BBC Nine o’clock news on ASLEF strike | Tuesday 16 March 1982

The rail tribunal ends in deadlock: the chairman
says he can’t give a ruling. Britain’s rising crime rate: warnings from
two police chiefs. The teacher attacked by a pupil’s mother:
she’s won her legal battle and says other teachers should follow her example. In America’s attempted-murder trial, von Bulow
is found guilty on live television. Mr Brezhnev makes a promise on missile deployment,
but the West is not impressed. And the Queen goes to dinner with the Sultan. Good evening. The railway tribunal into the
dispute between ASLEF and British Rail has tonight ended its hearing unable to make a
decision. The tribunal spent three days hearing evidence
from all three rail unions and British Rail. But the chairman, Lord McCarthy, announced
tonight that he and the other members of the enquiry team are now going to have to consult
their assessors to decide how to get clearer evidence about the issues. The tribunal was told by Ray Buckton of ASLEF
that his members would not accept flexible rostering at any price, while British Rail
have repeated that they will not ask the government for new investment money if they don’t get
their way. Here’s Martin Adeney. Well the tribunal finished here a couple of
hours ago after a day of often fierce cross-questioning. At the end of two days of hearings, the two
sides are now possibly further apart than they’ve been throughout. We’ve said that the British Railways Board
is not prepared that the existing level of productivity of footplate staff is satisfactory,
we’re not prepared to go to government and continue to demand the nation makes its contribution
to improving the investment situation as far as we’re concerned when we’re not prepared
to do that thing ourselves – ourself, that we know we can do, we know we can do without
detriment to the workforce. We can make these improvements, we’ve got to make these improvements. The way that the British Railways Board are
making these proposals, they’re absolutely unworkable and will not be acceptable to the
men. So I’ve got to – surely that’s my job? – I think especially at the tribunal, is to
carefully explain to the members the feeling of the people that I represent. It’s no use
convincing me, as I said, they’ve got to convince 24,000 engine drivers. And they won’t have
it. This isn’t politics, this isn’t bloody-mindedness. It’s a real feeling of practicable men who’s
doing a real responsible job of work, that understands rostering perhaps better than
anybody else in this country. Well, the man now left with the most unenviable
job is the chairman of the tribunal, Lord McCarthy, and he concluded the tribunal with
these words. Speaking of the vast differences still between the two sides, he said the disputes
over facts and consequences were so great “I do not feel able to decide between you
on all the points you raise”. Well that of course means a vast difficulty and it looks
as if Lord McCarthy and his fellow assessors may well have to travel around various depots
of British Rail to get further information about the various disputed rosters. And although
Lord McCarthy talks of carrying this out with the utmost possible despatch, it must be some
weeks before any kind of report can be produced. Two chief constables have issued dramatic
statements about the problems Britain’s policemen are facing. Street crime in one of our most
violent cities, Liverpool, went up by nearly 28% last year, the year of the Toxteth riots.
Merseyside’s chief constable, Mr Kenneth Oxford, appealed for public support and warned “unless
we can persuade people to help, we’re fighting a losing battle”. Mr Oxford would not give
a breakdown of the percentage of street crimes committed…

  1. I dont remember BR giving way, I remember them getting their way. ASLEF memebrs accepted Flexible Rostering and Driver Only Operation, I know as I worked the shifts. Peter Parker the chairman of BRB was rewarded by Government with investement linked to these & other productivity initiatives. BRB management was viewed in a better light by Governement. Flexible rostering wasn't the best model, it was coslty on the admin side of things, there wasn't a clear cost saving. DOO was much better.

  2. I remember many drivers literally chomping at the bit to get on with productivity initiatives, many had voted Tory and werent the Reds under the Bed they were painted. Driver Only Operation ( DOO ) which gave a driver an xtra £7 per shift was popular initiative. Variable Rostering was not so popular as it was seen as innefficient & complicated things but still you got a small daily VRP payment & the rostering in many cases led to an increase in overtime as it wasn't practical in practice.

  3. So what?

    It is as possible to know the history of your own early life as it is to know the history of hundreds of years ago. Why do so many people forget that?

  4. Typed on the fly as the video ran (pausing it frequently). YouTube then matches up the typed words with the most likely places they were said automagically.

  5. read about ray buckton here, a traitorHE revelations about MI5 infiltration of the unions confirm that there are large parts of the state wholly removed from any hint of democratic control. According to the BBC series True Spies, secret service agents bugged, burgled and bribed their way into the heart of the unions during the 1970s and 1980s. Hurling aside all the rhetoric about privacy and the rule of law, these agents did what they pleased in order to destabilise workers' organisations.
    The spies had friends at the top of the union movement. Joe Gormley, the leader of the miners' NUM union in the 1970s, and Ray Buckton, who led the Aslef rail union, passed information about their members to state agents. Gormley was a traditional Labour right winger. He had secret meetings with Tory prime minister Ted Heath during the miners' strikes of 1972 and 1974. So his links with the state are not surprising.
    But Buckton is at first sight more of a shock. He was seen as left wing and was at the centre of discussion among left wing union leaders about tactics during the miners' strike of 1984-5. He was also vilified by newspapers such as the Daily Mail for being a 'filthy red' who was holding the country to ransom. On one occasion the witch-hunting was so intense it led to death threats. Buckton was given armed Special Branch guards.
    At the time he said he was convinced that his death threats had been engineered to provide an excuse for round the clock surveillance. Perhaps it was to make it easier for him to pass on information! It seems likely that Gormley and Buckton were not alone. The ex Special Branch officers who have been boasting of their exploits to the BBC say that 23 senior trade unionists were 'talking' to them in the 1970s – not counting those working directly for MI5.
    Based on the agents' reports, workers were vetted by employers and then blacklisted. The lives of many thousands of workers, and those of their families, were wrecked as a result. The surveillance went beyond trade unionists.
    Tony Robinson, a member of Lancashire Special Branch between 1965 and 1981, told the BBC how he visited MI5's registry. There were 'thousands and thousands of files. There must have been upwards of, if not more than, a million.' According to former MI5 officer Cathy Massiter, 'Whenever a major dispute came up it would immediately become a major area for investigation.'
    MI5 compiled 40 volumes each on Hugh Scanlon and Jack Jones, leaders of the TGWU and the AUEW unions. They were viewed much as Bob Crow and Mark Serwotka are today. The security services went for CND and the Anti-Apartheid Movement. They also investigated the National Council of Civil Liberties and its leaders Patricia Hewitt and Harriet Harman.
    They are now, respectively, trade and industry secretary and solicitor general. However, for all MI5's nastiness, it would be wrong to overestimate its importance. It didn't stop CND and anti-apartheid being huge movements. It didn't stop the miners winning in 1972 or 1974. Indeed, despite having Joe Gormley as an informer, MI5 told the government in 1972 that there would definitely be no strike.
    Ray Buckton did play a disgusting role during the miners' strike. He pushed through a terrible pay settlement on the rail in January 1985. This helped the Tories isolate the miners. But it is very doubtful that Buckton sold out because he was a spy. Other union leaders also settled key claims while the miners were fighting.
    Nor did the secret service briefings always do a great deal for their masters. Labour minister Barbara Castle describes in her diaries, 'Another security service report on the Ford dispute. The more I read these reports, the less confidence I have in our intelligence.
    'To begin with, the material is always mighty thin and most of it would be obvious anyway to an informed politician.' Castle once told me (and she wasn't being especially nice when she said it) that 'you could learn more from Socialist Worker than from the secret service'.
    The state has always sought to infiltrate the unions. From the earliest days there have been spies at work – and there undoubtedly still are some today in the unions and the anti-capitalist movement. True Spies exposed a little of what the state is really like – not neutral, wedded to the interests of the powerful and the rich, immune in critical areas to democracy.
    If this is what these people do in a strike, imagine what they would do if they faced a revolution. The state resorts to these measures because of a basic strength on our side. It's not spies who turn up in large numbers to support other workers on picket lines, but fellow trade unionists and socialists whose solidarity is the key to beating the bosses and their state.

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    Sat 2 Nov 2002, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1824
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