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A Self-sacrificing Leader Required

28th January 1944
Page 24
Page 24, 28th January 1944 — A Self-sacrificing Leader Required
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Individual Schemes Concerning the Post-war Planning of the Haulage Industry are Merely Throwing Operators into a State of Turmoil which Weakens the Possibility of a United Front By


THE voices of indignation and protest raised against the audacious proposals sbt forth by the eight selfappointed " planners '' in the booklet " The Road Carrying Industry and the Future," are re-echoing throughout the country, and they are not confined to any particular class of operator. They represent the views of several sections of the road-haulage industry.

Generally, the proposals have succeeded in leaving hauliers in a state of complete bewilderment, They are asking such questions as " What is happening?" and " Where do we stand in the matter of representation?" These, quite definitely, are serious questions whiCh call for plain answers. .

For example, is the future of hauliers to be determined by any person who, surrendering to a whim or being possessed of a false standard of pride cembined with a desire for power, considers his views to be so sound as to warrant their being adopted as a matter of course? Any such idea is as stupid as it is fantastic, and could emanate only from persons entirely out of touch with the real opinions within the industry, who live in a world of their own in which nabobs dominate. If this stateof affairs be permitted the S.J.C. and other representative bodies might just as well be abandoned, as their functions will be discharged by private usurpers. .

There is evidence, however, that hauliers, .even though belatedly, nevertheless are awakening to the seriousness of the situation and becoming strenuous in protest What Might Happen if the Proposals Were Made Effective

It might be well to review the results likely to ensue were the proposals to become effective. There is the case of the small haulier who, it is suggested, should be limited to local transport. Although no radius is suggested, obviously this would be very restricted, otherwise the whole purpose would be defeated. The haulier, having been granted a licence with the conditions of operation attached, would proceed on his daily round of common tasks to earn a living. Being deprived of some of his regular customers who are located outside the new statutory radius it would be necessary for him to build up a new connection, for despite the fact that, under the new dispensation, his activities would be strictly limited, he would still be faced with the essential overhead expenditure in the matter of insurance, fuil. wages, etc. In seeking new business he would find himself in competition with some of the larger units with depots in the district, they, of course, enjoying freedom Of operation without limitation of radius and, quite likely, providing a similar local service. In such circumstances what would be the position?. Would the large operator surrender his local traffic to the small haulier as a quid pro quo for being responsible for reducing his status? -Or would he say: " What I have I hold "? If the latter, how could the small man survive under such conditions?

Let it be noted thatwhilst the " big eight" have not hesitated to submit their proposals, they make no suggestions whatever for the protection of the small haulier. So, under the proposed restrictions, the small man, after strug. sling bravely, might well find the competition too strong. Then he would be faced with giving up the business simply because he could not make it pay. In that event he could

seek another means for livelihood or, alternatively, offer his business as a going concern to one of the larger units, which might bring him the offer of a job as driver. Whichever course he adopted the result must be the same, with one operator less—another addition to the casualty list. • Any such process of elimination would result in the small man becoming a negligible factor. After its successful accomplishment a similar attack could be launched on the next class of operator, with like 'result, until only the large units would remain to enjoy an open and free field in road haulage. Then might follow, as a logical sequence, a merging of the large units, until, finally, there would exist a huge monopoly with powers to trade in the widest sense.

In the background lurks the " alliance " with the railway companies, with all the attendant implications of future developments.

The foregoing picture of the future of the industry is in the minds of many hauliers, as representing the intuitions and ambitions of a small but' influential minority. It will be seen, therefore, that arising out of the proposals relating to the small haulier there lies a grave potential danger which emits an unmistakable warning.

What is likely to be the reaction upon the hauliers concerned of such a prospect, and what form will it take? Will they. continue to adopt an attitude of nonchalance and meekly accept what the future,may bring or will they put up 'organized resistance in an effort to defend their o,wa future, as also that of their dependants?

So much has happened to the industry since the outbreak of war that there is no exaggeration in describing the situation as serious. That being so, the operators must ask themselves from which direction they can hope best for assistance, whether, in fact, froffi the associations, or the representatives on the S.J.t. Judged by past experience, the outlook would appear to be far from satisfactory. It is possible that the leaders are so deeply involved in the -plan of campaign for the extension of the industry that they are unable to proffer assistance, even should they desire so to do. On the other hand, it should be remembered that the proposals and suggestions may reflect their views. In that case there could be neither desire nor intention to act.

Representative Bodies Say Little as to the Small Haulier's Future The associations have usually remained silent and have maintained a non-committal attitude on questions concerning the small haulier, as also regarding other equally important matte's. Unless, then, there is a definite change of attitude on the part of the leaders, and the pronouncement of a clear statement of policy is forthcoming from the associations regarding the future of the industry, hauliers will be compelled to consider other means whereby they can secure much-needed and justifiable protection.

• It is regrettable that the industry lacks a powerful leader who would he prepared to put behind him, for the sake of the cause, all thoughts of personal fame and success; a roan possessed of vision and understanding beyond the narrow confines of his own particular sphere. The emergence of such a 'leader might transform for many hauliers the present sombre outlook into one of a measure of hope for the future.

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