Union leaders have praised the “brave actions” of a railway worker who overturned a racist recruitment plan in the sixties.
The Rail, Maritime and Transportation union (RMT) marked the 54th anniversary of the breaking of the colour bar at London’s Euston station by pledging to go on its campaign towards racism.
On fifteen August 1966, the colour bar at Euston station was defeated when Asquith Xavier was permitted to start off perform soon after initially currently being refused a work.
The RMT’s assistant normal secretary, Mick Lynch, mentioned: “Today we try to remember the courageous actions of Asquith Xavier and individuals NUR officers who supported him in a campaign which finally defeated the colour bar at Euston station. We owe so significantly to individuals who challenged racism on the railway in an era when it was all pervasive.
“The union continues to be eternally vigilant in the battle towards racism, and in this present day era of Black Lives Make a difference it is essential we try to remember Asquith Xavier and individuals trade unionists who blazed a path for us more than 5 decades back.”
Xavier, who died in 1980, was aspect of the Windrush generation, going to England from Dominica soon after the second entire world war.
He labored for British Railways in 1956 as a porter, working his way up to rail guard at Marylebone station in London. Soon after the closure of the Marylebone major line as aspect of the Beeching rail cuts, guards had been no longer expected and had been currently being transferred to stations these kinds of as Euston. Xavier, an seasoned guard, acquired a letter from management telling him that he had been rejected for a work at Euston.
Black staff had been barred from using work opportunities as guards and porters at Euston station while Irish staff at Paddington had been restricted to labouring roles in the goods yard and identical restrictions utilized at other stations.
The Euston colour bar was very first designed general public in 1966 by James Prendergast, an NUR – now the RMT – formal at Marylebone.
But as much back again as June 1961, the Communist celebration newspaper, the Everyday Employee, noted that the South Paddington Labour celebration had requested that British Railway examine instantly the ban on employment of staff from BAME backgrounds at Paddington Station.
Sid Greene, the normal secretary of the NUR, contacted the British Rail Board about racist procedures currently being practised in their identify, which he mentioned had been a longstanding issue.
A Guardian short article at the time noted that Leslie Leppington, the British Railways divisional supervisor, declared soon after final negotiations with regional leaders of the NUR that no quality would in foreseeable future be closed to staff from BAME history in any placement in the London division. He was ready to appoint a thoroughly skilled BAME stationmaster, and volunteered to resign if discrimination could ever again be proved.
The abandonment of the racist plan, which persisted for 12 several years at Euston, was bolstered by the British Railways Board.
Barbara Castle, the minister of transportation, mentioned in a published letter that the board had “re-emphasised to all involved in the course of the undertaking the require for vigilance to protect against discrimination, and for utilizing every endeavour to resolve … problems when they do arise”.
A plaque will be unveiled up coming thirty day period at the train station in Chatham, Kent, where by Xavier lived.