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Time for new statesmanship

2nd April 1971, Page 17
2nd April 1971
Page 17
Page 17, 2nd April 1971 — Time for new statesmanship
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Which of the following most accurately describes the problem?

Speculation about the effects of the Industrial Relations Act on road transport is not made any easier following this week's lively conference reported on pages 33-4. Does Mr Ronald Butt's optimism need to be watered down a little? His outraged reaction to the militants in Birmingham who engineered stoppages on .New Year's Day and on March 18, against the expressed wishes of his drivers, probably reflects the views of most readers.

But progress in industrial relations requires employers, to understandthe obstinancy with which trade unionists maintain their solidarity in circumstances which are often painful to the individuals on strike. When the new legislation starts to bite, the last thing the industry needs is martyrs, losing their jobs or even going to prison for a "principlethat may be mere bloody-mindedness.

The dispassionate approach of Mr Dixon, the RHA's industrial relations officer, is preferable to excessive emotionalism from any quarter. He is realistic enough to anticipate no early improvement in industrial relations as a result of the legisla, tion but the Act will accomplish much if it improves attitudes on both sides, making for responsible negotiation. The trade associations if they have not already done So—should start talks with the TGWU to see if the National Negotiating Committee can be re-launched.

The term "worker" in the Bill involves staff at all levels, according to Mr Norman Sloan QC. Does that suggest that transport managers will see the need to join teachers, local. government officers,etc in a recognized trade union? The Bill's enactment will, in any case, challenge the statesmanship of employers and trade union officials: past sins of omission or commission should be swept under the carpet. The abolition of the Wages Council and the setting up.of a viable NNC is target number one. Its achievement would surely affect rates across the board.

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