgency of this matter?

There has been a lot of claptrap lately about the”evils” of modern trade unionism. One film like The Angry Silence can do more harm to honest, decent unionism than any management could ever do - or, for the matter, ever wish to attempt. The Chairman of the B.T.C. has expressed the official view of his colleagues on the subject of railway trade unionism and it is good to know that relations here are as everyone would wish them to be.

It is for us NOW to make sure that our brand of unionism is as free, democratic, progressive and militant as it possibly can be. Our Society is already hailed as an example of what is best in democratic unionism.

But we can only be certain that the mechanics of democracy produce the results we seek if we all take an active part in formulating policy, encouraging the maximum membership and exacting the best possible service from our leadership.

How about it? The future is in your hands. Make up your mind now to get along to the next Branch meeting. Try to organise exchange visits as between the L.T.E. and B.R. Branches. This way we can learn a lot more about our mutual problems than ever before. The effort would prove well worth while.


to be completed

 

 LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

MARCH 1960

Down at Paignton, as these notes are penned, sixty delegates are grappling with the hefty agenda of our Annual Conference. More than 30 subjects are contained in the Executive Committee’s Report to the Assembly. These range from the up-to-the-minute news on wages, the 40 hour week, promotion, transfer, and redundancy, to items of lesser importance such as uniform clothing, allowances, etc.

On the Agenda there are over 70 rule amendments; well over 100 items submitted by our Branches - as well as a number of Appeals and all the usual preliminaries of a large-scale conference.

What a year it has been since the Blackpool A.A.D.! In the twelve months that have passed scores of items have received the attention of the Executive Committee. Naturally the top priority has been the wages issue, and the mass negotiations flowing from the Guillebaud Report has kept our representatives busy enough. but consider also the many matters requiring attention. Domestic affairs (we have our problems, too!); problems of organisation, often aggravated by staffing shortages in some areas - and by redundancy in others; Regional matters submitted by Branches, Local Departmental Committees or Sectional Councils for advice or further consideration at headquarters. Some of these items are quite simply disposed of/ others present knotty problems. Taken in the mass they spell HEADACHE for the General Secretary and his executive.

Then there are other very important issues in various stages of negotiation. The shorter working week; recruitment and training of footplate staff; proposals on the wearing of glasses at the eyesight tests and on duty; lodging turns of duty; preparing and disposal allowances for new forms of traction; allowances when training for diesel or electric work; pensions - these are but a few examples of many matters of vital importance dealt with between Conferences by your representatives.

The delegates at Paignton meet at a time when nt a few of these matters have reached near-finality. Grave decisions will be taken. The Conference Agenda promises another full flush of work for the E.C. in the year to follow. There is no let-up. not a single little thing is allowed to slip through the net when our Branches are preparing items for the Conference Agenda. If something is forgotten in one part of the country, you can bet your life it’ll be well remembered elsewhere!

In this way, every facet of our daily work is covered. Social and political matters are discussed. The “platform” come in for the real treatment at the hands of the delegates. Not all such annual conferences are run on such democratic lines and it is something for every A.S.L.E. & F. man to be proud of that there is positively no bar on discussion of any matter which has the remotest bearing on the daily lives of locomen and their families - the sky’s the limit where the Agenda is concerned.

We are now in a period of transition. I remain convinced the year 1960 will mark the turning-point in the fortunes of our fraternity in particular, and in the railway industry as a whole. We have had our disappointments, goodness knows.

There may well be others to follow. But MODERNISATION on the railways means more responsibility for the men at the Front End. Faster and heavier trains, quicker acceleration, speed-control signalling - all these things add up to more and more strain on (usually) the lone man up-front. No one has the right to expect our people to shoulder this sort of responsibility on cut-price rates.

The delegates to our 1960 Annual Assembly can be relied upon to shape Society policy on the right lines for the following twelve months, after which the General Secretary and the Executive Committee will continue a square deal for all locomotive men.

 

  LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

APRIL 1960

Let’s talk about footplate discipline. These are supposed to be the days of enlightenment. In industry, particularly, we hear constantly of the great efforts of both management and men to get to know each other’s problems. Workers’ participation in the management of industry, even within a capitalist society, is becoming more and more fashionable. Even in the United States the most flourishing sectors of industry are those in which the trade unions are the strongest. In other words, there is a lot to be gained on both sides if the workers are encouraged to play their part in the running of their job.

This is the modern trend. Any management with a grain of common sense all, at least, make the effort to move with the times. There should be far less of the old-fashioned “Iron Hand” in the boss’s dealings with his staff. How forward-looking, in this sense, is the current management of British Railways?

Since the “decentralisation” carve-up, each Region has become almost totally autonomous. Generalisations are not, therefore, particularly helpful. but on this question of discipline one can, at least speak from personal experiences - in this case restricted to four of the six Regions.

It must be said at the outset that a majority of the people we meet on the opposite side of the table are quite tolerant of the points of views we express to them in defence of our members when in trouble. On the Southern Region in particular we have a number of Motive Power officers who pay serious regard to establishing decent relations on all with the staff. In matters of discipline we can at least anticipate a considered hearing of our case, with some measure of enlightened regard for the ordinary human fallibilities of the unfortunate individual in the dock. But one experience, this time outside the Southern Region, gives cause for thought.

There was a time when trade union advocates argued matters of discipline, often involving tricky technical points, with Shed Masters who at least knew what they were talking about. They were aware, that is to say, of the difference between a wheel and a whistle.

In such circumstances t was just bearable to listen to the ham-handed efforts of someone on the other side meting out “justice.” But when these people adopt the role of the High Court Judge, inflicting punishment on experienced footplatemen who have probably forgotten more about railway work than they will ever learn, one feels just a little bit sick at heart.

And it is, unfortunately, try that occasionally we meet someone who just hasn’t a clue about modern industrial psychology. Consider the technique of such an inquisitor.

First you subject the “criminal” and his advocate to ten minutes of the “Silent Treatment” while you go through the motions of reading a file of papers on the desk before you. Out of the corner of your eye you watch the victim as he sits twiddling his hat round and round in his hands, deafened by the crashing silence. You note that the advocate is doing his best to look important as though he’s got all the time in the world.

Then the fun begins. When the advocate is beginning to get into the swing of things, make an astute interjection. Don’t let him make his case; he might find some weakness in your own if you do! Keep up a flow interrupt. The atmosphere is bound to become a bit strained but if you find your efforts to put the advocate off his stroke are meeting with little success, produce an ace. This consists of making yourself look really important, lowering your voice and remarking as casually as you can that whatever arguments are adduced, you have no intention whatever of reducing the punishment.

This designed (a), to invite the advocate to pick up his bag and walk out - in which case victory is yours at once; or (b), to start an argument on the value of the disciplinary machinery as a matter of principle, in which case you have at least saved yourself a lot of bother with the details of the actual case before you.

If things get really sticky there is one line of action that never been known to fail. you merely wait for the man’s representative to make some comment on the danger of embittering the man against the management if he feels himself to be unjustly dealt with. Jump in with both feet and say, loudly, that if the doesn’t like it HE CAN LEAVE THE SERVICE. This is a sure-fire winner.

This is no fiction. It was experienced recently at a Regional Headquarters at an Appeal Stage hearing. Not, mark you, just the blundering of a local Shed Master, but the considered attitude of a Motive Power Office. And it simpy isn’t good enough.

It is not part of our function, unfortunately, at this point in history, to tell the management how to select people for top office. But if anyone thinks he can get away with this sort of swaggering pomposity and plain boorish bullying for very long, then there’s a rude awakening just around the corner. 

 

  LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

MAY 1960

Lady Chatterly, so I believe, had her problems. With Santa Claus already stocking up his sleigh in readiness for the annual race around the chimney-pots it is reasonable to suppose that a few of our lads will spend a bit of their leisure time by the old yule-log fire, engrossed in the page of their brand-new 3s. 6d. unexpurgated copy of Lawrence’s masterpiece.

Many of the widely discussed four-letter words of Anglo-Saxon origin contained in this work will already be familiar to people who for the past six months have been struggling to understand the many complex problems raised by another well-known author, Mr. C.W. Guillebaud, in his famous commentary on railway wages and conditions of employment.

Indeed, had our people the same gift of authorship as D.H. Lawrence, many novels depicting life among Footplatemen would now be flooding the nation’s book-shops and libraries. Their vocabularies would be so colourful as to make the fair Lady Chatterly sen like a down-at-heel old hag by comparison.

If “bad” language is to be lauded as some sort of yardstick with which to evaluate art, then not a few of our members are entitled to lay claim to the Lawrences, Constables and Epsteins of this day and age.

One of the many claims to fame of the Three Wise Men of the Railway Pay Committee of Inquiry was their recommendation to reduce the colossal number of different wage-groups to a mere fourteen.

Now we find ourselves with just NINE different rates of pay for Drivers instead of the three under the scheme so roundly condemned by Guillebaud. Currently we are wrestling with problems of such diversity and complexity arising from the Report that some of us are beginning to wonder whether some clear-thinking logic should not now be applied to the task of clearing away the morass.

No wonder the bad language! One hopes, fervently, that the afore-mentioned Wise Men sleep soundly in their beds now that their long job of work is done. Few Executive Committee Members do - and that’s for sure.

Lest some unthinking soul should take this comment as being nothing more that carping criticism of the outcome of more than two years of patient waiting, let it be said straight away that criticism is no more intended here than it would be warranted in the circumstance. It goes without saying that we were all duly appreciative of the efforts of our General Secretary and E.C. President, both of whom have shoulders the major share of the work and have thus suffered more than any man’s fair share of the headaches. So let us not be misunderstood.

Nonetheless, we should be sadly misleading many people if we now did anything which might be construed as preparedness to rest on well-won laurels. We are far too conscious of the troublous times ahead. Th E.C. President listed a number of our problems in his notes last month. Again, in this issue on another page, he makes reference to serious political influences which do nothing to minimise the stern task confronting the three Railway Unions.

As each year passes we look at our achievements and quite frankly we wonder whether there will ever be a break in this constant welter of heavy negotiation. As soon as one “major” issue is cleared away, along comes something weighted to take its place. P.T.&R. problems give way to arguments on theState Pension Scheme. Here it is the closure of Branch Lines; there the little matter of Guillebaud. The future Line of Promotion; the introduction of more and more electrification schemes; the right of our men to wear visual aids - and so, it seems, ad infinitum.

I t would do some of our Barrack-Room Barrister good once in a while to sit down and ponder the achievements of the immediate past. A couple of hours browsing through the quarterly E.C. Minutes would give a little indication of the work currently in hand. Only a complete moron would then deny that someone must be labouring at top pressure at Head Office.

Brickbats are ten-a-penny. Bouquest? Yes, these are handed out occasionally by our Branches - in just sufficient quantities to make it all seem worthwhile. But, Brother, this is a rugged existence. Really rugged.

There are occasions when speed, just for speed’s sake, could lead to disaster - and there is no more meticulous a body than a trade union executive confronted with some weighty national problem when it comes to an examination of all the facts.

 

   LOCOMOTIVE JOURNAL

NOVEMBER 1960

Now that most of the problem arising from the lengthy negotiations on ages have been settles perhaps we can take time off to consider the vast amount of work undertaken by our representative from the time of setting up of the Guilebaud Committee of Inquiry on the main lines.

A good many of the difficulties of these negotiations have been outlined on this page in the past. But the real headache began when we got down to the task of applying Guilebaud to stuff employed on London Transport.

Not unnaturally most of the heavy work throughout this piece has been undertaken by the General Secretary, Bill Evans, and the E.C. President, Jack Simons. We all had some worrying moments at the beginning of the year. At one stage we were informed that what happened on the main lines had very little to do with staff employed by the L.T.E. It was pointed out that in a good many cases L.T.E. rates were quite a bit better than hose on British Railways anyway!

These matters, looking backward, seem quite irrelevant now. But at the time they were the cause of a good deal hard-swearing around the negotiating table.

Some people have been critical. Criticism is something that good trade unionist learn to wear - like an overcoat. Many of us have enough such garments to stock a fair sized wardrobe! But it is a fact that the majority of our membership recognise that “Guilliebaud “ has produced the highest wages increase in our history; only a relative handful have been really critical of the efforts of our negotiators. 

Visits to London Transport Branches have proved that our members are fair in their criticism - and, indeed, have thought it right on occasions to hand out a few bouquets.....! We know quite well that there is still plenty room for improvement in many directions and to make sure that wages maintain their value. And if ever anyone should feel like slackening their efforts in high places, our rank-and-file membership in the Branches on the London Transport can be relied upon to jerk them into action again through the medium of the Annual Assembly of Delegates.

Talking of annual conferences, Ted Miles of West Brompton Branch has completed his tour of reports on his experiences at Paignton earlier this year. His reports have been stimulating and most enlightening to our membership. Ted played a prominent part in shaping of Society policy at Paignton - and not merely with matters affecting London Transport only! He is a great lad with a real old time Cockney personality. I know of no one more proud of the fact that he was born within the sound of Bow Bells. (This is said with knowledge of the acute sense of hearing of most Londoners when defining what constitutes a real Cockney!!) Ted is still young enough to make his mark in the history of this Society. And he gives most of the credit to his training through the National Council of Labour Colleges - of which he has been a student for many years.

And that reminds me. Does every young member on the L.T.E. realise that courses withe N.C.L.C. are free to our membership? Study courses which would cost something like five guineas with a commercial college are perfectly free - and twice as useful to lads intending to work within the Labour Movement. Branch Secretaries will be doing our youngsters a good service if they explain fully the advantages of studying under the N.C.L.C.

Bro. Fank Crook, long time Secretary of West London Electric Branch, has retired from the railway service.

In giving consideration to his long record of service to the Society, your Executive Committee said, in E.C. Resolution 748/250:

“We place on record our sincere appreciation of the sterling service rendered by Bro, to the Society and the Trade Union Movement, and in recognition of his dedication to Trade Union we instruct the General Secretary to make available an E.C. Diploma and also a copy “The Lighted Flame,” suitably inscribed and autographed by the Chief Officers of the Society members of this Executive Committee.”

We shall be seeing Frank next month at the Reunion of the London District Council, when we can express our appreciation more fully.  

 

 

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