Flexible rostering dispute

Ken H

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I remember an industrial dispute in BR days about 'flexible rostering'
Can anyone explain what the dispute was about.
And what was the resolution?
 
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30907

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I remember an industrial dispute in BR days about 'flexible rostering'
Can anyone explain what the dispute was about.
From memory, and not directly involved, so others may have more detail: replacing the standard 8 hour shift (any longer being rostered overtime) for train crew with a flexible shift of 6-10 hours.
And what was the resolution?

ISTR 7-9 was eventually agreed and money was involved :)
 

Cowley

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Was this around 1989/90?
 

6Gman

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From memory, and not directly involved, so others may have more detail: replacing the standard 8 hour shift (any longer being rostered overtime) for train crew with a flexible shift of 6-10 hours.
And what was the resolution?

ISTR 7-9 was eventually agreed and money was involved :)
That's my recollection; I also think that in return for the flexibility the total hours over the working week were slightly reduced.
 

Gloster

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I reckon it was 1982. I think that 6-10 hours was the board’s initial starting point, but it soon became clear that 7-9 was the aim and they would concede as far as that, but then stick absolutely. I think that the reduction from 40 to 39 hours took a year or two to introduce: it didn’t half muck up signalmen’s rosters.
 

30907

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I reckon it was 1982. I think that 6-10 hours was the board’s initial starting point, but it soon became clear that 7-9 was the aim and they would concede as far as that, but then stick absolutely. I think that the reduction from 40 to 39 hours took a year or two to introduce: it didn’t half muck up signalmen’s rosters.
Was that not covered as rostered overtime?
 

Gloster

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Was that not covered as rostered overtime?
To be honest, at that time we were working every rest day, so I can’t remember at this distance whether I was working 39 hours plus 9 overtime or 40 and 8 (plus two 12-hour Sundays out of three). I don’t think that, as far as signalmen were concerned, the 39 hour week came in immediately. I do remember that when I moved on redundancy early in 1985 my new area had the shifts arranged so that you got an extra Rest Day every eight weeks.
 

Mag_seven

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Was this around 1989/90?

I reckon it was 1982.

Yes 1982 - see this news article

BBC Nine o'clock news on ASLEF strike | Tuesday 16 March 1982 - YouTube

From the archives of http://www.transdiffusion.org

If you've ever wondered *why* the government would do something as insane as selling off the loss-making railway system in the UK, and have ever wondered why New Labour spent 12 years not bringing it back into state hands, here's the explanation: when British Rail existed, the unions (specifically ASLEF) had the government's balls caught in a drawer whenever they wanted anything.

Here they are in the early 1980s taking exception to the BRB's (insensitively imposed) plans for 'flexible rostering'. ASLEF walked out, the BRB locked them out and... it all frozen for weeks until BR gave way, as it had to. The Conservative government of the time never forgave them and a decade later exacted a terrible revenge on BR that punished everyone involved (BRB members, staff, passengers, their mourning relatives and so forth)... but made senior ASLEF drivers higher-rate taxpayers as they played the new, clueless, private rail operators off against each other.

This video has been subtitled for the deaf and hearing impaired.
 

Davester50

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Thames TV programme on the flexible rostering dispute


Oh, you can't embed it. Click through for a 23 minute programme
 

AY1975

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Thames TV programme on the flexible rostering dispute


Oh, you can't embed it. Click through for a 23 minute programme
As I recall there was a series of one- and two-day strikes or something like that in January and February of that year, followed by an NUR strike in late June that was meant to be indefinite but was called off after just two days and then a two-week ASLEF strike in July. If you search for rail strikes 1982 on YouTube you will find more footage and news clips from that dispute.

I was 7 in 1982, and my mum, my gran and I had booked a Golden Rail Holiday to Llandudno in July, unfortunately starting in the last few days of the last strike so we ended up having to make our own way there by coach. The strike ended while we were there so we were able to come back by train as planned, though.
 

Efini92

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I remember an industrial dispute in BR days about 'flexible rostering'
Can anyone explain what the dispute was about.
And what was the resolution?
The standard day was 8 hours pre flexible rostering. From BR’s view it made allocating work very inefficient.
The unions didn’t want flexible rostering as they believed it would’ve stopped a lot of overtime, which at the time everyone relied on.
ASLEF and the NUR went on strike but at different times. The lack of coordination and the TUC not supporting ASLEF meant the strikes failed and flexible rostering was introduced.
 

75A

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It meant they could change your sign on time + or - 2 hours a day, so from say an original start time of 00:01 which was one of my favourites, by the end of the week you could be starting @ 11am, for night owls like me that was unacceptable and so people like me found new jobs!
 
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Bald Rick

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The dispute was long and bitter. It is worth remembering history to see what could happen in similar circumstances in future.

IIRC there were months of strikes, through the first half of 1982, not all of which were due to flexible rostering. The rostering dispute festered on, and the ASLEF strikes built up over a few weeks to something like Tuesday - Thursday for a couple of weeks by June. BR evidently felt it was not making any progress, and announced it would impose the rosters from early July. In response ASLEF then announced an all out, indefinite strike. Directly as a result, BR opened the case to the nuclear button and made preparations to make the entire driving grade (and possibly other grades?) redundant. AIUI redundancy letters were printed and ready to go. Of course, ASLEF were made aware of this, and in response they very quickly suspended action and accepted the BR proposal without conditions.

I vividly remember an interview with a driver in Modern Railways a year or two later, who when asked about flexible rostering said something like “we didn’t want it, but if they tried to take it away from us now we’d go on strike”
 

SWTCommuter

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A couple of Private Eye covers from the time. (For those who don't remember that far back, Sir Peter Parker was chairman of BR and Ray Buckton was the leader of ASLEF)




 
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Bald Rick

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35p! If you applied inflation since then, Private Eye would now be £1.27. It’s actually nearly twice that.

Worth remembering next time Dr B Ching complains about above inflation fare rises!
 

Sleepy

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It meant they could change your sign on time + or - 2 hours a day, so from say an original start time of 00:01 which was one of my favourites, by the end of the week you could be starting @ 11am, for night owls like me that was unacceptable and so people like me found new jobs!

And now when spare we could sign on 0430- 1400 day 1 then 1630- 0150 day 2 !!! So much for fatigue index etc.
 

HamworthyGoods

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BR viewed the X million lost on the strike as a ‘good investment’ to bet flexible rostering in
 

alf

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The dispute was long and bitter. It is worth remembering history to see what could happen in similar circumstances in future.

IIRC there were months of strikes, through the first half of 1982, not all of which were due to flexible rostering. The rostering dispute festered on, and the ASLEF strikes built up over a few weeks to something like Tuesday - Thursday for a couple of weeks by June. BR evidently felt it was not making any progress, and announced it would impose the rosters from early July. In response ASLEF then announced an all out, indefinite strike. Directly as a result, BR opened the case to the nuclear button and made preparations to make the entire driving grade (and possibly other grades?) redundant. AIUI redundancy letters were printed and ready to go. Of course, ASLEF were made aware of this, and in response they very quickly suspended action and accepted the BR proposal without conditions.

I vividly remember an interview with a driver in Modern Railways a year or two later, who when asked about flexible rostering said something like “we didn’t want it, but if they tried to take it away from us now we’d go on strike”
This post, if correct, should be circulated forthwith to Nichola Sturgeon & her Transport henchmen currently dealing with RMT.
 

ChiefPlanner

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It really was very serious - the UK was in a bad recession anyway , and whatever you think of Peter Parker (in my experience an utter gent when I met him a few times as a mere youth) , he tried very hard to be positive and to promote BR in every way that could be.

A few personal recollections - we had a thriving container business from the Haven Ports , especially from Felixstowe - all of a sudden with weekday strikes , you had a service that (say) left Felixstowe and got no further than March (despite planning to go to Stockton / Leeds / Newcastle or Coatbridge) - where it sat for 24 hours + and then carried on. Result an empty train or maybe a few empty PO containers. Course road haulage loved it , and cleaned up at higher rates- and even after the return to work it took months to get traffic back.

One particular "old boy" guard said that was the end of East Anglian electrification beyond Colchester , and he had planned on retiring on a high by giving 2 on the bell for a 312 or similar from Ipswich to Liverpool St. Am glad to say he got his wish.

It put freight onto a bad trajectory , and if anything speeded up cuts and cost cutting. Not a good time. Yes - the BRB were serious .
 

Lemmy99uk

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I vividly remember an interview with a driver in Modern Railways a year or two later, who when asked about flexible rostering said something like “we didn’t want it, but if they tried to take it away from us now we’d go on strike”

And one of the reasons we didn’t want it was the misinformation we were given by some of our reps.

I remember attending an NUR meeting where we were told that flexible rostering would mean that if we were rostered a nine hour shift but sent home in seven we would owe the company two hours, and they could then force us to work those hours at any time they pleased with no pay.
Of course this was utter nonsense, but no one challenged it at the time. We had been given a copy of the Boards proposals and I couldn’t for the life of me work out where this had come from, but I was young and green and didn’t want to make a fool of myself by querying it.
 

Albaman

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The dispute was long and bitter. It is worth remembering history to see what could happen in similar circumstances in future.

IIRC there were months of strikes, through the first half of 1982, not all of which were due to flexible rostering. The rostering dispute festered on, and the ASLEF strikes built up over a few weeks to something like Tuesday - Thursday for a couple of weeks by June. BR evidently felt it was not making any progress, and announced it would impose the rosters from early July. In response ASLEF then announced an all out, indefinite strike. Directly as a result, BR opened the case to the nuclear button and made preparations to make the entire driving grade (and possibly other grades?) redundant. AIUI redundancy letters were printed and ready to go. Of course, ASLEF were made aware of this, and in response they very quickly suspended action and accepted the BR proposal without conditions.

I vividly remember an interview with a driver in Modern Railways a year or two later, who when asked about flexible rostering said something like “we didn’t want it, but if they tried to take it away from us now we’d go on strike”

I remember this dispute partly because I had a permit to visit Crewe Works on Monday 19 July 1982 and wondered if I would manage to get there !

Seriously though, if I recall , the BRB threatened to suspend the " guaranteed week " ( I think that was the terminology ) for all other staff if ASLE&F members did not return to work, which they did effective from 19 July. One can only speculate what pressure was applied to ASLE&F by the RMT and TSSA to ensure the BRB threat was not implemented.
 

Dai Corner

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This was before the 1984 Trade Union Act which required a secret ballot before strike action.

What was ASLE&F's policy at the time?
 

GRALISTAIR

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I vividly remember an interview with a driver in Modern Railways a year or two later, who when asked about flexible rostering said something like “we didn’t want it, but if they tried to take it away from us now we’d go on strike”
I remember that vividly too. He also added many people dont like change iirc. Stopped the Bedpan 317s being introduced as scheduled too again iirc.

Wow - found this

(553) BBC Nine o'clock news on ASLEF strike | Tuesday 16 March 1982 - YouTube
 
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