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Unions agree to Roadline trim-down

27th August 1976, Page 25
27th August 1976
Page 25
Page 25, 27th August 1976 — Unions agree to Roadline trim-down
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

OADLINE is not a complete picture of gloom and espondency but a patient whose symptoms are being .eated, says the State-owned parcel carrier's managing. irector Arthur Smith.

The company is in "serious ouble" after losing traffic qd returning a big loss for the rst time.

Part of the treatment is the atting up of new joint corniittees in the regions with nions and management to ecide how to go about saving ioney and making the cornany work.

This is part of what Mr Smith escribed as -identifying the :tion needed-, and he said iat he had the full support of le unions in his action.

Roadline's problems will be :ferred to the new National oint Standing Committee :hich will be overseeing the ioney-saving progress — but ie committee does not have its rst meeting until September 2. Mr Smith commented: These reports that we are Ding to the unions to provide a Wine are a lot of nonsense, ut we have their co-opera


The news of Roadline's oubles follows the opening of new Elm depot at Northarnpin and the closing of three :hers in the same area.

But at the time spokesmen ir the company denied that the osures were part of a rationaiation scheme. A spokesman aimed that jobs were being fered to former employees at le new depots.

Just five months after the )mpany's much publicised rery change and name change em BRS Parcels there were imours circulating that a 'ogramme of cuts was being )nsidered which would cost ound 250 jobs.

The plan was completely ijected by the Transport and alaried Statfs' Association ho took their "no redunancy" stand just a week after anaging director Mr Arthur mith took over.

The plan involved eliminatg the North Eastern area of Dadline by merging it with the orth Western area and mergg six of the offices with the Eastern area — and this alone could have cost 250 jobs, mainly in the administrative fields.

Profits from the Roadline company have been sinking every year over the past few years and for the first time since 1972 they have recorded a loss of E1.1 m on their £46m a year turnover.

Now the unions are beginning to see red over the payment of profits from the Roadline company into a general fund so that they cannot be used when the company is in trouble.

But Mr Smith in a statement said that both the management and the unions appreciated how serious the problems facing the company were.

He said that the trade unions had offered their complete support in "obtaining the effective use of manpower at all levels within the company and specifically in improving the overall quality of our service."

This week a Transport and Salaried Staffs' Association spokesman told CM that they were willing to establish joint committees with the company and local representatives of the union to look at ways of saving money. He said that this may well include redundancy. "We are not opposed to limited voluntary severance — but we are not giving the management carte blanche to go 'chop, chop' chop'," said the spokesman.

The National Freight Corporation, of which Roadline is a part, is to be bailed out again — the second time this year — by a special Bill that is to be introduced into Parliament by the Government in the next session.

The Bill will allow the Government to help the NEC achieve a permanent solution to the problems that it has faced; and the Bill would also give the Department of the Environment more statutory powers to ge the NFC out of trouble hopefully once and for all.

Meanwhile, union sugges tions of joint committees to lool at the Roadline position havi been the result of ''franl discussions'' between union: and management.

Roadline profits over th( past few years have plummete( from £1.93m in 1974 t( E0.49m last year_ And thi Ellm loss this year has prove( to be the last straw for the NFC which can remember wher Roadline was one of the bright est profit-making jewels in it: crown.

Mr Smith explains the cur rent situation with such phrase: as: "We are suffering from ; market which has taken ; tumble, but we have the ful union co-operation."

The unions are now in ; position of having made ; complete about-face man oeuvre. At the start of the affai they had told their managinc director of one week that hi would have to completely re think his schemes to dos( depots and cut staff.

Now they are telling him tha they will allow — or at leas co-operate with — staff cuts or the administration side. spokesman for the TSSA sai( that the man on the shop floe would not come under th( scrutiny that administratior staff will: "Volumes o throughput have to be main tamed," he explained.

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