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John Jenkins

JJ entered BR service on 30th Oct 1972 as a Probationer in the S&T Department at Gloucester.   He was the last Probationer on BR - the following year they renamed the scheme 'Trainee Technician'.  Following 3 years on the Training Scheme and a spell as a Technician at Gloucester Panel Signal Box, JJ entered the Signaling Design Office in Reading, and in due course swapped the (former) NUR for TSSA membership - cheaper and a lot more professional!   JJ attended Branch Meetings at Reading, and after entering junior Line Management as S&T Supervisor for the 'Marches' line (Hereford Area) transferred to the quaintly named(former) East Wales and  Monmouthshire Managers and Supervisors Branch.   Subsequent moves to Bristol and Exeter saw more Branch moves, and about 1987 was elected as a Local Rep at Bristol, eventually becoming the Management Rep for West of England S&T Staff - at the same time JJ was also the Management Side Chairman of the Wages Grade LDC!
 
At disaggregation in April 1994, JJ became part of Railtrack - managing maintenance staff by contract.  Railtrack owned the entire railway without the trains - but those maintaining it, like the trains and 'TOC/FOC' staff,  remained with BR to be broken up and disposed of piecemeal to some pretty greedy private outfits. Staff wise Railtrack comprised about 6000 Signalmen, and 6000 Management Grades involved in Control, Track Access for TOCs/FOCs,  and specifying and managing work on the infrastructure.   After only a matter of months Railtack wrote to its Management Staff giving 6 months notice of withdrawal from the inherited BR Machinery of Negotiation, on the basis that they considered it inappropriate!  So followed some seven years of 'informal' networks by such people as John (Craggy) Davis at York, Clive James at Birmingham, and David Northey and JJ on Western.   After some near walkouts in York Control 'defused' by Craggy, there began to be acceptance by Railtrack that perhaps formal bargaining might not be a bad thing after all, but it took the landmark Ballot organised by John Munday of TSSA under the terms of the 1999 'Employee Relations' legislation for them to accept it.  Along with most of the other 'network' JJ became an official regional rep for Western.    Then the bad news - Network Rail had taken over and within months they orchestrated 'Operation Violet' to forcibly and arbitrarily get rid of 600 Management Grade Staff in 2003. Again John Munday's skillful lead of us managed to get enhanced terms for those poor souls.   After a start with Reading area in 2003, in 2004 the remaining 18000 Maintenance Staff nationally were re-unified into NR and with a few others JJ was instrumental with negotiating the new bargaining structure for Management Staff.   A period on the National Council followed, then a functional rep for the remaining years.   JJ always tried to be fair to all - when he felt Higher Management were right he'd say so.   His real specialisations were Travel Facilities, Pensions, and Conditions of Service, and he helped a significant number of individuals who suffered redundancy, particularly as victims of NR's HQ move to Milton Keynes in understanding what their pension options were making tax efficient use of their redundancy sum. What made JJ become a rep - seeing too many staff being shabbily treated largely thro' management tricks and to a lesser extent their own ignorance.
 
High Points for JJ - the protections for travel and pensions enshrined in the Railways Act 1993, due in large part to the efforts of TSSA alone among the Railway Unions in reading the small print and then lobbying the small bunch of Tory 'rebel' MPs led by the late Robert Adley MP - with Labour and Opposition parties opposing the act anyway there was no point in lobbying them as it was only the Tory rebels who could influence their Government - the very fact that we still have a joint industry scheme taking new members takes its roots from TSSA's stance 20 years ago;  and very much up to date that at long last after years of badgering against NR point blank refusals is that they have finally decided to offer Voluntary Severance to Management Staff.  
 
Western to the core,  JJ retired as Senior Asset Engineer, (Signaling), NR Western, specialising in Level Crossing Control systems, and 'Heritage' Mechanical Signaling systems.
 

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