Obituary: Sir Richard Hayward
Tuesday 08 March 1994
RICHARD HAYWARD, like many trade-union leaders of his generation, rose from a modest working- class background to become a knight of the realm, starting out as a Post Office messenger boy and later moving into the higher echelons of the Civil Service, where he became a formidable chief negotiator.
Colleagues remember Dick Hayward as a skilled negotiator and 'fixer', with some of his closest friends alleging that he brilliantly negotiated settlements before he had even lodged the claims. This enabled him to convince his membership that he had won almost everything he had set out to achieve. His natural humour and modesty would have resulted in denials of such extraordinary behaviour but his familiar knowing wink would have told its own story.
In Hayward's later years militants accused him of drifting over to the 'other side', citing his position on the Post Office Board as an example. This upset him greatly, because he was an emotional man at the best of times. Those closest to him, however, knew that he had never forgotten his roots and had never stopped caring about other people.
One of three sons, he was born into a postman's family in Catford, south London, in 1910, and attended the local Catford Central School, where he excelled as a footballer and cricketer. His grandfather had also been a postman and when Dick left school at 14 he likewise joined the Post Office as a boy messenger. He later became a counter clerk.
During the Second World War his expert knowledge of Morse code enabled him to assist in the breaking of many codes of the German High Command. He intercepted many of Rommell's orders from North Africa and his phenomenal reading speed enabled code-breakers to baffle the enemy. It was this experience of telegraphy which introduced him to the world of trade-unionism, and after wartime service he was promoted through the union's ranks. It was no surprise to his family that this likeable young upstart should become a leader of the Union of Post Office Workers. He became Assistant Secretary in 1947 and Deputy General Secretary in 1951 before moving to the Civil Service Staff Side four years later.
Hayward was the first occupant of the newly created post of Secretary-General of the Civil Service National Whitley Council (Staff Side) in 1955, a post he held for 11 years. He was plunged immediately into crucial negotiations because he had to contend with the report of the Royal Commission on the Civil Service.
The Royal Commission had recommended a package settlement which was unacceptable to the staff and it fell to him to lead negotiations for improvements. His skill in negotiation and his capacity to win the confidence of experienced, sceptical colleagues was soon demonstrated. The Staff Side had found a leader worthy to succeed a famous earlier leader, Sir Albert Day. As the years passed Hayward's leadership and tactical skill enabled a formerly diverse staff movement to act in unity. 'Collective action,' he used to say, 'is not spontaneously created, it has to be worked and fought for.' Management conceded that the Official Side had been confronted with a formidable adversary in full command of his case and with a perfect sense of timing.
Nevertheless, he was a scrupulously fair opponent who never took advantage of a mistake or misunderstanding. His first principles were to set and follow the highest standards and good industrial relations were always his priority. Anyone failing to reach his standards received short shrift and many who deemed themselves to be of a superior intellect were regularly confounded by his depth of knowledge. Former associates said he had made a lasting impact on his colleagues on both sides of the Whitley machinery.
Two particular arbitration victories gave him immense satisfaction - the first on central pay in 1962, when the tribunal awarded 4 per cent as compared with an offer of only 2 per cent (thus breaching Whitehall's 'guiding light' on pay). The second was a reduction in working hours in 1964 in face of an outright rejection of the Staff Side's claim. Hayward himself probably felt most satisfaction in his work for pensioners, who were his constant concern over the years and nobody did more to ensure that retired civil servants shared in the benefits obtained by their serving colleagues.
On other pension matters, notably the campaign for the reckoning in full of unestablished service, he waged unrelenting warfare on the Establishment. He wrote personally to every MP, winning support from leaders of all parties, making direct approaches to successive Chancellors of the Exchequer. He left no method of attack neglected.
His services to the Whitley movement for settling the pay and conditions of civil servants were not confined to Britain and his advice and help were regularly sought overseas, particularly in the field of collective bargaining and arbitration. He regularly visited Mauritius, Israel and Canada to give advice on relations between governments and staff and he was a member of a Committee of Experts set up to examine the question of the International Labour Organisation in Geneva.
When he retired in 1966 his senior colleagues said the Civil Service had lost the services of an outstanding leader. In tribute they said his keen sense of humour had headed off many threatened storms by introducing 'light relief' at the right time.
His talents did not go unrecognised and he was in great demand by Whitehall, whose senior officials appointed him to serve on numerous Commissions, including, as chairman, the Supplementary Benefits Commission.
In recognition of his services the Post Office invited him on to the board as a director of industrial relations for two years from 1969 to 1971. This was the saddest part of his career, because the bitter postal workers' strike of 1971 soured his relations with many union activists. Honorary life membership of his old union was removed, an event which distressed him greatly.
In his social life he was a keen sportsman, enjoying cricket and football in that order and in his retirement he co-authored a book about Civil Service cricket.
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