Municipal Discussion 'jlear the Air on Many Matters
If you've noticed an error in this article please click here to report it so we can fix it.
LIVELY debates, sometimes with a strong political flavour, figured at the Municipal Passenger Transport Association's Conference in Liverpool last week, when the papers reported in "The Commercial Motor" of June 18 were under discussion. Highlight of the gathering was the annual dinner, attended by over 470 representatives and friends of the industry, which took place on the Thursday at the stately St. George's Hall under the presidency of Mr W. G. Marks, M.Inst.T., general manager of Liverpool Transport Department.
Among the guests were Alderman W. T. Lancashire, J.P. (Lord Mayor of Liverpool); Sir Gilmour Jenkins, K.C.B., K.B.E., M.C. (Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport); Mr. E. H. Edwards, J.P. (Public Transport Association); Mr T. Gray (S.R.P.T.A.); Major-General G. N. Russell (Chairman, Road Transport Executive); Mr. W. E. Macve (Licensing Authority, North-Western Area), and Mr. R. Stuart Pitcher, C.B.E.
In welcoming the visitors, Mr. Marks said most of the members were in doubt as to just what would be the position of municipal undertakings in the new order under the Transport Act. Nobody knew what would be the effect on the M.P.T.A., but he thought it desirable that the organization should continue, even if in some modified form, and he put forward the plea that the Minister should consider the help that this body • s26 that had been given to them by municipal transport undertakings.
Sir Gilmour Jenkins observed that it had been a tremendous advantage to the Minister to be able to turn for 'fadvice to an organization that was the guardian of the wisdom of the industry. People were asking whether the M.P.T.A. would reach its jubilee year, but that was a point he had been warned to keep off.
The thanks of the public were due to those who had built up the civic transport system, which played the greatest single part in moving people to and from their work. Something like half of the entire population was dependent upon these services. Coun. J. Gray, president for the coming year, expressed the Association's thanks to Liverpool for the lavish facilities provided for the conference.
Aid. W. T. Lancashire (Lord Mayor of seniority or influence. Coun. Armour conveyed to Mr. Marks good wishes for his happiness in whatever the sphere to which his retirement led.
The Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress gave a reception at the Town Hall on the Wednesday for members attending the conference.
Critical views were expressed by. a number of delegates when the annual meeting came to discuss, and finally to approve, a resolution authorizing the executive council of the Association to national agreement on the subject there would still be difficulties regarding rates and conditions as between comparable employees in different sections of a corporation's service.
Such an agreement would be liable to create a situation in which the municipalities were taken into comparison with the commercial operators. Conn. B. Reynolds (Chester) said they were only asking for a sensible policy that would do away with bickerings and irritations. the iniroduction ot the oil engine into passenger road transport. Employees, he said, now had a greater faith in arbitration and he believed that within the next decade the strike weapon would be outlawed and the would produce agreements on disputes.
Mr. A. C. Baker,C.B.E. (Birmingham), was re-elected treasurer and Mr. J. Atkinson, h:Dn. solicitor, with Mr. C. E. Grayson as hon. auditor. An increase of 50 per cent, in the subscriptions was approved by the meeting.
The following awards were presented
1947. Section 1: Sih:er Medal, Mr. Ronald Cox, personnel officer, St. Helens Corporation .Transport.
1947, Section II: Silver medal, Mr. J. k. H. Barnes, inspector, Traffic Investigation Department, Manchester Corporation Transport.
1948. Section I: Silver Medal, Mr. Ronald Cox. Letters of Merit, Mr. A. C. Barlow, assistant traffic superintendent. Huddersfield Corporation Transport, and Mr. A. C. Plans, assistant, Claims Department. Manchester Co goo rat i on ira nsport.
1948. Section 11; Silver Medal. Mr. George Hickmae. bus driver, Leicester City Transport. Letters of Merit, Mr, T. Dean, bus driver, Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield Transport and Electricity Board, and Mr. H.
The paper on " Labour and Persoanel Matters" by Coon. J. W. Hardwick (chairman, South Shields Transport Committee) was, in the absence of the author through presented by Coon. I. Hyrners. Ald. C. E. Tatham (Blackpool) commented that most undertakings were relatively small,. so that the suggested personnel manager was an added burden and unnecessary.
• If and when transport was reorgana27 'zed on a regional basis with, perhaps, 5,000 vehicles in the area, it might be necessary to buy a stately home of England to house the administrative staff and the resultant 'emote control would probably cause stagnation in the whole industry, increased cost and amplified discontent. Municipal transport did not want more and more officials with varied titles.
Most of the platform staff, representing 80 per cent. of the people employed in this section of the industry, did not join it until they were experienced in other work. Conductors were generally between 20 and 30 years old before starting and drivers often over 30; in the main they were content with their jobs.
Controlling Unruly Elements
Disruptive elements had crept into the trade unions in recent years and it was to the credit of the management that it had kept the situation so well under control. Transport lent itself to local organization and, generally speaking, the smaller undertakings were happier and produced the more favourable results.
Aid. J. Finegan (Tees-side Rail-less Traction Board) said they were considering public undertakings and not the personal properties of those who were employed in the industry. The present tendencies were due to the aftermath of the war and to the state of insecurity that existed between wars. If there were discontent in the road transport industry it was in spite of social security.
The manager made his suggestions which were considered by a committee consisting of the elected representatives of the people and he had to carry out the policy which they laid down, whether it was in accordance with his proposals or not, said Mr. R. McCreary (Belfast). A trades union official, Conn. B. W. Berry (Blackburn), observed that the troubles being experienced to-day resulted from the fact that there were two jobs chasing one man.
The old managerial idea of "hire and fire" was no longer valid and employers had to win the confidence of their workers. The proper man to represent the transport user was the elected representative of that use].
Ald. R. Broadley (Burnley, Colne and Nelson Joint Committee) came out as a supporter of nationalization in many spheres, who, nevertheless, sometimes had his doubts about its value in transport, especially road haulage.
Coun. A. L. Gibson (Birmingham) pointed out that supervisory staffs, such as foremen and inspectors, had to be trained to be leaders rather than to act as they often acted in the past. In any undertaking. large or small, there had to be a manager and he had to be left to . manage within the bounds of a settled policy; his advice should be taken on changes in that policy.
Pulling their Weight
Coun. Gibson disapproved the suggestion that committee members should be brought into the day-to-day running of an undertaking. So far as consultation on working conditions and pay was concerned, the committee was the representative of the public and had been elected for that purpose. Personnel managers were more likely to hold back the legitimate aspirations of the employee than was the transport manager himself.
The mass of workers in transport and other industries was pulling its weight. said Coun. B. Reynolds (Chester), commenting on the paper by Mr. R. C. Moore, M.Inst.T. (general manager, Sheffield Transport Department). entitled "Municipal Passenger Transport: The Old Order Changeth." Court. Reynolds related how members of the staff had themselves acted as sick visitors and as guardians of the sickness fund, so bringing about the diminution in the heavy claims.
Labour difficulties were the subject of comment by Mr. Vane Morland who said that Leeds rarely had fewer than 200 men working the seventh day. Sporting events were handled almost entirely on an overtime basis and they were still working the 48-hour schedules as it had not been possible to implement the schedules for a 44-hour week. As a result they were now re-opening opportunities for female labout.
• Paying for improvement
"Does it occur to us that our industry has materially contributed to the improved standard of living?" asked Coun. Gibson. If we went back 75 years most of us would be much poorer and that would solve our economic problems, but the present improved social amenities had to be paid for by increased labour. Municipal transport must not take out of the national reserves more labour than was absolutely necessary, concluded Mr. Gibson.
Coun. G. W. G. Armour (Liverpool) suggested exhibiting details of weekly income and expenditure and thought that there were openings for efficiency experts to look for opportunities for economy in a number of the undertakings.
Replying to the discussion, Mr. Moore insisted that the undertakings must not demand more and more vehicles to stand idle all day long just because of a concentrated peak. There were too many vehicles standing idle at the present time, so they must press for some other remedy. The industry was not going to enjoy its proper scope in the future if municipalities were going to take the opportunity of lopping off the reserves they new enjoyed.