Memorandum by the Trades Union Congress
A NEW DEAL FOR TRANSPORT
The TUC welcomes the White Paper A New Deal
for Transport as marking a historic turning point in UK transport
policy. UK transport policy has lacked strategic thinking and
adequate investment for far too long. The transport White Paper
promises a fully co-ordinated transport policy which will benefit
the travelling public, the economy and the environment. This must
be a priority for early legislation.
The TUC sees an effective transport policy as
crucial to national, regional, local and personal development.
Such a policy must be based on:
economic development within all parts
of the nation;
more efficient use of scarce resources;
the needs of rural areas;
the enhancement of town and city
the promotion of social inclusion;
the highest standards of safety and
recognition of the worth of the public
sector as well as the private sector;
highly trained and well-motivated
The TUC believes that A New Deal for Transport
scores highly when judged against these criteria. The effects
of the proposals in the White Paper are likely to be far-reaching
and to further significantly the Government's commitment to create
a better and more integrated transport system.
The rest of this paper will concentrate on the
likely obstacles to implementation. However, the following comments
should be considered in the light of the TUC's firm commitment
to an integrated transport policy and our support for the New
Deal For Transport White Paper.
2. LOCAL TRANSPORT
The TUC welcomes the enhanced role for local
authorities announced in the White Paper. The power to devise
and implement comprehensive Local Transport Plans has great potential
to help local authorities to improve and to integrate transport
provision in their areas. This emphasis on local action and local
consultation will also support the aim of improving local democracy
outlined in the Modern Local Government White Paper by
making council decisions more important to local people and to
It is vital, however, that local authorities
are given sufficient financial freedom to ensure that the measures
proposed in A New Deal for Transport can be properly funded.
The TUC has stressed its concerns about the tensions between the
new roles and powers planned for local authorities and the constraints
on local government finances in our response to the DETR Green
Paper and in our submission to the Environment, Transport and
Regional Affairs Select Committee Local Government Finance Inquiry.
Given the growing importance of strategic thinking
at a regional level and the tendency of transport issues to extend
beyond local authority boundaries, there is also a strong case
for replicating the local transport plan arrangements by the introduction
of regional transport plans. A form of regional transport authority
will be needed to implement this.
If the public are to be persuaded to make greater
use of public transport then they will need to have a sophisticated
mechanism for delivering feedback to the providers. New consumer
bodies with ombudsman powers will be needed at both local and
3. BUS TRAVEL
The TUC sees an urgent need for action to counter
the depredations of bus deregulation and to give high quality
bus services a central role in the development of integrated local
transport policies. It is strongly desirable that the proportion
of journeys undertaken by bus increases even if this requires
an increased use of public subsidies in order to support routes
which are financially uneconomic but are strategically and socially
4. RAIL TRAVEL
Rail privatisation was carried out with undue
haste by the previous Government, leaving the network in an unstable
and fragmented condition. The rail system lacks proper investment
and is failing the nation in terms of customer satisfaction, reliability
and service integration.
The TUC believes that the deficiencies in the
Railways Act (1993) are central to many of the problems facing
the rail industry and welcomes Government plans for stronger regulation.
The establishment of a statutory Strategic Rail Authority
is now an urgent priority. This authority should address the following
tasks, which we believe to be measures which are vital to the
future success of the railway network:
introduce stronger penalties for
provide a revitalised role for the
British Railways Board which would facilitate its use as a vehicle
for the return of any failed franchise to the public sector;
guarantee network benefits including
simplified, flexible and affordable fare structures and national
deliver on planned investment levels;
ensure the provision and quality
of the national timetable with the associated passenger information
ensure the co-operation of all parties
in providing a national integrated network.
The TUC is also concerned at the amount of rail
property which is sold to private developers. Some recent decisions
will affect the ability to develop the rail network and are contrary
to the best long-term interests of the railways.
The White Paper recognises that the integration
of aviation into a seamless, intermodal transport system is desirable.
The TUC is concerned, however, that the Treasury's "preferred
option" of selling a 51 per cent holding in National Air
Traffic Control Services will damage the capacity for aviation
to be integrated into the Government's vision for the future of
transport. Previous transport privatisation has been characterised
by major staff reductions, raising concerns about the effect on
Effective air traffic control is vital for both
the efficiency and the safety of air transport. Previous Government
examinations of National Air Traffic Control concluded
that it was not suitable for privatisation. The TUC therefore
hopes that the current consultation process on Public Private
Partnerships for NATs will fully consider alternative methods
for raising investment capital, looking particularly at the methods
used in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.
The TUC welcomes the stress in the White Paper
on the importance and the potential of shipping. However, the
British shipping industry is now in such a serious condition that
urgent measures are needed to ensure its survival. In the past
20 years the number of UK owned and registered vessels (500 gt
and above) has fallen from 1,143 to just 231. Over the same period,
the number of seafarers employed in the British shipping industry
has fallen from more than 80,000 to less than 20,000. The annual
intake of cadets is around 40 per cent of the 1,300 needed.
In August 1998, a major British shipping employer
announced that it would be making 330 UK ratings redundant and
replacing them with Filipino seafarers. This case illustrates
the acute nature of the problems now faced by shipping.
Maritime safety is also highly dependent upon
specialist skills and experience. The serious shortfalls in officer
recruitment have created a growing deficit in British maritime
expertise. The implications for the safe operation of ships and
support services required for safe navigation are profound. The
White Paper makes a series of important proposals about safety.
The dialogue needs to be extended to address the crucial issue
of UK maritime skills and experience.
7. ROAD FREIGHT
The TUC recognises the general reasoning behind
the Government's aim of decreasing the proportion of freight carried
by road and supports the development of alternative modes of freight
transport. This modal shift would be particularly suited to the
transportation of bulk freight. However, policy will need to continue
to recognise the practical limitations of rail and marine transport.
For instance, national food retailer chains would find it difficult
to develop an alternative to the current "multi-drop"
The TUC strongly supports the proposals to promote
higher safety and environmental standards in the road haulage
industry. A strategy for sustainable freight transport must be
underpinned by the proper regulation of road freight drivers hours.
Excessive working hours in the transport industry inevitably lead
to high levels of fatigue, accidents, ill-health and detrimental
social effects for drivers.
As many drivers currently rely on working long
hours in order to maintain their earnings, we must attempt the
dual task of reducing hours and safeguarding earnings. In a recent
submission to the DTI, the TUC argued that the Drivers' Hours
Regulations should be brought into line with the working time
directive and that own-account drivers should be covered by the
legislation. If own-account drivers are treated differently, then
employers may be tempted to outsource to avoid the legislation.
This would result in a further loss of employment in the industry
as well as the loss of the potential benefits to road transport
safety and to health.
8. CAR TRAFFIC
We recognise very clearly that an integrated
transport policy must involve a shift in emphasis away from the
current reliance on road transport. The guiding principle in implementing
the shift should be the extension of choice for motorists by making
public transport more attractive. Public transport needs to become
of sufficient quality and quantity that it can ensure widespread
use by motorists and non-motorists alike.
When measures are being designed to make care
travel less attractive, they should be sensitive enough to take
account of the availability of alternatives to car travel. It
would be reasonable to expect motorists to use public transport
more often where good networks exist, it would not be reasonable
to apply disincentives to, for example, shift workers who must
travel at times when public transport is not operating. Conversely,
public transport provision will need to become more sensitive
to the pattern of demand so that choice is extended. This will
rest largely on the integration of transport timetables and modes
at major interchanges in order to make public transport more user-friendly.
However, the number of hours in the day when public transport
is available may also need to be extended. This may mean that
more work has to be undertaken during unsocial hours by public
transport staff and would thus need to be subject to negotiation
and consultation with employees and their trade unions.
The degree to which measures are sensitive to
the availability of alternatives and the extent to which genuine
alternatives are available are likely to be the two key factors
in deciding whether measures to shift the emphasis away from car
use will succeed when evaluated in terms of efficiency, fairness
9. TRANSPORT SAFETY
The TUC acknowledges that there may be cross-fertilisation
benefits to be gained from the formation of a single independent
safety authority. There is also concern, however, that there is
some potential for the dilution of the specialist expertise required
in each sector. This could be of particular importance for shipping,
given both the international nature of the industry and the ease
with which shipowners can transfer their ships to different regimes.
The review of the transport safety regime should examine such
concerns and must ensure that bodies charges with overseeing transport
safety are properly funded.
10. ADDRESSING THE
A NECESSARY CONDITION
It is now clearly recognised that the most successful
organisations gain advantages from building high-trust partnership
relationships with their employees. A highly-motivated and highly-trained
workforce, who are informed and consulted about business decisions
and who have some control over their own work organisation, can
prove to be a remarkable source of innovation. Therefore, leading-edge
organisations really do value their employees as their greatest
In order to maximise the benefits of an integrated
transport policy it will thus be necessary to pay due attention
to encouraging personnel management best practice. There are a
number of cases in the transport industry which are currently
a long way from achieving this necessary condition for success.
In the maritime sector, the growing use of flags of convenience
has led to cases of appalling safety and labour practices in the
merchant shipping industry. The forthcoming DETR document on shipping
policy represents an opportunity to address this difficult problem.
Similarly, the deregulation of the bus industry
has led to real drops in bus workers' earnings. The demotivational
effects of pay cutting have been clearly outlined by organisational
psychologists since the 1950s. Again, the forthcoming DETR document
is a chance to address this perverse outcome of the policies of
the previous Government.
Reducing road freight transportation also has
implications for employment. The TUC believes that the development
of the integrated transport policy should take account of the
likely employment effects, in order to support the Government's
employment aims and to minimise any detrimental motivational,
social and economic effects caused by the shift of modal emphasis.
The use of the Private Finance Initiative
(PFI) for transport projects which involve staff presents a particular
challenge for achieving personnel best practice.
There is a real danger that the use of PFI will
establish a new employment sector where workers are paid less
and have inferior terms and conditions than those in comparable
jobs who are directly employed in the public sector. There is
a particular risk of this happening when a PFI project recruits
a new group of employees rather than transferring in existing
public sector employees. The existence of the PFI sector within
the transport industry may also cause the bidding down of terms
and conditions of public sector employees in the industry. This
would preclude the formation of the optimal high-trust partnership
relationships. Rather, it would result in lower morale and would
lead to lower standards of service.
The simplest and most effective way of preventing
this outcome would be for Parliament to adopt a new Fair Wages
Resolution which was consistent with the requirements of the EU
procurement directives. This would establish that the Government
intends to set an example of good employment practice and would
ensure that private sector contractors entering into PFI projects
are aware that they must compete by managing resources effectively
rather than by wage cutting.
Second, the Government should take steps to
strengthen the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment)
regulations (TUPE) in order to protect public service employees
who transfer to PFI schemes or from PFI schemes to the directly
The Government should undertake the following
reforms as a matter of urgency:
Revise the definition of a transfer
in TUPE 1981 to ensure that the rights of workers are protected
in all cases of out sourcing of public services, including PFI.
Furthermore, the Government should
take up the options in the new Acquired Rights Directive to extend
TUPE 1981 to protect pension rights.
Third, the new Treasury guidelines for PFI include
the right for staff to be consulted. Although these guidelines
will not mirror the full protection which would be provided by
a Fair Wages Resolution or by the extension of TUPE, they
are a very welcome step in the right direction. Consequently the
TUC looks forward to early discussions with the DETR about their
11. THE URGENT
The TUC regards the New Deal for Transport
programme as a vital contribution towards our nation's progress.
We are therefore very concerned about the speculation that a full-scale
Transport Bill may not be included in this year's Queen's Speech,
delaying the implementation of the measures outlined in the White
Paper until at least the summer of 2000.
Taking the New Deal for Transport programme
forward is of the utmost importance in maximising economic growth,
protecting the environment, extending citizen's choice and for
building an inclusive society. The TUC therefore urges the Government
to include a comprehensive Transport Bill in next year's programme