Should the SJ.C. Be Reconstituted ?
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The Author Is of the Opinion That This Bady Can No Longer Be Considered Representative of the Haulage Industry
By E. B. Howes
Vice-chairman Hauliers" Matua.1 Federation IN the persan of one of its principal permanent officials, the M.O.W.T. has refused to consider representations from a deputation which desired to lay before it certain views on the Government Road Haulage Organization.
The deputation came from one of the leading hauliers' representative organizations—one of long standing. The reason given for the refusal was that the Ministry had laid .down as an inviolable rule that it would discuss the scheme with the Standing Joint Committee and with no other body.
I am aware that this is no new departure, that the policy of the Ministry in this respect is well known, and that the refusal was to be expected, but I maintain, first; that the Ministry did wrong in selecting the S.J.C. as the only body through which it would negotiate; secondly, that the S.J.C. has no right to that privilege, for it does not represent the haulage industry and has not done so for some time past.
As formerly constituted, the Committee was elected by the industry in a proper manner. Each area and division of the constituent bodies sent its duly elected representatives and, at that time, the S.J.C. was reasonably but not truly representative of the whole of the rank and file of, those who are engaged in the carriage of goods for hire or reward.
Since that election, however, the Committee has co-opted so many non-elected members that, as at present constituted, it reflects not the views of the industry, as a whole, but those of a selected few, mainly members of the Waldorf Group and including most of the now famous " Eight," These co-opted members, together With those of the original Committee who so cleverly engineered their co-option, now form the majority and rule the roost.
This improperly constituted body has usurped the functions_ of the original Committee and cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be regarded as representative of our industry. It is, moreover, as-much of its recent work has shown, out of sympathy with the majority of hauliers, in , proof of which I need cite, only two of many of its mis directed efforts.
First, the result of the negotiations between the S.J.C. Finance Panel and the Ministry, which resulted in the terms and conditions of payment for both the controlled undertakings and the hired-vehicle owners. Secondly, the manner of its repudiation of the much-discussed pamphlet, entitled "The Road Carrying Industry and the Future," for although it is true that the Committee -did, eventually, disown that publication, it did so only after long delay, whereas, since it emanated from those who are so prominent in its councils, the repudiation should have been immediate. It is my view that the S.J.C. should at once be dissolved and replaced by a properly elected committee which, in the manner of its election, can be said truly to represent the industry as a whole.
Alternatively, and perhaps this would be the better solution of the problem, an entirely new body should be constituted, having as its purpose the carrying onof negotiations with the Government on behalf of the industry. This organization, which might be termed the Road Haulage Liaison Committee, and should be built on really democratic lines, should be elected as follows:—
There should be, say, two elected members from each traffic area. They should be chosen from 20 or so nominees, by means of a referendum of all the hauliers in each area. The question of association membership should not arise. This is important, for not all hauliers are members of associations, yet all have a right to have a say in any negotiations with the Government which may from time to time be necessary. , The Transport Commissioner for each area should be responsible for carrying out the referendum. He has a complete list of all the A and B licence-holders and is thus in a position to see that every legitimate haulier receives his ballot paper and that he registers his vote. For the detail work he can call upon the sub-district managers and group organizers in his area.
In that way a really representative body could be constituted, one capable of putting forward the views of all hauliers, rather than those of a select and non-representative few. In order that it should continue to be representative, the referendum should be held each alternate year and the organization thus formed should be permanent. Co-option in any shape or form should be forbidden ; none but elected members should be allowed to serve or have any voice in the negotiations for which the committee is formed. It shofild confine its activities solely to those matters and refrain from interference with those with which the current or future associations within the industry are intended so deal. In the course of its negotiations it should not be allowed to receive any representations from these associations, but should actentirely independently of all or any of them. Its mandate would come from the industry as a whole, without respect to any other organizations whatever.
Moreover, as this committee will have been duly elected by the industry to negotiate on its behalf, the Minister should have no option but to treat with it.
I would welcome opinions from hauliers regarding this subject, as it seems to be a bone of contention as to who really are authorized to speak for our industry.