A union objects to the employment of women drivers (1917)

In February 1917 the general secretary of London’s Licensed Vehicle Workers’ union sent the government this objection to the use and employment of women drivers, who he described as a “menace to the public”:

To: The Home Office
Re: Women drivers


Having reported the result of our interview this morning to my Executive Council I am instructed by them to request you to receive a deputation at your very earliest convenience, the number of which will be six.

My Executive Council view with alarm the action taken by the Home Office on this matter, and in face of Resolutions that have been passed at previous delegate meetings registering the hostility of the members to such an innovation they feel that serious consequences will ensue.

I would point out to you that already a very serious dispute has taken place at Croydon a few months back when two women were being taught to drive tramcars resulting in a cessation from work for many weeks, also upon women being appointed as mail drivers the men ceased work immediately, and as a result the women have since been withdrawn.

When one takes into consideration the huge number of accidents to persons and property, owing to the abnormal conditions prevailing as a result of the lighting order and war conditions, and this at a time when vehicles are being driven by men who are thoroughly experienced we feel that the menace to the public will be very largely augmented by the introduction of female licensed drivers.

I need hardly point out to you that we are very desirous of avoiding anything in the nature of a labour dispute and trust you will see the necessity of meeting an early deputation to hear our case.

Yours faithfully,
A Smith
General Secretary.