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More Observations on Federation Proposals

17th March 1944, Page 25
17th March 1944
Page 25
Page 25, 17th March 1944 — More Observations on Federation Proposals
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

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Good Reasons Why the President Should he . an "Independent," but Can the By Federation Control the Policy of Its Autonomous Constituents? " T antalus " FFURTHER reflection upon the proposed Articles of Association contained in the second report of the Road Transport Organization jointConference, brings to light some interesting aspects which merit consideration.

In referring to the office of president in para. 12 (j), the report states:—"The president of the Federation will be an eminent person (connected with the road-transport industry or otherwise) hut will not be a voting member of the governing body of the Federation." As to whether or not voting powers should be accorded a president is a matter of no moment; but whether he should be a person connected with the road-transport industry is important and .a debatable point.

On the surface there would appear to be no reason for objection.. A thoughtful review di association history, how ' ever, raises'doubts and queries. Undoubtedly many people engaged in road transport would have laid long odds against negotiations for a unified representative body becoming an established fact had such negotiations been conducted solely by association personnel. Ample confirmation of this is proVided by the previous attempts to merge the two main national bodies.

Only when an eminent person outside the confines of the industry—free from association influences and without prejudices—took ciwge, were former failures transformed into success. If it had not been possible, to induce some such pentonage to undertake what must have been a formidable task, the chances arc that a third attempt also might have ended as previously.

There are, therefore, good reasons why the president of the Federation should not be connected with the industry. ,In electing Lord Perry as president for the first year, the joint Conference has adopted the principle of appointing an independent chairman. By so. doing, it places the holder of the office in "a much stronger position to wield his influz once and -exercisehis power exclusively for the welfare of the industry. He has no axe to grind and his independence provides the source of his strength.

Federation Will Have Clean Slate

• It may .be that, in some sections of the industry, this is regarded as a matter of little importance. In other quarters, however, there is strong support for a neutral president, and the hope is expressed that the joint Conference will give every consideration of this view point. Regardire, matters

relating to organization and representation, the Federation has a clean slate. The aim should be to keep it clean.

In connection with the functions of the Federation . Governing'. Body, which. is to consist of 12 members, the report states in para. .14 (c):—" To take 'all practicable steps (without prejudice to the independence and autonomy of the associations concerned) to reconcile conflicting views and, whenever possible, to arrive at an 'acceptable modus yivencli , s an altefnative to ,sepatate action."

. This paragraph shOuld be, read in conjunction with the functicins of the Natiohal Council, which . are given as follow:—" . define the policy of each association and to receive and approve reports of the work of the executive committee and of other committees of the association,"

These two statements would appear to be contradictory, although it is quite possible that the implication may not be a correct nue. It will be remembered that one' of the basic principles governing the Federation is that each .association shall enjoy autonomy. That being .so, will the Federation be responsible for the policy of the constituent bodies, or Will each associatidn have the right, under its autonomy, to formulate and put into effect its own policy? According to the report, the National Council will define policy for each association. •

The A.R.O. (the R.H.A. of the. future) already has submitted a policy for the consideration of the membership. Let it be .assumed for a moment that the Federation does not see eye to eye with the A.R.O. and, accordingly,' cannot accept the policy in toto. In that event, will the Federa'Lion be endowed Witleconstitutional authority to insist upon deletion or alteration of the points unacce'ptable' Alternatively,. will the AiR.O., or any other association, claim immunity from interference on the grounds of autonomy?

Why More Than One Policy?

Already much confusion has been caused by the publication of proposals regarding the future of the industry. In order to avoid ally continuance of such cohfusion and the attendant strife, and because' it is the function of the National Council of the Federation to define policy, it should be empowered with the necessary authority to insist upon the observance of that prerogative. • In point of fact it is difficult -to understand why the A.R.O. chose to announce a policy at this particular time. It was well known that an agreement was about to be signed prescribing the winding-up date of the associations, as a prelude to the commencement of active operations by the Federation.

There is one matter of urgency whiCh should be accorded priority, by the Federation. This refers to the Government Haulage Scheme. It was eXPected that time and experience would mark an elimination of waste mileage and of vehicles running light or partly leaded. Unhappily this State of

affairs continues to exist. •

Reiports• are still being received which provide ,evidence that vehicles are still not being used to the best advantage, with the resultant wastage of fuel and rubber. In normal times no haulier would permit his vehicles to cover long distances in an empty state: Economic. and financial considerations alone would rule out any such proposition. In the national interest there wOuld appear to be grounds for an investigation into the working of, the scheme.The Federation is provided with an' opportunity of action, by the instituting of a fullinquirY, the findings of Which should be a.vailable to the industry, the .pubilc and. Members cif Parliament.

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