IGNITING THE FLAME OF UNITY

THE HISTORY OF THE

 BRIGHTON BRANCH OF A.S.L.E.F.

 

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Brothers in Unity for Mutual help 

 

 This page covers the 1911 national railway strike and the events that took place afterwards

 

THE FIRST OFFICIAL

RAILWAY STRIKE 1911

 

Between 1910 and the start of First World War in 1914, the trade union movement started to take momentum, with the trade unions wanting their employers to recognise their existence, along with demands for better pay and working conditions for their members. 

In July and early August 1911, railway workers in various parts of the country, dissatisfied with the working of conciliation boards, unofficially went on strike. In the railway worker’s minds, the conciliation boards had been ineffective at raising wages and reducing hours, as the railway companies had found ways around the awards. Indeed, many of the railway workers had nicknamed them ‘confiscation boards.’ The root cause was because groups of railway employees, particularly in the North West, were inspired by two recent large and successful strikes that occurred amongst dock and shipping workers. ‘As workers in other industries began to strike and to secure some advances, so railwaymen became even more impatient about the conciliation scheme.’

Some of the first strikes were among Midland Railway workers who unofficially came out on in early August demanding increased pay and shorter hours. However, the action that had started in Liverpool soon spread toManchester and other parts of the north and midlands, as well as other railway companies such as the London and North Western and Great Central railways. The interaction between workers of different railway companies allowed these unofficial actions to spread. Approximately 50,000 railway workers in Britain were on strike before union leaders got involved.

On the 15th August in Liverpool, around which the storm was now blowing, between 40 and 50 delegates from four of the five railway unions met. The delegates came from the Association of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (A.S.L.E.F.), The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants (A.S.R.S.), the General Railway Workers Union (G.R.W.U.) and the United Pointsmen and Signalmen's Society (U.P.S.S.). Only missing, were representatives of the Railway Clerk’s Association (R.C.A. (T.S.S.A.). The first resolution they passed laid out their issues with the conciliation scheme: - 

 ‘We hereby declare that this unfortunate condition of affairs has been created largely by the vexatious attitude of many of the railway companies towards the working of the scheme of conciliation and arbitration, agreed to in 1907 by the Board of Trade and the railway companies and this society (The Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants).’

The delegates then issued an ultimatum, and agreed:

‘…to offer the railway companies twenty-four hours to decide whether they are prepared to immediately meet the representatives of these societies to negotiate a basis of settlement of the matters in dispute affecting the various grades.’

 Nervous about the country shutting down, and keen to avoid a strike, the government stepped in. Firstly, the Prime Minster Herbert Asquith invited a number of railway managers to a meeting to discuss the issues, assuring them that they would be given all the support necessary to continue services as normal. Indeed, Asquith declared that he would ‘use all the civil and military forces at his disposal’ to make this happen. This was followed by a meeting between representatives of the Board of Trade and union officials, at which the latter laid out their grievances. Firstly, there was the long-standing complaint over the conciliation scheme, but they also demanded recognition by the railway companies. In essence, the unions had used the situation, which had not been created by them, to push this second agenda.

The suggestion proffered by Asquith was the formation of a Royal Commission to investigate the workings of the conciliation scheme. The unions, worried about how long the commission would take to report and the fact that there was no guarantee that they would be recognised, rejected this offer. Thus, on the evening of the 17th August 1911, the railway unions issued a historic telegram was sent out to 2,000 railway centres across the country

"Your liberty is at stake. All railwaymen must strike at once. The loyalty of each means victory for all.”

It was signed by the general secretaries of the four unions. The first national rail strike was on and it was obeyed across the length and breadth of the country, the government and railway management’s worst fears were realised.

The thousands of men on strike were promptly joined by many thousands more. In response, and with a view to keeping its promise, the government deployed 58,000 troops across the network at key points, such as junctions, stations and signal boxes.

The South Eastern Railway officials stated that their men are loyal and only 50 men had come out, and a full service was being maintained. 

On the London and South Western Railway only two members of the staff went on strike, engine drivers and firemen met on Friday at Eastleigh near Southampton, and favoured postponing any action as present, notification being expressed at the manner in which the Directors had always treated them. The Executive will meet again on tomorrow to consider the situation. 

The trains on the L.S.W.R. were running on time, highlighting the fact that in many cases strike action was about localised disputes, rather than nation-wide injustices in employee pay and conditions.

Further, it emphasised that union leadership had, not unreasonably, hijacked the unofficial strikes to make a bid for recognition in the eyes of the railway company managers Recognition came, in a non-official sense, on the 19th August when for the first time the government brought together round the same table union officials and railway managers. Shortly after, the unions instructed their members and all others on strike, to return to work. The unions also accepted Asquith’s proposed Royal Commission to look at the conciliation scheme. In truth, nothing much had changed and the unions had basically accepted the scheme offered on the 17th August. Thus, this suggests that they wished to show the government and railway companies what they were capable of.

MANIFESTO TO THE MEN


The members of the Executive committees of the four railwaymen's society issued the following manifesto to throughout the country on Friday morning of the 18th August at 1.20 a.m.

Had the companies met the representatives of the men, the present position would have been saved. The companies arrogantly refused this, and by so doing denied the railway workers of this country what has been conceded to every other class of worker. As the men throughout the United kingdom have shown their unchangeable determination not to tolerate this state of affairs any longer, we call upon every railwayman to join his fellows, and so strike a united blow for deliverance from petty tyraony: and also help to obtain higher wages, shorter hours and a more humane life for all.


 

 The strike of 1911 was a vital step towards railway companies acknowledging the existence and place of the unions within the industry. In truth, nothing much had changed, however, the unions had demonstrated their strength to act and the railway companies and government could no longer just fob them off with ad hoc arrangements and a lack of recognition.

The strike may not have been very well supported in the Southern part of the country and was mainly supported in the major industrial towns and cities in the north of England and South Wales. With such a variation in regional pay and working conditions, indicates that railwaymen and particularly Enginemen and Firemen in the south and east of England had in comparison to their counterparts in the north of England and South WalesBut due to the successful outcome of the strike. This meant that A.S.L.E.F. (along with other railway unions) finally got recognition it deserved  within the various railway companies throughout the country.

The strike didn’t last long, and only about 200,000 of the country’s 600,000 railway workers struck.

 

 

The Locomotive Journal

September 1911

page 417.

THE GREAT RAILWAY STRIKE.

Railwaymen are not used to striking neither does the general public expect them to strike, in fact they are looked upon as public property to be used only in the public service—and as such they have been used It is true there has, in times past, been one or two strikes on individual companies but never have we before had a national strike which affected all companies There is always a cause before an effect, and on this occasion there can be no doubt there was a cause, for there were already thousands of railwaymen on strike before the trade unions declared a general strike The reason that 50,000 men struck regardless of their organizations and the advice given by their Executive officer's, can only be that the treatment which the men were receiving could no longer be endured and if further proof was needed the very fact that the majority of the railway servants spend their lifetime in the service provides that proof Nay, it even goes further: it proves that the men generally cannot be such very bad servants or they would not be allowed to remain in the service for such a great number of years Now the position that the trade unions and the leaders and officers were faced with was that all those thousands of men had lost their situations some had struck others had been discharged others refused to do their work and so forth and many thousands more would have joined them m sympathy and the problem that the trade union leaders were confronted with was how to get those men reinstated and to prevent others from ceasing work It was felt that it was absolutely necessary that the railway companies should meet the trade union officials and we were satisfied that no real reason could be put forward by the railway companies for refusing to meet them, and, as a matter of fact, so soon at as they did meet them a means of arriving at a settlement was found, and it is only fair to say that had the request been conceded and a meeting have taken place before the strike occurred, that it would not have been necessary for the strike to have occurred Not only so, but when the meeting did take place we were able to prove that the whole of the men who were out, either m sympathy with their fellows or otherwise, were entitled to be taken back , that they were taken back by agreement on both sides proves the justice of the demands of the trade union leaders and the response that was made by the men on so short notice to the request to come out on strike, as the only method of convincing the railway companies that there was something really wrong and that the men were determined to have redress, must convince the most sceptical that the men's cause was a just one After a brief but magnificent struggle a settlement has been arrived at between the representatives of the workers and the railway companies, as follows .— 

TERMS OF SETTLEMENT OF THE

RAILWAY DISPUTE

 

DEAR SIRS

We have pleasure in sending you herewith the text of the settlement arrived at between the Board of Trade your representatives and ilie representatives of the railway companies yesterday —-Signed on behalf of the Board of Trade and of the railway companies and trade unions of railway employees

1 The strike to be terminated forthwith and the men's leaders to use their best endeavours to induce the men to return to work at once.

2 All the men involved in the present dispute, either by strike or lock-out including casuals, who present themselves for work within a reasonable time to be reinstated by the companies at the earliest practicable moment, and no one to be subjected to proceedings for breach of contract or otherwise penalized.

3. The Conciliation Board to be convened for the purpose of settling forthwith the questions at present in dispute so far as they are within the scope of such boards, provided notice of such questions be given not later than 14 days from the date of this agreement. If the Sectional Boards fail to arrive at a settlement the Central Board to meet at once.

[Any decisions arrived at to be retrospective as from the date of this agreement].

It is agreed for the purpose of this and the following clause “rates of wages" includes remuneration whether by time or piece work.

4. Steps to be taken forthwith to effect a settlement of the questions now in dispute between the companies and classes of their employees not included within the conciliation scheme of 1907, by means of conferences between representatives of the companies and representatives of their employees who are themselves employed by the same company, and failing agreement, by arbitration to be arranged mutually or by the Board of Trade.

[The above to be a temporary arrangement pending the Report of the Commission of as to the best means of settling disputes.]

5. Both parties to give every assistance to the special Commission of Inquiry, the immediate appointment of which the Government has announced.

6. Any question which may arise as to the interpretation of this agreement to be referred to the Board of Trade.

Mr. Claughton stated that upon certain representations of the Government Sir Guy Granet and himself had authority from the companies to meet the representatives under the special circumstances and with a view of discussing the suggested terms of agreement. The terms have been discussed and agreed.

Sir Guy Granet and Mr. Claughton further stated that the recommendation of the Royal Commission would be loyally accepted by the railway companies, even though they be adverse to the contention of the company on any question of representation, and should a settlement be effected, any trace of ill-will which may have arisen during the strike will certainly be effaced.

We are, yours faithfully,

 

J. E. WILLIAMS, Gen. Sec. A.S.R.S.

A. FOX, Gen. Sec. A.S.L.E. & F.

T. LOWTH, Gen. Sec. G.R.W.U.

S. CHORLTON, Gen. Sec. U.P. & S.S.

 

 

 

TO THE RAILWAY WORKERS OF

THE UNITED KINGDOM.

After a brief but magnificent struggle a settlement has been arrived at between the representatives of the railway workers and the railway companies sitting in joint conference, and it has been decided to ask you to accept this settlement and to return to work at once.

It is necessary to point out that the present dispute originated in Liverpool and district, where nearly 10,000 railway workers came out on strike for better conditions and were immediately dismissed from the service of the companies.

In order that these men should have their positions secured other men came out at Manchester, Stockport, Sheffield and other centres, and there was a general demand for a, national stoppage. The Executives of the four railway organizations met at Liverpool and determined to give the companies 24 hours' notice that unless a settlement of the matters in dispute was arrived at between them and the whole of the organizations concerned, the whole of the men on the railways would be called out. 'When this statement was made public the Government at once sent for the managers and representatives of the companies, and also the four secretaries of the men's societies to meet it. At first there was no response to the overtures of the Government and the President of the Board of Trade, and they then wired for the whole of the members of the Joint Executive to come to London. Without going into details, it is only necessary to state here that the efforts to bring the parties together proved abortive and a strike was declared. So magnificently did the men respond to the call that within 48 hours the representatives of the Railway Companies' Association met the representatives and officials of the men's societies face to face to negotiate a settlement. That settlement secures that all the men who had been dismissed, or had come out on strike, should return to their work with full and complete unanimity, and thus the immediate and first object of the strike was secured, viz. :

No man who responded to the call of his leaders should suffer, and those who struck work should not only return to their former position, but we have an absolute GUARANTEE that no malice will be shown by the companies; and we have also secured the very definite pledge that all the long-standing grievances of the men shall be immediately considered and in a manner foreign to our past experience.

An urgency commission is to be Immediately set up which will consider the whole question of settling disputes between the companies and our men, adjusting conditions of service, the working of conciliation boards and the question of representation. It is important to remember that the railway companies have agreed in writing to accept the findings of that body, even if it recommends "recognition" of the unions. We have no hesitation in saying that in addition to having won official recognition in negotiating the present dispute, our evidence before the Commission will be such that] justifies us in saying before many weeks are over railway workers will have won a charter long enjoyed by every other class of the community. We would, therefore, urge you to loyally accept the agreement and demonstrate your confidence m the Executives and representatives of the four societies who, by working together, have not only shown their power and taught their opponents a lesson, but by the loyalty which has been displayed have swept away the petty tyranny that has for years been the cause of so much unrest.

In cases where we are not bound by the Conciliation Agreement of 1907 the grievances of the men in respect to remuneration, &c, are to be immediately considered by representatives of the men and the railway companies, it being understood that the men may select as their representatives any of their fellow employees, irrespective of the grade to which they may belong and the place where they may be residing.

This splendid success has only been accomplished by the justice of our cause, the perfect cohesion and unanimity of purpose between the four Executives conducting the campaign, and the loyalty and courage of the rank and file of our organizations. It must be clearly understood that this settlement is contingent upon the promises of His Majesty's Government and the representatives of the Railway Companies' Association being faithfully adhered to. Every assistance will be given to the Government and the railway companies to establish with us a lasting peace in the railway service PROVIDING THEY DO THEIR PART. Prudence demands that we shall still remain ready to take up the battle-axe again should occasion require.

In this dispute we have to thank the Labour Party, especially Messrs. Ramsay Macdonald, A. Henderson, and G. H. Roberts, for the splendid assistance rendered both in Parliament and during the negotiations which have been proceeding.

This settlement was not arrived at until a statement had been made by the Board of Trade that the lock-out at the conditions of the railway worker J enable him to enjoy a more human Liverpool would be withdrawn immediately satisfactory existence the railway dispute was settled.

We urge every non-unionist to immediately join one or other of the organizations concerned and do their part in assisting us to further improve

Yours fraternally,

J. E. WILLIAMS, Gen. Sec. A.S.R.S.

A. FOX, Gen. Sec. A.S.L.E. & F.

T. LOWTH, Gen. Sec. G.R.W.U.

S. CHORLTON, Gen. Sec. U.P. & S.S.

 

 

  

 BRIGHTON LOCO-MEN &

THE 1911 RAILWAY STRIKE

 

including extracts from the book

Lawson Billinton: A Career Cut Short

 By Klaus Marx


On Thursday, 17th August, telegrams were dispatched to all parts of the country calling out the men. On Friday, 18th, the scene at most London termini was that work was to continue be proceed smoothly, though at a reduced volume, with the help of 58,000 troops being place at major stations and signal-boxes. With the call for a national for strike by all four railway societies, across the country, the Enginemen at Brighton and other locomotive shed on the Brighton line decided to report for work as normal. 

 

There was disorganisation in traffic which was mainly due to the state of affairs in the Victoria area, where a few signalmen and Enginemen had struck in support of the strike, which resulted in the Company had to put spare men in their places, and this led to suspensions of train services. The strike of the signalmen had caused the greatest difficulty, inasmuch as the men who have been put in their places were not so thoroughly acquainted with the district and the traffic, and in order to make things easier for a time and to ensure the safe running of trains certain trains were withdrawn, and with not many people traveling it is no use travelling empty trains, and some trains remained were kept back. At the New Cross depot, the Company officials stated that only 30 men were out on strike, but the union leaders declared this number should was threefold.

 

Soldiers manning Balham Intermediat Signal Box during the 1911 strike

 

There was, however, no problems with the railway men in the Brighton area, who all continued to work as usual.

The attitude of the Brighton loco-men during the strike has appeared to puzzle the leaders of the trade unions. A meeting on the Saturday evening, 19th August, was held outside the Brighton locomotive shed, which was well attended, with about 100 Enginemen and Firemen in attendance, from both Societies, the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen & the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants. They discussed the strike at some length, it was the opinion expressed at this meeting, that, had the Conciliation Agreement being worked by the other companies in the spirit of the Brighton Company, there would have been no serious trouble. Those present unanimously decided that whatsoever the result of the main meeting, that was being held in York Place Hall, might be they would not come out on strike.

There was much stentorian proclamation of the fact that the strikers regarded Brighton men as “cowards.” This showed how little the Strike leaders knew of the service on the Brighton line. As several of the Brighton speakers had to confess, they really had no quarrel with their masters. If every company acted like the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company, said two spokesmen there would be no strike. It is quite possible there may be miner differences in the working of such a complicated business; but there is not the slightest reason why these cannot be rectified in a friendly spirit. There is machinery for the purpose. It has worked well on the line, simply because both sides want it to be beneficial. In a word, the Brighton Enginemen are perfectly content with their lot, and all they ask is to be left alone.

THE BRIGHTON GAZETTE 

LOYAL RAILWAY SERVANTS

Good often comes out of evil. People who take a philosophical view of things are inclined to think the recent upheaval in the railway world demonstrates several good points about the majority of the railway men , who are really servants of the public as much as postmen and policemen. It was almost worth running the risks of discomfort and inconvenience to evoke such a magnificent manifestation of loyalty among all the grades of the London and Brighton Railway staff employed in the Brighton district and Sussex in generally. Nothing could be more instructive than the clear demarcation between the peaceful and turbulent zones. One sees exactly how Socialism entered into the disturbance. Some of the apostles came to Brighton on Saturday to make bad blood; but the Brighton men knew how to take care of themselves on their own ground, and the visitors met with no success. The splendid pluck of the Brighton engine drivers and firemen in gently telling the London emissaries, that they would have nothing to do with their game and will not be forgotten by the travelling public. The entire staff at the Brighton end of the line, have displayed great moral courage under their reputation among their fellow townsmen.

 

During the meeting it was decided that the Loco men at Brighton would remain loyal to the Railway Company and not join the call for a national railway strike. The meeting also decided that they would send a deputation made up of representatives from both trade unions to meet the Railway Company Locomotive Superintendent Lawson Billinton to enumerate their grievances. The deputation was made up of eight delegates from both A.S.L.E.F. & A.S.R.S. trade unions that represented Enginemen and Firemen at Brighton. The eight delegates consisted of Bros. Auckett, Bolton, Davis, Jack Enves (A.S.L.E.F. Branch Sec.), Thomas Hatcher (A.S.L.E.F.), Knapp, John Tompsett and one other. The deputation was also to represent the non-Society Enginemen at Brighton.

Later on that evening, a second meeting of the Brighton branches, of all four railway unions, in York Place Hall. Mr. J. Waterhouse (Chairman of the Brighton branch of the General Railway Workers Union) took the chair. Mr. Waterhouse  read letter from trade unionists asking why they were holding back in Brighton and appealed to them not to be seen as “blacklegs.”

Representatives of the local branches then spoke of the current situation, the trend of the speeches of the local men was that if the Conciliation Agreement had been worked by all companied in the spirit of the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company, there would be have been no serious trouble. The speakers included Mr. Gill, Secretary of the local branch A.S.R.S., and Mr. Pargettar of Newhaven. The former declared that had the working of the Conciliation Boards been carried out on the other railway in the same honest, straightforward, and just manner in which there would never have been any need to hold that meeting that night (hear, hear). with one of two exceptions they on their line had the finest of  conciliation schemes in existence in the country, but of the scheme adopted in 1907 he said that it was most unwieldy and in some case absolutely unworkable. The scheme brought forward was on which they endeavoured to carry out both in the letter and the spirit, but it had been broken willfully by nearly the whole of the railway companies, thus making it absolutely necessary that what occurred in 1907 should occur to-day again. His complaint regarding the Brighton system was that they had never had a second meeting after the one which Lord Beesbourough presided. That was the only complaint he had against the Board on the Brighton system. So far as Brighton men were concerned, in the running department and in the workshops he had no knowledge - and if anyone had he ought - of any grievances of the road which could not be settled by the Central Board (hear, hear). The men on the Brighton system had no reason whatsoever to object to the scheme he regretted that he had to take that position that night. They had however, been forced into the position by the Railway Association trying to over-ride the workmen throughout the country. He maintained that it was quite as right that the workmen through out the country should have an organisation and fight with the same weapons as the Railway Companies themselves (applause). He could not understand why grievances could not be settle by arbitration without injury anyone. 

Having touched upon alteration in the working arrangements of the Enginemen and Firemen he spoke of the dissatisfaction caused in the Brighton works some time ago by what he alleged to be improper treatment on the part of the Superintendent of that period; and dealing with present conditions of the Works said he saw no reason why, if given time, things should not, under Mr. Billinton Superintendentance, resume something like the position they were in that gentlemen's Father's time (hear, hear). He thought they had the sympathy of the Board of Directors in this matter (hear, hear), and he hoped that in a short time - in less than a year or two - they would have got back into the old system of working in the shops being the late Mr. Billinton's time, when he thought that neither the Company nor the men had much to grumble at. The crux of the whole question was simple. Although they had very little to complain of with regard to the Conciliation Board on the Brighton System, he wanted to see a little more tacked to to it. He thought the men would be pleased to accept the scheme, but he wanted the agreement made broader and wider, as that instead of dealing with hours and wages only, it would deal with the conditions of service also (applause). If that were done and it where adoptes with a few minor matters altered be thought it would be a splendid, workable scheme, and probably the finest in the exception of the North Eastern (hear, hear).


Mr Pargettar, of Newhaven, said that, in connection with the working of the Conciliation Boards, he had written the London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company about 150 letters, and had had numerous interviews.On every occasion he had been most courteously received by the Company; had been able to discuss matters with them and in almost every case to come to a satisfactory settlement with them. "To have to fight in the face of that is hard, but our experience on the Brighton line is not the experience of men on other railways. They had numerous difficulties under this scheme; and I agree with Mr. Gill that had the other railway companies dealt as honestly with the scheme as the Railway Directors and Chief Officials of this Company endeveavoured to do, there would not be this meeting tonight."

Mr. Carey, an ex-railwaymen, then moved:- Having heard the speakers at this meeting, we are of the opinion that this lamentable strike need not have taken place had the Railway companies carried out the Conciliation Agreement in an honest and straightforward manner, and resolve to give the Joint Executive every assistance to obtain victory.

He supported this in a speech, strongly urging the men to fight, declaring that a general strike was the only way of getting a fair share of the world's products, and that it ought to have taken place twenty years ago, - The motion was seconded by Mr. Deighton. When put to the meeting a majority of those present vote for it ;ten voted against it, and many did not vote. It was declared carried almost unanimously.

On Saturday, there were an unusual scenes in New England Road and the neightbouring district when the workmen in the Loco Department of the L.B.S.C.R. left work at noon. The men flock down the streets as usual and departed to their respective home. At the headquarters of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servervants near the Loco Works, a number of men gathered to read Friday night's announcements on the Society board exhibited in a window. There it was notified where men were out. The loco-men at other loco sheds in the area (Newhaven, Eastbourne St Leonards), were waiting to see what the Brighton men will do, according to the statement on the board. 

On Saturday 19th, August, the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway, posted notices at London Victoria station, requesting that any interference with their staff in the execution of their duty should be at once reported to the General Manager, as the Government have undertaken to afford protection. The staff who remain loyal are also assured that their devotion will be suitably recognised by the Company. 

The London Brighton and South Coast Railway Company also gave notice that the following ordinary week-day service which were suspended to-day will be remained on and from Monday next. 

The Company claimed that non one of the Brighton Company’s men south of Croydon have come out on strike, and a number of men who struck work nearer London have applied for reinstatement.

On Monday 21st, August, the London, Brighton & South Coast Railway resumed a normal service.



 Engine Driver John Tompsett (left) & his fireman on a Marsh's Atlantic Class

 

THE AFTERMATH OF THE RAILWAY UNREST


Relations between the former Locomotive Superintendent Douglas Earle Marsh and the Loco men on the L.B.S.C.R. had been extremely fraught and strained, and when Lawson Billinton became the caretaker Locomotive Superintendent owing to Douglas Earle Marsh’s indisposition.

 

The deputation was hoping for a different approach from new ‘home-grown’ incumbent. Billinton chose to adopt a more conciliatory approach, namely to listen the men’s complaints and promise to see what could be done to resolve them.

Billinton received the deputation on the 21st August, 1911,he met a deputation of Brighton Drivers and Fireman to discuss their grievances, at the Brighton Locomotive offices. This was held against the background of a national railway strike. The Locomotive men had held a meeting two days earlier at which 80-100 men present had decided to be loyal and not strike. They represented  both societies and non Society men and elected eight delegates to see Billinton and enumerate their grievances.

The deputation had requested that Mr.John Richardson, the Outdoor Superintendent might be present as they did not want to go over his head. Billinton explained that Mr. Richardson unfortunately had to go to London.


The deputation presented a list of grievances.

1 Low rated firemen, firemen on the main line not receiving main line pay, whereas firemen are working locals.

2 Nine hour Sunday turns.

3 No time to get ready in London on a lot of main line turns, due to the Traffic Department using them for shunting, etc.

4 Some of the firemen want an extra quarter of an hour for booking on, as at present they have not sufficient time to get ready 5 Limit of loads for goods trains

6 Meal times for crane drivers.
7 Mess rooms for Enginemen.

8 Passes allowing Enginemen and Firemen to be available to ‘All Stations’

Other issues were also brought up during the course of this meeting which included: 
eye sight tests, smoke nuisance and resultant fines.

 Thomas Hatcher Brighton Branch Chairman 

 

Billinton wanted to wait until some decision as been reached in regards to the original grievances which are now the subject of a Royal Commission, and nothing can be done until the results are known. Billinton made it known to the deputation that he was always ready to see the men who are working for the Company.

The deputation expressed their sympathy with Billinton regarding the position he found himself in. It was felt by the deputation that some had men had been led away by paper twaddle and some hot-headed men.

Billinton passed on a message from the Directors and General Manager that they appreciated your loyalty to the Company. It is a pity other depots did not raise any questions before taking the drastic steps they did. It is extraordinary that intelligent men should run their against a brick wall in the way they have done. Billinton took it as a personal compliment that the Brighton men behaved in the way they did.

The deputation left feeling they had been listened to, that there was movement in the issues discussed and by and large they were not disappointed.

In October 1911, the local press reported that 'railway were called into the waiting room at Brighton station to be thanked officially for not striking'. Even a grateful public, relieved that their daily commuting had not been interrupted, patronised a 'thanks' fund raised by public subscription, the major payment being £94 16s 6d. to 'central Traffic and Platelayers'.

It was October 1912 before the review of terms of service for Enginemen, Firemen and Cleaners was published in a memorandum, responding to the proposals for revision by representatives of their grades and discussed by deputations with the Locomotive Engineer by direct negotiations, and not under the conciliation scheme. It was agreed the terms set by the Board be accepted by members of all the grades in full settlement of the whole of their demands, with the reservation that the Locomotive Engineer was instructed to enquire into and report upon the result to certain cleaners, of the system of payment by piecework, compared to payment at daily rates, In December at a meeting with engine cleaners, Billinton reported that he could not recommend any alteration beyond that sanctioned in the above mentioned minute. This rate was made uniform across the whole system.


With the national success of the 1911 strike, it led the way for many more Enginemen to join A.S.L.E.F. the 'Society', which resulted with many new A.S.L.E.F. Branches being formed, were there was sufficient demand, such Branches as Newhaven in June 1912 & Three Bridges in May 1913. Where there was insufficient numbers of new Branch, these members would be encouraged to join a nearby Branch, For example the Horsham Branch included members from depots such as Midhurst, Littlehampton & Bognor, there may have also been members from nearby Three Bridges depot. 

One of the main reasons why loco-men started to join the 'Society', was because they wanted to have an independent voice of their own on and their representatives to be experienced in their craft trade. This would lead to representation being concentrated on the issues that effect loco-men only,this was main the reason why many loco-men started to leave the A.S.R.S. (N.U.R.) and join the ranks 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

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