And Now To Work
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HE long, dreary way of negotiations having been traversed and many road-blocks successfully over, come, the National Road Transport Federation has commenced its adventurous journey amidst a welter of social functions. The C.M.U.A., the Metropolitan Area ' of the A.R:O., and the London and Home Counties Division of the C.M.U.A. have held farewell luncheons. The nicest things have been said, in turn, by supporters and former antagonists; from which it would appear that now all are good fellows together, all jealousies and bad feeling are banished and Misunderstandings removed.
This sort of thing is not new. It has happened in the past upon many occasions and induces a feeling of curiosity as to how deep is the sincerity underlying the exchange of compliments and to what extent Alley can be relied upon. Has there indeed been a change of heart and has there been born a real appreciation of responsibility, with a 'strong resolution to place the interests of the industry first?
No cynicism is intended in this regard; the question is prompted, rather, by life's experience, which goes to prove that history frequently repeats itself. It is unfortunate but, nevertheless, time that there are people who, in spite of everything and of loud protestations tó the contrary, do place their own interests and ambitions first, and who do not hesitate to brush aside influences calculated to impede or prevent the realization of their cherished hope.
With the advent of a new era in the history of representative bodies, it is to be hoped that there is also a new outlook, fortified by honesty of purpose. Unless intrigue be outlawed and government by cliqUes becomes a memory of the past, dissatisfaction will continue, despite the change in organization. It would be a real pity were this to happen, for never was there more need for unity amongst haulrerVhan there is to-day. Equally important is the need for vigorous leaders who, having , embarked upon a sound and agreed policy, will pursue its cause without deflection, setting aside all other
motives and interests.
. Plan of Action Needs Revision Amongst the many tasks confronting the new R.H.A. one of the first should be an announcement of future policy. In this connection it is not forgotten that a declaration of policy was made by the A,12.0., • but circumstances have altered since that time, and into the new body there will be an influx of many members from the C.M.U.A., who, quite rightly, will desire to have a part in the framing of a plan of action and who, possibly, might not be in agreeinent with the terms of what was the A.R.O. policy. It is essential, therefore, that when the A.R.O. settles down it should give this question first priority.
At each of the luncheons which have taken place, special reference was made to the need for an increase in membership. The quickest and surest way to achieve this end is for the R.H.A. to provide definite evidence that it means business. The confidence of non-members and lapsed members can be gained or restored, as the case may b-only by the issuing of a clean-cut state
,. ment as to tfie intentions of the R.H.A. regarding the future of the road-haulage industry and those engaged therein. `Any such statement should be accompanied
• by an explanation of the methods to be adopted in the carrying out of the plans, and of the action to be taken in an effort to secure successful implementation,
There can be little doubt that if the large numbers of hauliers who are not members of any association were given an assurance upon which they could rely, that the R.H.A. intends pressing for the post-war status quo to be at least the number of vehicles licensed at the outbreak of war, most certainly they would be attracted. Another necessary assurance is that efforts will be made to secure the re-instatement of those hauliers who, through no fault of their own, have been put out of business.
A Shortage of Road Transport
These bread-and-butter matters are of serious concern to the individuals affected, and overshadowing all else is the need for the removal of the present system of control so as to permit of freer and fuller use of road transport SG soon as circumstances permit. That time appears to be imminent, for reports have been forthcoming from inore than one district to the effect that there is a marked shortage of road transport. This suggests that restrictions and repressive control have been carried too far.
This comes as no surprise, for it has long been 'apparent that, sooner or later, some such eventuality would arise. There is a possibility that the shortage will increase before the end of the war in Europe, and the problem presents an immediate opportunity for active service by the R.H.A. or the Federation. Which? This is a question which is the cause of coasiderable confusion. On any such matter will the R.H.A. make representations direct to the M.O.W.T. or will they be made to the Minister by way of the Federation? This requires elucidation by the Director of the Federation.
Associations can be fully democratic, expfessing the will of their members, or they can be autocratic bodies, carrying out the wishes of a powerful minority. They can fight to the last ditch to safeguard the interests of members—whether small or large—or they can become willing victims of a bureaucracy. It should be remembered that when formulating policies, Whitehall usually consults with the parties interested, and it is easier to consult with the few than with the many. The influence, therefore, of a' strOng association upon Government polity is considerable.
It will be seen, then, that the responsibility of the Federation in framing the future policy for the industry. is onerous and -great. Therefore, before entering into any negotiations with the M.O.W.T. a clear mandate must be received from the respective memberships through the constitutent bodies.' There must be no -" under-the-counter" methods in these matters.
As the representative body of hauliers, the R.H.A., in embarking upon its new life, is confronted with many problems which present great opportunities for useful service and the building up of a tradition of achievement. If those persons charged with the control and administration have this object as , their goal, the 100 per cent, membership should be realized.