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A peek at TESSA

22nd March 1980, Page 74
22nd March 1980
Page 74
Page 75
Page 76
Page 74, 22nd March 1980 — A peek at TESSA
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Rare today; the white co lar Transoort Salaried Staffs' Association is founded on good sense and realism and it knows how to organise its diverse membership

OF THE best known white r trades unions in transport ) Transport Salaried Staffs' iciation. Its membership, nd 72,000, is almost ly employed in the public or of transport, with tantial numbers employed ifistituent companies of the Dnal Freight Corporation, Ion 'Transport Executive, London Country Bus Ser llaried staff in the Scottish sport Group, Caledonian Draynes Ltd, Overseas Conffs Ltd, Cores lompair Ei, Ulsterbus, Northern nd Carriers, Thomas Cook so forth, give something of iembership flavour.

'hen it began in May 1897 tle was the Railway Clerks' ciation, a name that was Idoned in 1951 when a h wider role in terms of ibership recruitment was ;aged. Today, well over a of the membership is unlected with railways. Peter tt, the TESSA research er, reckons that between t and ten per cent of the ibership — around 7000 le — is working in the road port sector.

was not surprised to learn around a sixth of the ibership would qualify for agerial classification, many in the £5,200 to £10,000 )ar salary bracket. The HI represents admin istraprofessional and technical, supervisory staffs in the unikings for which it caters. A 'ter of the membership, all membership grades, vornen.

you think that such diverse ,s as clerks, typists, ghtsmen, inspectors, stamanagers, branch manag

architects, quantity ayors, photographers, hotel otionists, chemists, and suisors make strange bedfelin a transport union, the ver is that transport is very rse.

he pure road transport buff might see no Merit in membership categories in hotels, travel agencies, shipping, ports, container operators and so forth. But they all form part of the transport picture in 1980 and TESSA, with 83 years on the job, probably knows as much as any trade union can about the membership and organisation problems.

I was lucky to have Peter Wyatt as a candid guide to the TSSA for he has worked in most head office departments and he's had vast experience of industrial relations negotiations. His research files were right up to date:— as they need to be when used as ammunition in protracted pay claims. Trades unions today gather information about comparable salaries in many other industries besides the ones covering their own membership.

I asked Peter about white collar membership in other unions in the transport industry. Why had NALGO a presence in the bus industry? This derives from the local authority bus undertakings. It seems that TSSA did recruit in the North Western Road Car company to almost 100 per cent; but though, following a tussle, the TUC disputes committee awarded TSSA a seat on the negotiating body, "other trades unions" did not make a seat available. "By the time the argument was settled we'd lost the membership!'' I next sought a view about th6 British Transport Officers' Guild which recruited senior managers in BRS many years ago. BTOG seldom makes news, although I have noted one Press report suggesting that a few managerial members of the Guild have said that the "Association has not — and does not — understand or serve their interests and so they have decided to join the BTOG."

Peter Wyatt said the BTOG was a body with parallel membership but it spoke only for a tenth of the relevant membership. Unlike TSSA, which was affiliated to the TUC, the BTOG was not associated with the "movement". "The TUC wouldn't have 'em".

BTOG, said Peter, was more like a snobbish clique than a trade union. Its subscription was a lot lower than TSSA's and BTOG was under-resourced and unable to research and mount effective pay claims for its members, numbers of whom, incidentally, hold joint membership with TSSA.

Evidently, the tensions that exist in all white collar trades unions between say, higher ma nagement and clerical memberships, leading to the -feeling that the same full time officers cannot effectively represent all categories of staff, have conspired to perpetuate the existence of BTOG.

An article in the TSSA's vely journal (February 1980) b Bill Etherington, the TSSA fi nance and organising officer says on one recent occasion th Guild asked Tom Jenkins, th TSSA general secretary, t "take the lead [after an ad journment of a BR Manage ment Staff National Join Committee] as patently they di not have the capability, or his toric knowledge, to suppor what they were claiming wa reasonable."

Some members of BTOG, i appears, fear that the TSS could drag them into a strik action, quite unbecoming to se nior executives. As to that Peter Wyatt says the Union ha been involved directly in onl two strikes since 1926, one i Ireland and one relating t some members in docks. Docil ity on that modest level woul surely warrant a badge of punt from Mrs Thatcher.

Full time trades union officers will be in for a lively time when more restrictive legislation on the conduct of strikes becomes law. Peter Wyatt was once at the sharp end when he answered the phone at 5.30 pm and was made the official "Deliverer" by the Court of Appeal when TSSA's general secretary, then Percy Coldrick, was required to present himself at once to the National Industrial Relations Court, of unhappy memory. Some hectic phoning eventually ran Coldrick to earth — he was on a North Country tour.

That was the time when TSSA was one of three unions required to hold a membership ballot which resulted in two thirds of the membership of this most moderate Union voting to support their Executive in strike action if necessary.

The headquarters of TSSA, in the shadow of Euston Station, is called Walkden House, commemorating A. G. Walkden, a young goods agent, who became general secretary in 1906 — at a loss in salary — and led the Association for the next 30 years.

Walkden became a legend to his members. Perhaps some of his magic and personality now resides in his grandson, Alex McCowan (son of Walkden's daughter) whose presentation of St Mark's Gospel in London led to a performance in the White House before President Carter. Tom Jenkins, the general secretary, is the older brother of the much more mediaconscious Clive. Tom, has been in charge since Percy Coldrick retired some three years ago. He has a strong character, corning out on top in an internal controversy when one of TESSA's three MPs, Tom Bradley, sought the general secretaryship.

The Union has a total staff of 84, deployed mainly at headquarters; there are regional offices at York, Glasgow and Dublin. There is a current reorganisation in process which will devolve work from the Londonbased road haulage officer (Tom Morgan, who has just retired) to regional secretaries who will take on board extra functions. There may be logic, cost-wise, in sharing road haulage with rail membership services. As Peter said, if the TSSA London Midland Region officer is in Manchester to talk to railway chiefs, why should he not also visit North Western BRS at the same time?

There are two assistant general secretaries, Bert Lyons and Norman Hitchen. Bert's responsibilities include the NFC, docks and waterways and the travel trade, Norman's pitch embraces London Transport, London Country Bus Services, and the Scottish Transport Group, Hitchen's, lion's share in membership terms is balanced by his colleague's legal and superannuation duties.

The TSSA believes strongly that pay negotiations are the province of full-time professionals. Granted that some lay members may fancy themselves in this role and everyone has to start somewhere, Peter Wyatt inclines to the view that the right place for good negotiators is on the staff of the Union.

Opinions may vary — some unions give a lot of responsibility to lay members — but full time professional negotiators are more likely to be fully equipped with facts and relevant comparabilities.

Believing that negotiation at the top levels is not a job for amateurs has certainly not prevented the Union from actively supporting the training of staff representatives, to help them do a better job for the membership. TUC courses run at local colleges are helpful.

At one time the TSSA met the costs of this training themselves — and the only expense employers had to meet was leave with pay for those attending.

Current courses are supported by a subsidy of £400,000 given by the previous government in response to a call from the TUC. I believe the subsidy will continue.

Another feature of TSSA is concern for women's rights, particularly equal pay for equal work. In part this arises from the war years when men on active service were replaced by thousands of women. With many of the companies the Union claims to have moved beyond this into an area of common seniority and promotional opportunity for all staff.

It would have been reasonable for TESSA to have set its cap more vigorously at the independent sector, especially in road haulage, when it was obvious that its foundation industry — railways — were declining in importance.

There has been some penetration in the travel trade — Pickfords and Thomas Cook provided a sizeable nucleus — and the latter company's staff continued to be presented by TSSA after 'being acquired by Midland Bank.

There have been sporadic attempts to recruit in the coach industry, notably at Wallace Arnold, with a disappointing response from the staff side. Equally negative were talks with Cosmos and Global Tours.

Peter Wyatt accepts that there may be recrui'ting 'oppor

tunities in road haulage, es cially in management grac "So far we've not seen priN enterprise transport as a lu tive area, despite the existe of some poorly paid manag We've found opposition rr rampant in road haulage t in other industries we've be at."

There is, I think, a relucte by the Union to get involve a fragmented industry would be expensive to ser properly. In contrast to IA might be termed the traditil "cosy" relationship with Ir. organisations in the state tor, TSSA feels inhibited though Peter did say: "If became aware of need and vided another union was no valved we'd be in."

Of course, TSSA faces a — the White Collar sectioi the TGWU (ACTSS) — wl can be serviced, I would gu more cheaply because of driver members in the TG1 There is a fairly even spli membership between T; and ACTSS in parts of r transport. TSSA cannot b, of any closed shops in this a

Periodically, research o ers of the principal tra unions get together, as do r executives of companies. I interested to learn that thr presentative of the Post 0 Staff Union pricked up his when Peter described the E ness Performance Schi jointly negotiated witi number of unions with Br Rail. "Could this be a basi! us?" said the Post Office rm The story suggests that trade union grapevine, in sent circumstances, may v more quickly than formal o formal exchanges betwE say, heads of nationalise( dustries. Ideas which wor the benefit of both sides — TSSA serves a number of I duck companies — deserv be canvassed rapidly.

Many times, the top ma ers of National Carriers, cuckoo in the state trans nest now slim enough to have paid tribute to the c sense and realism of TSSi ficers and members in acr ing tough redundancy am location programmes.

Non-militant commons( qualifies for few plaudits the media, or from the mo may make recruiting more cult. It is for managers deal with TESSA, and membership, to censure m, have painted a false picture

,) custom and practice in the place; ) collective agreements as ribed in the next part of this I) minimum legal requirets of employees described in this section; i) in some instances the rea:or the lack of work.

-ris is an example of the nesslike style of Lay-Off, -t-Time Working and rndancy. It's a softback, and ber two in the IRB's astion and Answer" Series. n seven cases out of ten," Robert Mackmurdo, editor is series, "employers who ) workers redundant break egal rules in one way or her. This is because the are complex and are widely Inderstood. Indeed, it is . clear that trades unions, :h have extensive legal

s to information and contion, do little to exercise entitlements.

(et, because of the present t of redundancies and widespread lay-off of

employees, and the serious legal and financial difficulties associated, a great increase in legal challenges and industrial tribunal cases can be expected in the weeks and months ahead. So the publishers have expedited production of their management guidance on this subject."

Every employer who deals with independent trades unions must be fully aware of his obligations to notify and consult. Trades unions have not, as yet, exercised their extensive legal rights with any great vigour. But violation of such rights could be very expensive in direct money terms.

This book is intended to provide practical guidance from board to foreman level. It progresses through six parts where problems raised by attenders at Industrial Relations Briefing seminars are examined. The last two parts contain illustrative tables and the text of the rules and are intended mainly for reference purposes. The Bulldog Mack, then called Model AC, was first tested in 1915 and launched the next year. Favourable comments were made on the hidden placement of its radiator, and on its front chassis cross-member which was a disguised bumper. Its chain drive was considered well adapted for gruelling work with general contractors.

Engineers with a British purchasing team in 191 7 were responsible for the Bulldog name; its pugnacious front and resolute lines suggested to them the tenacious 'quality of the British bulldog.

At home in the USA 3.5-ton Bulldog trucks proved their worth on a 740-mile run organ: .ised by the Goodyear tyre company. An unusual feature of these lorries was sleeping compartments.

Within two years a new engine, designed to avoid the use of heavy castings by employing pressed steel, was installed in, a test vehicle. In the Twenties rail cars based on the Bulldog added a new dimension to the Mack product line. In this decade the truck reached a degree of public recognition only surpassed, perhaps, by Model T Fords and Rolls-Royce cars. Toy makers cashed in, and it's a mark of the comprehensiveness of this book that Bulldog toys claim an appendix — one of six, including ones on specifications and chassis numbers..

Radiator shutters were developed about 1924. A large multi-storey plant was erected in 1925 in Long Island City. Mack sales declined in the depression of 1932, but three important new models were introduced. Model AC production was phased out in 1938; but by that time the expression "Built like a Mackhad been born. YOUR Cafe Accommodatio Handbook is the uncompr mising title of the United Roa Transport Union's pocket-siz book. Quality and cleanliness all addresses are assessed eithtgood, fair or poor — and th information is based on detail sent in by drivers.

Facilities, number of beds pe room, whether there is TV, bar bath/shower, games, and th. distance from a lorry park 8r:indicated. And there are quite few pages on rules and reg drivers may need to look up.

You may like to know too tha there is a Sea Mist — listed ii the Isle of Wight — the Juggernaut is near Crawley, Knights o the Road at Lulsgate, Somerset. and the Rendezvous Café is ir Diss, Norfolk.

Lancashire is more down t( earth: it has two Jean's Cafés, Val's, a Flo's and a Bill's besides the Salvation Army However, could they compar( with Kent's Retreat Café am. Motel near Sevenoaks? It ha , two TV rooms, showers, phone, supplies all meals, is 20 yards to a lorry park, near a public house. ' has tea provided in TV room... free, and central heatirm throughout. Sounds so much better than the "recom mendedguesthouse my office booked me in the last time I went to Canterbury. Know wha I mean?

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