RT Tanner & Co Ltd


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The history of the firm R.T Tanner& Co

Worker relations

In April 1959 the editor of the trade circular wrote the following:

At the time of writing this article our thoughts are very much concerned with the negotiations taking place between the British Federation of Master Printers and the Unions.

The negotiations have apparently reached a stalemate and it seems likely that trouble may be in store for our industry. It is not for us to pass opinions on the rights and wrongs of the case, which have been carefully prepared at great length by both sides, but we feel we can at least make some facts which are not controversial, clear to all.

  • Male workers in the printing trade are the second highest paid in the Country
  • The women workers are the highest paid trade in the Country
  • We work the shortest basic hours of any trade
  • The printing trade never recovered the full increase granted to its employees in 1956. Although the paper mills have increased their output, the increase has not been in paper for the printing trade, but mainly in packaging and building boards
  • More work than ever before is being printed abroad and imported

Let all parties concerned consider in their negotiations, first the question of full employment. Ever since the was our trade has enjoyed full employment, and the number of trained employees out of work has been negligible. There is no doubt that a sharp increase in printing costs would result in unemployment. It is not much consolation to anyone out of work to know that his colleagues are enjoying an extra one pound a week.

In July 1959 the edition of highlight, trade circular, had a very different look as a result of industrial strife forecast months earlier.

This issue of our Journal is published under somewhat difficult conditions. As we were about to go to press, the printing dispute was upon us and we were forced to revert to this part-duplicated issue. We could, of course, have delayed issue until such time as the dispute was settled, but it is our policy not to let outside influences affect us, and we publish on the due date.

What a tragedy has hit our trade with 95% of printing employees on strike. A great deal has been said and written on the subject, and we propose to go into no details now, but merely to say that it is a dispute to decide who is to manage our print industry, the Companies or the Unions

Not many years ago this Country took up arms against a dictatorship, and although this may seem a strong comparison, there is the same dictatorship apparent in the union attitude -"Either you grant in total what we ask, or we withdraw our labour". No question of discussion on matters raised by the other side, no question of discussion in the reduction of hours only. Acquiese in our demands first and finally, is the union attitude.

Whatever the outcome may be of this strike, and in its present form it is likely to last several weeks, there will be no finality in any agreement unless it is settled amicably around a table. The first prelude to this must be some judicial ruling to allow the sides to come together to discuss these findings, in fcat "Arbitration".

As members of the British Federation of Master Printers and Envelope Makers and Manufacturing Stationers Association, we are fully involved in this dispute. We have no dispute with our own employees, who we know were mostly sorry to have to cease work. The Company was more involved than necessary. Paper merchants draw their labour from the N.U.P.W, but this particular group is not involved as yet in the dispute. However, as we pay our paper warehousemen the higher rate, which rules for warehousemen in a factory, our men were all called out on strike.

As the only paper firm concerned this way, we considered it victimisation. Accordingly the Board decided that we should keep supplies going to the best of our ability by using office staff and representatives, and right royally they responded. As we write this article we can say that we have managed to meet all demands upon us.

It looks fairly certain that the London Daily papers will be affected, as the ink manufacturers are now well involved. There is, of course, no doubt that if the strike does spread to the press, paper mills will be forced to close, and the result will be a quicker end to the dispute.

As far as we are concerned it cannot end soon enough, before irreparable damage is done to the industry.


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