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New Left Review I/50, July-August 1968


‘Because I’m interested in trade union work, I think it makes me more interested in the overall running of a railway,’ writes this London Transport underground guard. B.W. is secretary of his local nur branch, and a delegate to the sectional council which deals with the LTB management. Convinced that the ‘membership is the union’, convinced that in an industry determined by politics political issues must be confronted, he faces the problem both of involving members in union work and of raising the political issues involved.

B.W.

Guard Underground

After 21 years as a guard and active trade unionist on the London underground, I can say that I enjoy being a railwayman. I started before the war when London Transport Board used to take on temporary staff for the annual leave season, and I became a temporary porter. I was 23 then. If you kept your nose clean, were good at the job and, most important, a regular attender, there was a chance come the end of the summer that you’d be kept on to replace men who were retiring. I was lucky to be kept on in my first year because I knew others who were temporaries for as long as five or six years. In those days work on London Transport was regarded as a job for life, it was one of the few places where there was any security.

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