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.
On 15 August 1966, the colour bar at Euston station was defeated when Asquith Xavier was allowed to start work after initially being refused a job.
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. We owe so much to those who challenged racism on the railway in an era when it was all pervasive.
Xavier joined British Railways. In 1966 he was working as a guard at Marylebone station in central London. He applied for a promotion and transfer to work at Euston station, but was rejected. A letter from a staff committee at Euston—which was dominated by members of the National Union of Railwaymen—explained that it was because of his colour. Unions and management had informally agreed in the 1950s to ban non-white people from jobs at Euston involving contact with the public; they could be cleaners and labourers, but not guards or ticket collectors.