State 'smalls' services get shake-up
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BRS Parcels and National Carriers to have joint area managers
by John Darker • The integration policies of the National freight Corporation stemming from the Transport Act requirement that the NFC should procure "property integrated services for the carriage of goods" have been carried a stage further with the decision to appoint area managers responsible for both BRS Parcels and NCL branches and depots within their areas.
This logical step was hinted at in the recent first annual report of the NFC but it is surprising that the radical decision came before the publication of the Freight Integration Council's report to the Minister of Transport—if, indeed, the report is to be published. It was submitted several months ago and its contents are known to few people, though of great interest to thousands of employees of BRS Parcels, NCL and the Post Office.
Letter to union CM learned of the new integration development from a letter sent by Mr S. C-G. White, managing director of BRS Parcels Ltd, to one of the staff trade unions involved. Dated August 6 1970, it reads as follows:
I know that you are well aware of the requirements of the 1968 Transport Act that the NFC should procure "'properly integrated services for the carriage of goods". Indeed, the matter was noted in some depth in the Corporation's recently published Annual Report. You will also know that a very detailed study has been undertaken on the related problems involved in closer working relationships between BRS Parcels Ltd and NCL.
This is a highly complex matter and obviously there is an urgent need for a sensibly integrated approach to our customers and a strong, united opposition to our competitors. There is no doubt that we shall be in a much stronger position to be successful in that if we commence to unify our management effort. We have, therefore, decided to appoint area managers who will be responsible for both BRS Parcels and NCL branches and depots within their area. These area managers will have a dual responsibility to the managing directors of both companies. Incidentally, these area managers currently occupy area management positions within either NCL or BRS Parcels.
I thought that you would wish to have some official information of this organisational change. Beyond possible local moves of salaried staff in places where each company has an existing area office, no general change in locations is proposed and the dual nature of the area manager's responsibilities should not of its eff lead to significant changes in staff levels.
If there is later need for change you are, of course, assured that we will respect our longstanding arrangements to consult with you. We shall also be noting the organisational changes within the Company's Area Committees. I have already outlined and discussed the changes with the area managers.
am writing a similar letter to the other trade unions concerned.
Yours faithfully, C-G. White Managing director
I understand that the planned changes in the responsibilities of area managers will be more easily accomplished because of a few impending retirements. I surmise, too, that the fundamental re-structuring of the management organization, of which this is the first significant pointer, will not be undertaken hurriedly. Indeed, unless I am vastly mistaken, the feet-dragging which has prevented this logical move hitherto may derive additional strength from the attitudes of staff and trade unions.
Wind of change The NFC 's annual report says pertinently (p.20) ". . . whereas at one time it might have been thought that the inherited differences between the Railway Unions and the Road Unions might prove one of the greatest single obstacles to the progress of integration, this has not been so . . . A considerable cooperation has been achieved, and though the wind of change has not yet begun to blow very sharply, perhaps, there are good grounds for hoping that effective arrangements will be made by the unions themselves to 'integrate' or come together, as it were, in such a manner and degree as may be nect ary to smooth the gradual developm which should come, and at the same t: to protect the interests of all the men c earned".
Interesting management implicati follow from the concept of joint Pare NCL area managers. How will each mana cope with the assimilation of possibly dif ing advice or interpretations from the 1 managing directors? What will be the pa ion of functional specialists if their adv normally accepted, is rejected by the he quarters functional executive in the "oth camp? Is the joint consultative set-up in two organizations to be merged?
Challenge to Mr Land There is little doubt that this major s towards integrating the two huge state pan concerns will trigger off much einoti providing a stimulating challenge to Peter Land, managing director of Bri Express Carriers Ltd, its presun author. If the parcels and smalls mai for which both their bodies cater had beer expanding market separate develop" could have gone on for a long time. As NFC says in its annual report: "No ser that faces heavy losses or subsidy, National Carriers, will be satisfactory in long run. In addition, a situation where vices in the same ultimate ownership eng in internal competition—in itself not alw a bad thing—at the cost of losses inadequate profits) falling upon the pursi the common owner, is a situation that can be tolerated indefinitely. The scope and tribution of the temporary grant to N may, therefore, be worth re-examination".
Note: NCL employs 24,500 staff I operates 9000 vehicles. NCL profits for 1! (after crediting grant of £17m) were £1.9: BRS Parcels Ltd employs 11,200 staff operates 4000 vehicles. Its profits last y were reduced from an estimated £800,l to £240,000 as a result of a damaging sti and too-long-delayed rate increases.