Transport union marks anniversary of overturning racist recruitment policy at Euston station

Support us and go ad-free

Union leaders have praised the “brave actions” of a railway worker who overturned a racist recruitment policy in the 1960s.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) marked the 54th anniversary of the breaking of the ‘colour bar’ at London’s Euston station by pledging to continue its campaign against racism.

Asquith Xavier‎

On 15 August 1966, the colour bar at Euston station was defeated when West Indian guard Asquith Xavier was allowed to start work after initially being refused a job.

British Railways had announced, after negotiations with local leaders of the National Union of Railwaymen (NUR), that no grade would in future be closed on racial grounds anywhere in the London division.

The RMT’s assistant general secretary Mick Lynch said:

Today we remember the brave actions of Asquith Xavier and those NUR officials who supported him in a campaign which eventually defeated the colour bar at Euston station.

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

We owe so much to those who challenged racism on the railway in an era when it was all pervasive.

The union remains eternally vigilant in the fight against racism, and in this modern era of Black Lives Matter it is important we remember Asquith Xavier ‎and those trade unionists who blazed a trail for us over five decades ago.

Campaign to have the colour bar lifted at London stations

Xavier, who died in 1980, was part of the Windrush generation, moving to England from Dominica after the Second World War.

He had started work for British Railways in 1956 as a porter, working his way up to rail guard at Marylebone station in London.

Following the closure of the Marylebone main line as part of the Beeching rail cuts, guards were no longer required and were being transferred to stations such as Euston.

Xavier, an experienced guard, received a letter from management telling him that he had been rejected for a job at Euston.

Sid Greene, the general secretary of the NUR – now the RMT – contacted the British Rail Board about racist policies being practised in their name which he said had been a longstanding problem. Union officials said colour bars were in place in several London stations, but the NUR campaigned to have them all lifted.

A plaque will be unveiled next month at the train station in Chatham, Kent, where Xavier lived.

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us