Sunday, 26 June 2011
Was This Bob Crow's Grandfather?
A guest post from Edward Spalton
Acting as executor in tidying up a house, I came across a copy of the Daily Sketch of May 4 1945. Among the news of collapsing German armies and imminent victory was this item.
TUBES MAY JOIN STRIKE TODAY
There is a possibility that by the end of today London's Underground services will be involved in the unofficial strike of 6.750 trolley bus and tramway workers. Meetings are being held today by the Underground drivers to decide whether they shall come out in sympathy with the others.
Mr Ernest Bevin, Minister of Labour, is keeping a close watch on developments. It is possible that he may intervene if there is a risk of all of London being brought to a standstill. A great many workers yesterday had to thumb lifts to work and home - or walk.
All day negotiations took place between the men's selected strike representatives and officials of the Transport and General Workers' Union but by evening little progress had been made.
The official view is that little can be done, except to withdraw the summer schedules, the cause of the strike, and then, when the men have returned to work, to review the whole question whether the schedule shall be operated.
Tramwaymen last night passed a resolution stating: " This joint Divisional Committee, being of the opinion that the dispute cannot be settled until there is a resumption of work, recommends those in the dispute to resume work immediately, in order that negotiations with the Board may be resumed".
This recommendation will be taken back to the branches for decision. It is unlikely that a full resumption of work would be arranged before tomorrow morning. Representatives of the Central Bus Committee attended several meetings of the busmen last night and urged them to return to work but the busmen declined to go back until the tramworkers returned.
Amazing to think that this sort of throttling of economic activity with its stately dance of "unofficial" strike committees acting "in sympathy" with each other and the intervention of "official" trade union representatives with government ministers dancing attendance was allowed to continue to hold the public to ransom from 1945 until Mrs. Thatcher did something about it. The accumulation of destroyed jobs and economic prospects over thirty five years must have been colossal, accounting for a great deal of national decline over that period.
I was at a meeting of independently minded peers and MPs the other day when it was mentioned that the transport workers' leader Bob Crow would be a speaker on a cross-party platform at a rally for a referendum on EU membership in October. "But he's the most hated man in London" said one noble lord. "At least the tube will run on that day" said another.