Grouping and the Small Long-distance Haulier
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A Section of the Haulage Industry SO far Overlooked in Grouping Schemes, is the Small Long-distance Operator. Our Contributor Puts Forward a Plan for Large Grouping Which, at the Same Time, Avoids Monopolistic Tendencies
By L. V. Ward
(L. V. Wctrd and Co., Ltd.) Nif UCH progress has been made during IY1 the past 12 months in the grouping of hauliers in many parts of the country, but, so far as I am aware, most of the groups have been formed for local or short-distance operators, or a mixture of long-distance and shortdistance hauliers.
To my mind, this mixing up is wrong, as I think that most operators will agree there is such a difference in the two types of business that the full benefits of co-operation cannot be effective or fully appreciated.
As yet, no plan has been put forward that has met with the approval of the small and medium long-distance haulier and yet it is those in these categories that require the most protection, because it is at them, only, that the railways, the large road operators, the Transport Commissioners, and• the Government, are looking with a glint in their eyes, waiting for the opportunity to exterminate them.
As sure as night follows day it will happen, too, unless something be done about it and that quickly. It is useless. to look to those mentioned for sympathy and support. We must find our own solution to the problem and, furthermore, it is useless for a few to act while others sit back and wait events.
If we are to survive, it is up to all small and medium operators to put themselves in a strong position and to act jointly; put our faith and trust in our brother hauliers and get to know one another more intimately. For-far too long has there been mistrust and jealousy among us and, to overcome this, we will have to work more closely together,
Grouping can, and I think will, be our salvation provided that we do not create monopolies. If we do we will be courting disaster. , It may be said, " How can this be avoided if we are working in large groups?" The following procedure would, in my opinion, prevent this happening.
In each large town the small and medium operators of long-distance' transport would form themselves into a large group. This group would be divided into sections, according to the areas usually served by its members, i.e., all thcSe who cater for, say, London-Birmingham in one section, and all those for London-Liverpool in another.
Alternatively, if it were considered to be too unwieldy, there could be one large group, with independent groups for each area. The reason for suggesting one group, to be split into sections, was to cater for those operators who have no regular -route, and who can operate with any section. Further, by sectional working it would he possible for those respon,sible for the operation of the section to contact. their opposite numbers in the destine:
tion town, to enable them to cater for return loads.
Apart from this, traffic is hound to fluctuate, and it would then be possible to switch over certain vehicles to other areas. Each operator would retain his own traffic for his own vehicles, and at all times remain the principal of the customer. All surplus traffic and vehicles would be offered to the group which would be responsible for paying the sub-contractor member for the work executed, and would invoice the operator for traffic accepted, both transactions being on a commission basis in order to enable the group to be selfsupporting.
All traffic distributed by the group would be recorded, and a complete list of the operators handling the traffic sent to all members eperiodically in order to prevent unfair distribution.
The foregoing is a rough outline of what could be done to safegeard the existence of the small and medium „Ione-ciistance operator whilst, at the same time, enabling him to cater for more traffic than he can handle with his own vehicles. During slack periods his vehicles would be fully employed.
At the moment all vehicles are con (rolied, but 1 consider that now is the ,time for us to make our arrangements so as to be ready for the time when we are again free. It has been said by the Government that it will not allow the railways to sink to the position they were in before the war. It has also promised support for inland waterways, but what of the long-distance road transport operators? It has not promised them even an existence We must be ready to oppose any attempt to stifle our industry, and the only way in which we can do it is to. join forces, draw up our own plan for the future, and be ready as soon as possible to say to the Government that we have a schemi that will work better than any Government one because every operator will have an incentive to work, and that the cost will be borne by the industry and not by the tax
. Government Should Act We now want our release from control. It is no longer possible for the Government to refuse on the grounds of shortage of fuel and rubber, or that the scheme would not work because, after all, it is on the lines of the present Government scheme. If it be satisfied with that, what other excuse could it make?
I should like operators to give this matter their consideration; and perhaps those who are interested in longdistance transport will, through the Editor of this journal, let me have their views on the matter. If sufficient interest be shown, I would be willing to undertake the task in London and assist others in any other area, because it is my firm belief that, unless we are prepared to co-operate with one another, the future of the smaller longdistance hauliers is doomed.