Leeds nostalgia: Strike passes peacefully

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On this day in 1945, Leeds city centre came to a standstill after a strike march by transport workers.

By Saturday September 29, the strike was already into its fifth day but showed no signs of ending. Strikers marched in an orderly fashion through Leeds city centre on the afternoon and there were no incidents reported.

However, members of the Coroporation’s Transport Committee were refusing to talk to representatives from the Transport and General Workers Union until its members returned to work, which the union was against.

Trams and buses were still running though, with a total of 260 on the road.

The strikers marched through Swinegate and according to a report in the Yorkshire Evening Post from the time “among them were many women, some with shopping baskets.”

Strikers were told by their own representatives to keep order and not to react to taunts, as the police had the names of organisers and would hold them responsible for any disturbances.

The strike appears to have been over working hours and in particular the amount some drivers were being paid for a shift. Normally, drivers worked two shifts, their hours being split but there was also another shift known as a ‘spreadover duty’, which meant the driver working 13-and-a-half hours, or at least being on call for that length of time.

Owing to the calculations agreed by the union, such shifts would only actually require the driver to work for eight-and-a-half hours but be paid for 11-and-a-half.

This meant they received more money than drivers doing the normal split shift and it is understood the corporation was trying to ‘normalise’ this arrangement.

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