BR Union Representation — Depot Staff

Dr_Paul

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Can anyone answer a question about union representation in BR days? Were skilled workers at BR depots members of the NUR or of the union related to their work, such as the engineers' or electricians' unions?
 
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Clarence Yard

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At the depots I worked at the skilled (cat 4) staff were nearly all members of the craft unions, usually the engineering workers, the electricians, or boilermakers unions, the latter for the welders and smiths.

Your local reps would be elected from anyone, who then represented everyone, irrespective of union. At national level negotiations would be dealt with by “the confed” (the confederation of engineering unions) who used to, with the NUR, sit down with the BRB.

NUR depots I knew tended to be ones where unskilled staff were in the vast majority but even then you could find confed staff present. Likewise you could find NUR staff at a largely confed depot, especially if they been working in other railway departments. NUR representation amongst the non skilled Cat 1 to 3 staff was common.

Clerical, Technical and Management staff were mainly TSSA (I was a TSSA depot rep for nearly 10 years) unless it was an NUR depot. Supervisors usually stayed with their craft union. Poaching of staff by unions was prohibited by the inter union (TUC) Bridlington agreement and if it occurred and complaints were made to the TUC, staff had to be returned to their original union.
 

pdeaves

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Poaching of staff by unions was prohibited
Did that bar people from switching unions of their own free will (I use the term carefully as I can't think of anything better)? I mean, suppose I was in union A and thought they didn't represent my views properly, could I choose to move to union B or would I be stuck with union A forever?
 

Aictos

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Did that bar people from switching unions of their own free will (I use the term carefully as I can't think of anything better)? I mean, suppose I was in union A and thought they didn't represent my views properly, could I choose to move to union B or would I be stuck with union A forever?
I was in one union and left it a few years ago due to having no confidence in the leadership which was shared by a few of my colleagues, most of us left and rejoined the other union that we could join. At no point was I told I wasn't allowed to do that.
 

Dr_Paul

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Did that bar people from switching unions of their own free will (I use the term carefully as I can't think of anything better)? I mean, suppose I was in union A and thought they didn't represent my views properly, could I choose to move to union B or would I be stuck with union A forever?
The Bridlington Agreement ensured that one union could not -- at least in principle -- 'poach' another union's members, that is, recruit members in trades represented by another union. It was formulated in the late 1930s and was operative until relatively recently. There were always grey areas: it was not always clear what union should represent what job, and there were areas where union mergers and changing employment practices blurred the divides amongst unions. For example, in the civil service, where I worked for a long time, my union represented clerical grades, with the exception of the Department of Employment, where a union merger had brought in some lower managerial grades. On the London Underground, I believe that ASLEF represented drivers on the Metropolitan Line because in the past trains were loco-hauled, whereas this didn't apply on other lines, which were EMUs more or less from the start. On BR Southern Region, some EMU drivers were NUR members, rather than ASLEF.

It's pretty much gone by the board these days. In many industries one union represents all the workforce, irrespective of the trade. In my last job, in a university, there was a choice: I joined Unison, as I had a clerical job, but I could have joined the lecturers' union (UCU) or the technicians' union (Unite).
 

6Gman

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At the depots I worked at the skilled (cat 4) staff were nearly all members of the craft unions, usually the engineering workers, the electricians, or boilermakers unions, the latter for the welders and smiths.

Your local reps would be elected from anyone, who then represented everyone, irrespective of union. At national level negotiations would be dealt with by “the confed” (the confederation of engineering unions) who used to, with the NUR, sit down with the BRB.

NUR depots I knew tended to be ones where unskilled staff were in the vast majority but even then you could find confed staff present. Likewise you could find NUR staff at a largely confed depot, especially if they been working in other railway departments. NUR representation amongst the non skilled Cat 1 to 3 staff was common.

Clerical, Technical and Management staff were mainly TSSA (I was a TSSA depot rep for nearly 10 years) unless it was an NUR depot. Supervisors usually stayed with their craft union. Poaching of staff by unions was prohibited by the inter union (TUC) Bridlington agreement and if it occurred and complaints were made to the TUC, staff had to be returned to their original union.
"Bridlington Agreement".

That takes me back!

My father was an ASLEF Branch Secretary who used to get regular feedback on the ASLEF:NUR balance among footplate staff at various depots. Much was said about the Bridlington Agreement! :D


On the London Underground, I believe that ASLEF represented drivers on the Metropolitan Line because in the past trains were loco-hauled, whereas this didn't apply on other lines, which were EMUs more or less from the start. On BR Southern Region, some EMU drivers were NUR members, rather than ASLEF.

It's pretty much gone by the board these days. In many industries one union represents all the workforce, irrespective of the trade. In my last job, in a university, there was a choice: I joined Unison, as I had a clerical job, but I could have joined the lecturers' union (UCU) or the technicians' union (Unite).
Of course the full title of ASLEF was The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Motormen and Cleaners.

Always found the use of "Society" and "Engineers" (not Drivers) interesting. And "Motormen" for those tram drivers south of the river. ;)
 

Taunton

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Of course the full title of ASLEF was The Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, Motormen and Cleaners.
This of course represented the time when the standard footplate progression was cleaner-fireman-driver.

I wrote recently that the bus drivers in Taunton and much of the South-west are members of the NUR, and were never in the TGWU (nowadays Unite I think) like other bus organisations. This went way back to when the GWR ran some (not a lot) of pioneer bus services, all starting from the station. They merged these in with Western National in about 1930, still keeping a 50% ownership of that company, but the union arrangement, even when the bus operation moved wholly out to a bus station and a garage on the other side of the town, remained.

It was actually a part of the opposition against the West Somerset Railway heritage line starting in the 1970s, as the bus garage at Minehead was always financially shaky and their only "good" route was the one to Taunton, so they opposed a competitive railway reopening, and thus the NUR overall followed this policy.
 

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