THEY HAVE SAME HOURS AS IN 1919 London Transport Workers' Grievance
Although all London was late on Monday morning, and 'bus-goers found themselves considerably " put out," public opinion is mainly sympathetic with the London 'busmen in their strike for better working hours.
I spoke with a 'bus conductor a few hours before he took his holiday on Friday night. His point of view illustrates the attitude to the service of society and to personal rights, which, he assured me-, was " What most of us think."
" Sorry we'll be a nuisance. and all that," he said. " but, you know, what is to you just a nuisance is to us a part of our fight for reasonable working conditions.
" We're not asking very much, but what we are asking is very important to us. It's all the difference between a job being more than we can bear, and fair work."
The Facts in 1919 London 'busmen were granted the eight-hour working day.
Today they want a half-hour reduction. They say that modern conditions and the constant strain of speed-up is more than a man can stand.
In 1919 a 'bus carried only 34 passengers and travelled at 12 m.p.h. Today it carries 60 passengers and travels at 30 m.p.h., and the accompanying heavier traffic and more complicated restrictions make a 'bus-driver's job a very much harder affair than it was eighteen years ago.
Ample evidence to support the 'busmen's claim that their working conditions are too hard is to be found in the statistics which they publish. These have obviously been chosen to make the matter look as black as possible, but the facts as represented cannot be circumvented. They are taken from ' an official report, which states that during the last five years 3,785 'busmen have left the industry.
Of these, only 343 lived to the retiring age (65 yearse 877 died at average age of 52.
1.006 were discharged through illhealth at an average age of 46.
The others were discharged through disciplinary boards or left voluntarily at the average age of 34.
Under existing conditions only one 'busman in eleven can expect to live to the retiring age of 65.
'Buses were involved, in 1935, in 9,231
collisions; in 1936 in 10,039. Total accidents involving persons were, in 1935, 18,053; in 1936 this had risen to 21,323.
It appears that the increasing strain is also telling on the efficiency of the 'busmen. So it is in the interest of the passenger, the pedestrian, and the motorist as well as the 'busmen, that the demands for a 7# hour working day be met by the London Transport Board.
An incident in Trafalgar Square recently illustrated the combined effects of strain of actual work and the responsibility borne by the 'bus-driver. A sudden traffic stoppage caused the 'bus I was travelling in to just touch the back of the car in front; the 'bus following mine had not such good brakes, and crushed the back of the 'bus in front. No one was hurt, but the driver of the 'bus was taken to hospital suffering from acute shock and nervous prostration.
Among the 'busmen's grievances is that their lunch-hour break is non-existent because they have to catch up time lost during the run to keep the schedule. They snack on sandwiches eaten while working; consequently they all suffer from dyspepsia.
Why the Board Refuses
The London Transport Board say flatly that they cannot afford to allow the 'busmen their half-hour, because they have not got the money.
The 'busmen's representatives wave this statement aside, declaring that the L.P.T.B. have been paying an average dividend of 4.575 per cent. for several years. This rate is paid on the inflated capital (when, in 1933. the Board was formed it took over concerns whose capital was valued at £75,400,000. but placed a valuation of £97,100.000 on these undertakings. Today the capital of the Board is estimated at £117.800,000) which is equivalent to 6.17 percent.
oyears the 'busmen have been rt
For w negotiating with the Board for better work
ing conditions. First, they asked for a seven-hour day, but later said they would agree to a seven-and-a-half hour day. Further Comment—Page 8.