£5 a week on road haulage basic wages
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• Although no firm undertaking was given on speed limits or on existing wage agreements, the road haulage representatives on the Road Haulage Wages Council voted last Friday with the trade unions for an increase to £16 lOs on the basic wage—at present £11 8s 6d for a 40-hour week—for drivers in the provinces of vehicles with a carrying capacity of up to 5 tons, The same increase of £5 Is 6d will be added to the basic rate for London drivers-5s above the provincial rate—and for the drivers of heavier vehicles. For example, the minimum entitlement for drivers in London of vehicles above 21 tons carrying capacity will go up from £14 Is to £19 2s 6d.
Drivers on the lower scales are at present entitled to an extra £2 on the basic figure until the total wage paid equals £16. This extra payment will no longer apply so that, paradoxically, the workers on the lowest level will receive the least benefit.
The Road Haulage Association has made the following comment: "In supporting the trade union proposal for the increase, the road haulage representatives emphasized—and the trade union representatives accepted—that the main purpose was to assist the lowest-paid workers in accordance with Government policy. The minimum of £16 IOs wit obviate the present system under which additional statutory payments have to be
made to drivers whose weekly pay on the basic rate would be less than £1.6.
"The RHA is advising members that the proposal, if in due course it is confirmed by the Secretary of State, Department of Employment and Productivity, ought not to entail an increase of the same order—or in some cases any increase at all—in wage agreements already in operation."
It is understood, writes our industrial correspondent that, generally speaking, where these agreements have been made, the trade unions are not seeking to alter them as a result of the Wages Council proposal. Mrs Castle would in any case be unlikely to approve a wage increase across the board of more than £5 a week, which would increase the industry's total annual wage bill by considerably more than £50m.
In accordance with the Road Haulage Wages Council (Variation) Order 1970 made necessary by the introduction of operators' licensing, the proposal will affect all operators engaged in work for hire or reward to however small an extent. It will be published on green paper as RH(93) for display on the premises of operators during the 14-day period available for objections. For the first time a separate column will show the decimal equivalents.
Subsequently, the proposal requires confirmation by the Wages Council and , approval by Mrs Castle before it becomes law with the issue of RH(94), this time on white paper.