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International Socialism, Winter 1965/66


Stan Mills



From International Socialism, No.23, Winter 1965/66, p.32.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Redundancy and the Railwaymen
D. Wedderburn
Cambridge, 20s.

This is a case-study of one particular redundancy, the contraction and closure of two railway workshops, one at Gorton, Manchester and the other at Faverdale, Darlington. As a sociological survey it is concerned mainly with effects rather than causes, with the social and economic consequences of those affected’ although in Chapter I – Background to the Workshop Closures – it does give the opinion that technological innovation in the operations of the railways makes some redundancy inevitable. This attitude is substantiated by the Director of the Department of Applied Economics, who, in the preface, appears to consider that the ‘Plan’ and its effects are inevitable in the interests of progress. The question of modernising the workshops and of alternative policies to the existing plan are not considered as a means of overcoming the problem. The description of how the workshops grew up with the railways from the mid-19th century and of how most of the present buildings date from before 1900 is the story of how the workshops have been disgracefully neglected since they were nationalised in 1947.

Nevertheless, this survey within the terms of its reference is both useful and interesting, inasmuch as it describes the varying reactions of the affected workers to such things as redundancy payments and the trade-unions. It contains a number of informative diagrams and a mass of other information on, for instance, how workers with special skills and long service set about finding new work, particularly the older workers and those with physical disabilities.

The contents of this book are an indictment of the Labour Government’s failure to carry out its pledges to halt the Beeching Plan and to utilise the full potential of public ownership.

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