Organised labour comes hurtling down the track

One of the countless hobbies the Lady Wife and I enjoy is our love of industrial archaeology. Many is the time that you’ll find us yomping along some abandoned railway line or perhaps helping to dig up an old tramway.

However, the day job has its own bit of industrial archaeology to go with it too – and I’m not referring to our dear chairman.

No, it’s the trade unions, steeped as they are in tradition and history.

Although we don’t deal with them, I’ve always liked the sound of the Amalgamated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen – less affectionately known as Aslef.

The fact that locomotive engineers and firemen disappeared with the age of steam doesn’t seem to bother them one bit, and the fact that it’s an ‘amalgamated society’ suggests that the two men on the footplate were once actually members of different unions.

Of course, this is the way we employers have always liked it. It might have been a bit of a mess dealing with 14 unions, but as I used to say then: “Rather that than a single all-powerful one.”

Well, you know as well as I do what’s hurtling its way down the tracks towards us, so I thought it was time I took Tony, a regional organiser, for a quiet beer.

“Don’t do beer any more Hartley – perhaps we could hook up over a dry white wine. Let’s drop a date into the PDA… Annabel’s at 7pm perhaps?”

That really sent a shiver down my spine, I can tell you – sounded a little too much like organised labour for my liking.



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