Radio Sandwell African / Caribbean News

Union apology after 1960s Bristol buses race row

2013-02-26 03:07:17

Guy Bailey

A trade union has publically apologised 50 years after it sided with management over a bus company's policy not to employ black staff.

In 1963 the Bristol Omnibus Company refused to employ black drivers or conductors, leading to a series of protests against the company.

Guy Bailey wanted to become a bus driver, but was told he had to become a conductor first.

Union boss Laurence Faircloth said it was "more than happy to apologise".

'Vacancies taken'

Mr Bailey said when he arrived for his appointment, the receptionist told the manager that "his two o'clock candidate had arrived and that he's black".

Mr Bailey said: "I heard the manager say, 'tell him all the vacancies are taken and there's no more'. I was really really disappointed,."

Some months later, after a series of protests, the union and bus company announced an end to the "colour bar".

Two weeks later Bristol had its first non-white bus conductor.

Mr Bailey said he had not previously had an apology, either from the bus company or the trade union.

Mr Faircloth, South West Secretary of Unite, the successor to the the Transport and General Workers Union, told Mr Bailey he offered the union's "sincere regret" for what he and the ethnic minority community in Bristol had endured half a century ago.

"It was completely unacceptable," Mr Faircloth said. "I can well accept the sense of injustice and pain that has been felt because what happened in Bristol all those years ago.

"I hope the apology goes some way to righting a great wrong."


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