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Colin Barker

Rail bosses’ redundancy dodge

(12 April 1969)

From Socialist Worker, No. 117, 12 April 1969, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

MANCHESTER:– Not sacked, ‘displaced’. That’s the unhappy fate of railwaymen at Central and Exchange Stations, due to close on May 5. No one will be made redundant. Therefore no redundancy pay will be given. ‘Suitable alternative employment’ will be offered to all the men. Lists of vacancies at a third city station. Victoria, have been published.

The jobs offered at Victoria are not being filled. Railwaymen find that there are no jobs in their existing grades, or the vacancies are for ‘rest day relief men’.

A ‘rest day’ man fills in another worker on his day off. He can be sent anywhere, told to do anything. It’s a job British Rail can’t usually fill. No one wants it.

If men from Exchange and Central don’t take up the jobs offered, then they can be ‘offered’ work anywhere in the North West Region.

And there is no pay for travelling time.


The result will be that many railwaymen will leave in disgust, ‘voluntarily’. That way, BR will save redundancy pay.

Len Neal of BR has stated in the press that he aims to cut the wage bill nationally by £25m this year. Now we know now.

British Rail can only get away with this because of the weakness of the unions. The rundown of labour can only be understood in the context of last year’s ‘Torquay Agreement’.

The men on the Manchester stations say the NUR signed the agreement in exchange for the ‘check-off’ system for union subs. This produces the incredible situation that the LDC representative (railway shop steward) doesn’t know who are the paid-up union members, but the station master does!

As one worker remarked. ‘This is the kind of closed shop we don’t want.’

A railman in Manchester now gets the princely sum of £13 a week, less deductions. Opportunities for overtime have been cut sharply under the Torquay Agreement, as an incentive to men to leave.

To add final insult to injury, the NUR is now talking of raising subs by 1s 6d a week ...

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Last updated: 14 January 2021