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The end of my involvement. John Carter

supervisor training

There was always an uneasy relationship between the RTITB and Commercial Trainers simply because they ran FLT courses too and were seen as serious competitors, but we rubbed along together until the RTITB moved control of their Approval system from Wembly to MOTEC.

Their manager chose not to move and accepted early retirement and we expected them to promote one of their examiners. But they recruited a new man. Initially there were no changes, in fact in response to an enquiry I sat down with him and we constructed a 10 day course for tow tractor operator instructors with an end of course examination.

The course took place in the building next door to the Eastenders set and we had to share their canteen and toilet facilities and join them for a drink in the Old Vic which is licensed for just 1 hour every lunchtime.

The course was very successful and we tried to sell the concept to the BBC but all we got for our troubles was foul mouthed abuse from their union reps. I spent a lot of time there with their safety officer but to no avail. They were more militant than Liverpool dockers and their tow tractor driving was appalling. The damage to sets on their trailers must have cost a fortune, but they were a law to themselves.

Shortly after this the new manager began to change his attitude towards commercial trainers insisting that they did as he told them. As an example he decided that all safety posters would be a standard size. Well, back then they were similar, varying by a few millimeters dependent upon which supplier you purchased them from. He instructed the examiner/monitors to measure them and if they did not conform to his standard measurement they were to tear them down and destroy them. One of the examiners phoned me and told me about that instruction and asked me to have a word with him. I drove up to MOTEC and walked into his office and told him what I thought of him and warned him that if any of his staff destroyed anything in any of my 4 training centers, I would sue him personally for criminal damage.

He came up with all sorts of similar ideas which I ignored but most commercial trainers came to the conclusion that he was trying to force them out of business. It got so bad that Jim Brown of Train-a-lift called a meeting and he invited me to attend. It was held at his training center on a Saturday morning and I was surprised at how many people turned up. I counted 85 but that may not have been all of them and it was obvious that emotions were running high.

Jim was stood on a pile of pallets trying to control them but it was a real Irish parliament. Jim asked me to speak to them and I was really shocked, because when I got up alongside him they went quiet. I had always known that I had their respect but because I had trained quite a lot of them, but not like this.

So I told them that if they genuinely felt threatened they must stop talking about it and do something about it. They asked what and I suggested writing to the Director General of the RTITB but one or two said they had tried that and had not had a response. I had to think on my feet then and suggested that we form an Association, so that we had a collective voice That was discussed and we came up with the Association of Industrial Truck Trainers (AITT) and a small committee was formed which they asked me to chair. (Webmaster: I served on that first committee).

So I held a committee meeting there and then and we decided to create an entirely independent approval body which did not run FLT courses or in any way compete with its members and as I had been involved in creating the RTITB system They asked me to help them get it off the ground. So I called for volunteers to form a committee and we agreed to meet again in two weeks time when we would have the bones of a scheme. I allocated tasks to this new committee and Jim undertook to sponsor the next meeting on a Saturday in two weeks time, but it would be in a hotel.

I invited the new RTITB Manager to the meeting and he turned up and simply sat there making copious notes. He spoke to no one. I also invited George Coates Director General of BITA to the meeting having explained to him what had happened and what we were attempting. At the meeting I explained what I had managed to put together and it was met with enthusiasm. George Coates offered to act as secretariat for the new approval bodies first year and to provide an office at BITA’s HQ in Ascot.

I offered to pump prime it for the first year by paying its bills in the form of a nil interest loan. So the first independent approval scheme called ITSSAR was up and running. George recruited a lady named Linda as an administrator and once she understood what was required she was dynamic and ITSSAR became a success. Linda and her husband eventually took over the ownership of ITSSAR. I could add a lot more but most of it would be irrelevant.

I was suffering with stress and fell out with the Chairman of Linde. He ordered me to close our 3 subsidiaries. Tudor Lodge Hotel, Trainex and Midlands Training, giving the staff just a weeks notice to cancel forward bookings and lock the places up. I thought tat was a cruel way to treat people and told him so. However I cannot remember what I said to him, or getting back from Germany, but apparently I did as he instructed on the Friday and was taken into a mental hospital of the Monday.

It was a terrible place, in fact a few weeks after I left it was raided and closed by the police and several people went to prison for the appalling was they treated patients. I was only in for 5 weeks.

When I came out I was still ill and had a sick note, but I decided to pop in to FTT to check on the order book and read the latest P & L report. What a shock I got. I discovered that 2 days after I went into hospital I had ben given early retirement with 3 days per week consultancy as a sweetener. My Secretary had been promoted into my job. I had to decide whether to take them to a tribunal or get better. I chose the latter.

This is the end of John's article but, of course, the story carries on so i have written a supplementary section to this one which brings us up to date. You can read this here.