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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches




Above the Joint Brighton Branch strike badge designed by Alan Ricketts & Jim Sayers





1982 was to become a major milestone for A.S.L.E.F. and its 


British Rail management wanted to implement flexible 

rostering which would mean footplate staff working a 

variable length day between 7 – 9 hours. The variable day 

meant doing away with the guaranteed 8 hour day, which 

A.S.L.E.F. had achieved after a long struggle back in 1919.

After long and protracted negotiations which also included 

an overtime ban and also a series of 24 hour strikes on one 

day each week this came to nothing as British Rail 

management would not move from their stance of ending the 

guaranteed 8 hour day the A.S.L.E.F. leadership called for 

an indefinite strike by all members.

So on Sunday 4th July at one minute past midnight the 

indefinite strike started. The two Brighton branches 

E.M.U.T. and M.T members became united to play their part 

in retaining this much valued condition of service. On 

Tuesday 6th July in the first week of the strike a series of 

special joint branch meetings of members from both 

branches being invited to attend were held. These meetings 

were to keep the membership informed of the latest positions 

of the A.S.L.E.F .leadership regarding the strike. This first 

joint branch meeting instructed that those A.S.L.E.F. 

members who where no longer fit for any driving duties to 

go to work as normal. These members where medically 

restricted and were employed to carry out such duties as 

railway messengers, mess room cleaners, and non clerical 

time clerks etc. These members would turn up at the special 

joint branch meetings to give details of the events that were 

happening with the depot.

As the strike progressed with the vast majority of train 

services in the country at a stand still with backing of the 

then Conservative Government the threat of mass dismissal 

of all striking A.S.L.E.F members from British Rail 

Management was made. This put all A.S.L.E.F members at 

under a great deal of pressure regarding their own future 

employment. The threat by British Rail Management to 

actually go ahead and dismiss the entire work force swayed 

some members to break ranks and return to work. Members 

where concerned not just about losing their jobs but also the 

effect on their hard earned pensions as many where nearing 

their retirement.At the special joint branch meeting held on 

Thursday 14th July it was decided that the next meeting 

would be held on the following Monday 19th July, this was 

the day British Rail Management had threatened to send out 

the dismissal notices. It was still British Rail Management’s 

intention to dismiss all striking A.S.L.E.F. members, if they 

had not returned back to work by that date.

Over the following weekend of 17th -18th July national talks 

where held between British Rail management and the 

A.S.L.E.F leadership, on the evening of Sunday 18th July a 

press statement from A.S.L.E.F. Head Office was released 

informing members to go back to work as normal from one 

minute past midnight on Monday 19th July. The A.S.L.E.F. 

leadership had decided to call off the strike and had 

conceded to British Rail managements new rostering 

principles of having a variable length day of 7-9 hours and 

also a reduction in the working week from 40 to 39 hours.

Aslef's defeat was bushwhacked by the resilient rail board 

over "flexible rostering". The T.U.C. even twisted the knife 

by urging the train drivers to return to work.

The special joint branch meeting on Monday 19th July still 

went ahead even though many A.S.L.E.F. members had 

adhered to the A.S.L.E.F. leadership instructions and had 

returned back to work. At the special joint branch meeting, 

the members officially call an end to the strike and it was 

also agreed that the anger from the Brighton membership 

was to be recorded into the way that the strike had been 

called off and the cherished 8 hour day had been conceded 

against the Brighton branches wishes.


ASLEF General Secretary Ray Buckton 1970 ~ 1987

"I can't hold my members back any longer" was Ray Buckton's favourite and ominous quote during spells of industrial strife on the railways.






Nine car D.E.M.U. at East Croydon, whilst working a semi-fast London Victoria to Brighton (via Quarry), 
note that the driver is nowhere to be seen in the cab whilst he is waiting for the guard's tip to departure.



Above the Brighton Joint Branch Strike Committee which incorperating members from all three depots Brighton M.T., 

Brighton E.M.U.T. & West Worthing E.M.U.T.

Alfie Smith, Roger Thomas, Bill MacKenzie, Phil Plaine, Norman Light, Dave Knight, John Trott, fred Locke, Laurie Osman, 

Trevor Fielding, Roy Swtman, Alan Ricketts, Mick Hawkins, Maurice Gray, Rod Saunders, Jimmy Southon 

& Graham Hussey.

(Please note the members telephone numbers have been ereased from this document)

Brighton Joint Branch Distress Funds as of the 16th July 1982.

The T. Ward Donation, relates to a donation from Brighton (No.2) A.S.L.E.F. member Tommy Ward.

Tom was one of a number of medically A.S.L.E.F. members of the Brighton Joint Branches, who were instructed to report 

for work as normal. Because they could not drive any trains and were designate to non driving duties around the depot, it 

was felt by these members working normally that they would have any implications to the end result of the strike.

At every branch meeting during the strike Tom would reported to the Branch of the latest activities from within the depots 

and across the division


Support from the Brighton Labour Party





Dear Sister/Brother,

You are invited to the July meeting of the Trades Union Council on 21st July at the Labour Club, 16 Lewes Road, Brighton at 7.45 p.m.


Bro. Plaine (ASLEF No.2) attending by invitation.


Strike Fund appeal sheet enclosed. Please take to your Branch meeting, workplace etc.

The British Rail Board, backed by the Tories are determined to smash ASLEF. If they succeed it will be your Union next!

Out of 200 ASLEF members in Brighton only one driver and two trainees are reporting for work!

*extracted from the agenda of the Brighton & Hove Trades Union Council


 THE 1982 A.S.L.E. & F DISPUTE


 by Phil Plaine

This article has been taken from the hand written notes by Phil Plaine, these notes were used as part of his address to the 

Brighton Trades Council shortly after the strike ended .


Looking back over the run up to the dispute, which first 

started with “1980 PAY SETTLEMENT” and the promise of 

a one hour reduction in the working week, before we 

accepted the 39 hour week. It would have been in our 

interest to have agreed on how this was to be implemented, 

as it happened the British Rail Board used it as a lever to 

force on us Flexible Rostering, which was the second item 

out of nineteen items which they had prepared on 

productivity which become known to us as their shopping 


With the 1981 pay claim in May of that year the B.R.B. 

offered the unions 7% increase which was rejected and the 

claim went to the Railway Staff National Tribunal (R.S.N.T.) 

with Lord McCarthy, which found in our favour of 8% 

immediate + 3% payable in November. This descision 

(R.S.N.T. Decision 72) was rejected by the B.R.B. This was 

first time that happened that a decision at the R.S.N.T. had 

even been rejected by one of the parties involved. And with 

a treat of a strike in the August the dispute was taken to 

A.C.A.S. and a settlement reached on the 8% being paid + 

3% in January 1982, but back dated to November 1981, due 

to a cash flow problem of British Rail. In a seperate 

agreement at A.C.A.S. it was agreed that the union would 

discuss certain aspects of productivity, Flexible Rostering 

being one of the items. It must be stressed that it was agreed 

to discuss, no commitment being made to reach agreement.

In late December 1981 as the B.R.B. had made no progress 

with A.S.L.E & F. on Flexible Rostering they informed 

A.S.L.E & F. they were not prepared to pay the 3% pay 

increase outstanding from the pay claim. This led to A.S.L.E 

& F. taking strike action in January and February of 1982, 

which in all meant 17 days of stoppages (Tuesdays, 

Thursdays & Sundays). This become very damaging to 

Bitish Rail and they had to settle. Having pressure brought 

to bear on them, that they were wrong in with holding the 

3% which had been agreed was a straight pay increase. It’s 

also being agreed they take their claim for Flexible 

Rostering back to the R.S.N.T. This resulted in the Tribunal 

finding in their favour Decision 77 which A.S.L.E & F. 

rejected, as A.S.L.E & F. considered the proposal 


The B.R.B. then made the decision to implement Flexible 

Rosters at a selected number of depots (see the list of depots 

bleow) in the hope that they could divide A.S.L.E & F and 

pick depots off one by one. But when the A.S.L.E & F. 

Executive Committee were informed of their plans they 

immediately called for an all out stoppage which began on 

Sunday 4th July.

Continues below.

 Above are a selection of B.R.B. typos that spelt out their determination 

to get their way over the Flexible Rostering issue.


The list of depots that where going to have Flexible Rosters imposed 

upon them


1982 Strike editions of the Loco Journal 

 Management's version of Brighton E.M.U.T. roster 


 Anyone who had been following the developments of the dispute are aware of 

the tactics used by the B.R.B and the Tory press (The dirty trick department of 

the C.I.A. would have been proud of them). But with A.S.L.E & F.'s Executive 

Committee finding on Sunday 18th July that the General Purpose Committee 

of the T.U.C. had failed to support or assist A.S.L.E & F. To protect A.S.L.E & 

F. against the dictatorial actions of the B.R.B. and their threat to dismiss 

A.S.L.E & F.'s entire membership, A.S.L.E & F. was left with no choice but to 

call of the strike and get back to discussing the imposition of Flexible 

Rostering under duress.

Now at this stage of the dispute and do not say the end of the dispute. For 

A.S.L.E & F. have re-affirmed its commitment to the preservation of the eight 

hour day. A.S.L.E & F. begun to way up the losses and gains of both sides.

It was felt that A.S.L.E & F. as a trade union found a greater inner strength, 

even greater than A.S.L.E & F. realised, a depth of loyalty and determination 

which passes right through the ranks, young & old.

A.S.L.E & F. had found out who our friends are locally and nationally, those 

that gave A.S.L.E & F. moral & financial support. A.S.L.E & F. had also 

became aware of the cancerous friends and groups within the Trade Union 

and Labour movement of the country. E.g. the moderate Trade Union Leaders 

(so called Leaders) who the Tory press lavish praised upon, the Labour M.P. 

who resided in the Brighton area who gave such good service to the Tory 

media with his attack on A.S.L.E & F., the Shadow Cabinet Ministers who 

attacked their leader after he tried to mediate and was accused of being a 

Strikers Friend.

Of our losses in money which throughout the dispute must be around £700 

each I can honestly say I have yet to hear any member complain about.

We have for the time being lost the eight hour day, but it was taken from us by

 dubious means under duress and A.S.L.E & F. as a Trade Union will be 

looking for its restoration.

What of B.R. gains and losses ?

They (the B.R.B.) have their Flexible Rosters Agreements which they may find 

nowhere near as productive as they hoped, this must be set up against their 

losses of £200 million plus lost business, but above all they lost the goodwill 

and cooperation of the A.S.L.E & F. membership and a large section of the 

N.U.R. train crew membership and this goodwill will remain lost whilst the 

present B.R.B. remain.

by Phil Plaine

L.D.C. Secretary Brighton E.M.U.T .






It was on return to work of A.S.L.E.F. members that the true 

picture started to immerge of what had taken place over the 

previous two weeks. Mess rooms across the country, which 

where once fairly harmonious places, became a battle 

ground, between loyal members and those members who 

decided to go back to work before the strike had been called 

off. In many cases it was not the fact that a member had 

decided to return to work, but the fact that some had worked 

a considerable amount of overtime. What made matters 

much worse was that some of these Drivers then started to 

boast about how much they had earned at the expense of 

their fellow colleagues who had stayed loyal and had lost 2 

weeks pay with the resulting financial hardship that 


This would become such an issue that there is still animosity 

between Drivers that worked and those that did not to this 


With the introduction of the new method of rostering 

Brighton E.M.U.T. and M.T. Depots Local Departmental 

Committee (L.D.C.) would have to agree their own rosters 

with the local depot manager. The major changes to the way 

the roster was to be compiled was that the roster would be 

sub-divided into an 8 week block with a minimum of 9 rest 

days and a maximum of 312 hours to equate to the 39 hour 

week in each 8 week cycle. The diagrams that Drivers 

would work to would consist of a variable length of between 

7 - 9 hours. The longer the turns the more rest days would 

be required to fit into the 8 week cycle.

At Brighton the E.M.U.T.and M.T. depots L.D.C.’s took a 

different stance on this issue. Whilst other depots were still 

arguing over the pros and cons of the new rostering 

principles the Brighton M.T L.D.C. struck whilst the iron 

was hot a got an agreement to their roster The Mixed 

Traction depot devised a method of rostering and became 

the first L.D.C. in the area to get their roster agreed. Their 

roster contained a large amount (of grouped together) rest 

days. This roster showed a driver having up to 7 rest days 

(including a Sunday) rostered over a weekend. The Local 

Depot Manager for Brighton was so pleased that he was 

able to sign off the first roster within the Brighton area. But 

it was only later after Drivers started working to this roster 

that Management realised that what had been agreed was 

not going to be such as productive as management had 

hoped for.

The Brighton E.M.U.T. L.D.C. decided to produce a rolling 

roster whereby every eight weeks the drivers would move 

from one 8 week block to another and then rotate around 

that 8 week block before moving on to another. This would 

ensure that every driver would work 312 hours every 8 

weeks. This method of rostering was to cause major 

problems amongst the membership. It was sometime later 

that this roster was done away with (see branch minutes 


Flexible rostering was perused by British Rail management 

under the belief that footplate staff would become more 

productive and reduce the amount of Drivers required to run 

the train service. The harsh reality though was that the cost 

of flexible rostering became exactly the opposite and very 


This is because if a Driver had a spare turn (was not 

rostered to drive a train but was shown only a booking on 

time and could be rostered to cover another driver if they 

were not available for any reason). This spare turn was a 

certain length (i.e.8 hours).

If that Driver was then booked a duty that was shorter than 

the original hours (i.e. 7 hours) they would only work the 

hours they had been booked but still paid for their original 

hours. Also if a Driver was rostered a spare turn of 8 hours 

but had to work a diagram of 9 hours they would be paid 

the overtime. Under the original agreement of the 8 hour 

day all diagrams and spare turns were of the same length so 

this did not arise

This method of rostering, all these years later is still the 

basis of how today’s drivers rosters are produced with only 

variations between each company within the country.



The 1982 strike badge produced by ASLEF


The Central Division of the Southern Region 1982 strike badge


The Southern Region 1982 strike badge







Minutes from Brighton No.2 branch meetings of the 13.09.1984 & 11.10.1984 regarding the issue of the Brighton E.M.U.T.'s rolling 

rosters saga



Pay slips reflecting the two weeks of the 1982 strike



The South Central Division commemorative plate displays the individual A.S.L.E.F. loyalty badges from the various 

A.S.L.E.F. Branches & Depots.

A number of Branches/Depots produced two badges, one was for the loyal member and the second in a different colour 

was for general sale, to help fund the cost of the making of the badge.

For example West Worthing E.M.U.T. depot had 24 loyal members (100%) and their badge was made in black and the 

green badges (see below) was for general sale. Therefore these types of Branch/Depot only badges are very hard to find 

and they have become very sort after items by the various badge collectors.

The badges in clock wise order are: Brighton Nos.1&2 (Top), Seaford*, Tunbridge Wells West*, Tatternham Corner*, 

Littlehampton*, West Worthing*, Victoria "C", Three Bridges, Streatham Hill*, Redhill, Horsham, Eastbourne (Bottom), 

London Bridge, Coulsdon North*, Norwood, West Croydon*, Bognor Regis*, Epsom Downs, Battersea, Catterham, Ore* 

& Selhurst.

* Branches/Depots now closed.

 Above are the commemorative plates for the South Eastern and South Western Divisions of the Southern Region. Each plate 

displays the individual A.S.L.E.F. loyalty badges from the various A.S.L.E.F. Branches & Depots within their Division.



West Worthing A.S.L.E.&F. 1982 strike badges

Even though the A.S.L.E.F. members of West Worthing E.M.U.T. depot belonged to the Brighton No.2 Branch, the depot 

proudly produced their own depot strike badge, which indicates their depots' 100% loyalty to this historical strike by 

A.S.L.E.F. This was something the A.S.L.E.F.'s members at West Worthing was proud to boast.


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the Brighton Motive Power Depots

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the Sussex Motive Power Depots & ASLEF Branches


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