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Met-Camm 6/8-car Blue Pullman


Staff Difficulties

In the spring of 1954 the British Transport Commission had made an offer to the holders of the ordinary shares of the Pullman Car Company. This was accepted by a majority of the shareholders and, in June of '54, the BTC became the owners of the whole of the equity of the Pullman Car Company. The Pullman Car Company also had outstanding £386,000 of an authorised issue of £500,000 of 4 ½ per cent cumulative redeemable preference stock. The owners of this stock had no voting rights and the holdings were not distributed. So the Pullman Car Company became wholly owned by the BTC subject to the rights of the preference stock, and continued to be directed by a board appointed by the BTC and the former management remained unaltered.

The National Union of Railwaymen resisted the plan to operate these diesel-electric sets as Pullman cars, and its objection seems to based on the ineradicable impression that the Pullman Car Company was still a private enterprise undertaking. The permanent officials of the NUR should have been aware of the purchase by the BTC in 1954, but the problem persisted. Even when it was explained that the Commission owned the whole of the company equity capital, reference was sometimes made to the public holding of the Company's preference shares, and while these were publicly held the conviction would persist that it was a private enterprise.

A vital factor in the controversy was the question of manning the trains. The BTC stated that they were being introduced to retain and perhaps recapture some of the passenger traffic already lost to road and air, and the timing of the 'Midland Pullman' was especially determined to compete with the air services between Manchester and London.

As a first step to resolving the difficulties the board of the Pullman Car Company offered to abandon its separate agreement with the NUR under which there was an appreciable difference in working conditions between Pullman staff and men working in British Railways restaurant cars, and instead to adopt the rates and conditions for restaurant car staff.

Working of Blue Pullman

At the same time an undertaking was given jointly by the BTC and the Pullman Car Company in collaboration with the British Transport Hotels & Catering Services that no redundancy should occur among restaurant staff as a result of the introduction of the new Pullman trains, and the Pullman Car Company undertook to offer all vacancies to existing restaurant car staff. The NUR made another claim in this connection. This was that the men recruited in this way from restaurant cars should be treated as being on loan from the restaurant car services so that in case of need they could revert to their former service and pickup their former seniority. It was initially agreed that this period of loan should be six months, but later the claim was made that it should be for a year. The arrangement was then changed to an indefinite basis.

Staff so recruited wore the Pullman uniform and came under the Pullman Company management for discipline, with the right of appeal jointly to the management of the Pullman Car Company and to BTC Hotels & Catering Services.

No alterations were made in the British Railways restaurant car services between Manchester and London as a result of the introduction of the 'Midland Pullman' and there were, therefore, no direct redundancy. The Pullman Car Company was able to recruit staff based on Manchester. The train was introduced manned by restaurant car men on loan and five Pullman Car Company men allocated on a temporary basis to help its establishment. These five staff included a conductor, one senior chef, and three senior attendants in charge of stocks. Similar methods were followed in the WR.

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