Has the Industry Real Leadership?
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A Reply to the Suggestion of Associated Road
Operators That the Writer Should Pay More By Consideration to Facts Before Making Criticisms Tantalus " of the Policy of Haulage Associations THE suggestion made by the A.R.O.; as published in the issue of " The Commercial Motor" dated October 27, 1944, to the effect that before writing his articles " Tantalus " would be well advised to consider the facts, cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. It would seem that exception is taken to a remark made concerning the silence of the leaders of the industry in respect of a policy for the post-war organization, which was contained in an article entitled " Wanted—A Lead from the Leaders," published in this journal on October 20, 1944,
It is the desire of the A.R.O. in respect of this matter, to call attention to a statement of policy published by its Sectional Board during the past year. Emphasis is laid on the fact that the document has been widely circulated and has received a very wide measure of support, both from within and without the industry.
The writer is indebted to the A.R.O. for this reminder, which provides him with an opportunity of putting the matter in its right perspective. _That he should be enabled so to do is vastly important to an accredited contributor to an established ,journal; for no editor of repute would tolerate the deliberate misconstruction or distortion of any subject-matter for the purpose of misleading opinion. There are persons to whom criticism acts as a stimulus, and by such individuals it is welcomed as an encouragement and as a spur to greater adhievements. It is used by the wise to fortify weakness, as also to correct errors and avoid mistakes. There are others upon whom criticism acts as an irritant and, as such, is resented. In the latter case tolerance is replaced by vindictiveness, and balanced judgment by prejudice.
Examination of the Facts
to Prove the Point at Issue
It might he well to examine the facts concerning the point at. issue, in an effort to decide who is right in this matter. If the writer be proved wrong, then reproof will be accepted readily and adequate apology will be tendered. The details are as follow:— In the issue of " The Commercial Motor " dated February 11, 1944, there appeared, on page 28, under the beading " A.R.O. Propounds New Policy," details of a statement issued by the Hauliers' Sectional Board which outlined a considered policy for the industry. These proposals subsequently were 'reviewed by the writer in an article entitled " Analysis of New A.R.O. Policy," which was published on page 71 of the issue of this journal dated February 25, 1944, in which certain items were singled out for special mention. These included the suggested " Code of Conduce and Fair Trading," and proposals concerning the re-entry into the industry of operators serving with the Forces. In respect of the latter, the writer remarked that these proposals were unsatisfactory and disappointing, as provision was not made for unqualified re-entry.
Following my original criticism of ARC, 's failure td put forward definite proposals for the re-instatement of ex-Servicemen, Mr. I). Richardson, chairman of A.R.O., took exception, and his protest and a reply by " Tantalus " were published in " The Commercial Motor" for November 5, 1943. A request was made to Mr. Richardson for categorical answers to specified questions and this request was repeated in an article which appeared on December 17, 1943. Up to the present no reply has been forthcoming. •
From the foregoing it can be appreciated that no foundation has arisen for the offering of advice to the writer to the effect that before writing his article he should consider all the facts. Neither, does any occasion exist for the administering Of such reproof. One is inclined to wonder if decisions affecting the lives of hundreds of hauliers are made with equally rash and hasty impulse, and whether prejudice be permitted to override thoughtful examination and sound judgment. Just as it is important for contributors to the Press—daily or otherwise—to observe every caution in the exercise of their responsibilities, so also it is equally important that persons invested with authority, and influence, as affecting the lives of their fellow men, should use restraint when offering reproof or expressing resentment.
Arising out of the protest made by A.R.O. in this particular instance, there are certain points which merit attention. The remarks of the writer, in which he referred to the accredited leaders of the industry and not to any particular association or person, concerned not only A.R.O. but. also the C.M.U.A., the S.J.C., the T.A.C. and the Consultative Committee. In fact the reference was intended in connection with any body of persons authorized by election to safeguard the interests of hauliers in the best possible way. It is significant that the A.R.O. is the only body which took exception to the remarks. It would seem, then, that the cap will have fitted somewhere or somehow. Is it suggested that the A.R.O. claims for itself the role of leadership for all hauliers? Any such claim cannot yet be substantiated.
Is the Haulage Industry as a Whole Well Represented?
Assume that the A.R.O. has an active haulier membership of 8,000, which number excludes lapsed membership and those members who have resigned or gone out of business. Give the C.M.U.A. 5,000 members, to which number might be added 7,000 hauliers who belong to other bodies either local ot otherwise. Together these figures give a total of 20,000 out of something over 50,000 hauliers, the fatter number being probably an underestimate. It should be emphasized that these figures are merely assumed and are, therefore, open to correction. They will, however, serve to demonstrate that the A.R.O., although, doubtless, this association can justly claim to possess the largest number of haulier members, falls far short of representing the road-haulage industry as a whole. ,Whilst, assuredly, it has the prerogative to speak on behalf of its own members, it cannot claim to do so for the remaining 40,000 or more hauliers.
It is, in fact, this aspect of the position which, on numerous occasions, has prompted the writer to .urge the necessity of framing a post-war policy which reflects the views and desires not only of one section or one association, but of the road-haulage industry generally. Quite possibly the statement of policy issued by the Sectional Board may not be acceptable, say, to the C.M.U.A, or to any of the other representative bodies. If the National Road Transport Federation had been functioning with the Road Haulage Association as the constituent haulage body, the position, obviously, would have been very different. I consider, until this project be fully realized, the industry must .remain without an agreed policy to guiae its future.
There is in existence no national co-ordinated body qualified to act in this capacity. Those upon whom are placed the task and responsibility of planning the ,destiny of the industry might well profit,by digesting the words of a well-known writer who, in reference to leaders of men, said:—" The heads of the respective nations are the servants of the people and are subsidized by the people." This is true of leaders in all phases of life and can be applied effectively in the case of the road-transport industry.