Apr 2009 - ASLEF means members, not numbers

01 June 2013

ASLEF recently received a copy of a letter sent to a former RMT member by Bob Crow urging him to stay in membership of RMT and not join ASLEF. The member concerned has joined ASLEF following his appointment to the grade of train driver.

In the letter Mr Crow refers to our union as an ‘employer friendly organisation’ and a ‘club’. He goes on to point out that the RMT is a ‘trade union’ - inferring that ASLEF is not. In reality - a state Mr Crow rarely experiences - he should be concerned about how many of his traditional members are dissatisfied with the way his union represents them, and question why they want to join other organisations. I’ve recently reluctantly returned a number of application forms from conductors who are very dissatisfied with Mr Crow and his union.

The comments in his letter about our trade union are nothing less than disgraceful. We have referred it to the TUC - but don’t hold out much hope of seeing action from this body.

Last year Mr Crow authorised the production of a DVD seeking to recruit train drivers which also attempted to show our union in a derogatory light. We sent it to the TUC with a formal complaint. The toothless TUC is content to stand by while our union is attacked. In the numbers game we matter very little to the TUC.

On the question of numbers, Unite’s Mr Tony (‘I’ve got two million members’) Woodley considers that ASLEF has no right to represent our members at Croydon Tramlink. Three quarters of the drivers there willingly joined ASLEF and worked hard with us to secure formal recognition. We represented our members at Croydon for over eight years, and have worked very well with UNITE at the depot. However, Mr Woodley has now lodged a complaint about ASLEF with the TUC and yes - you have guessed it - the TUC immediately responded by sending us a letter requesting a meeting at Congress House.

ASLEF won’t repeat the mistake we made at Manchester Metro when the TUC produced a letter signed by a former ASLEF general secretary giving away our recruitment rights at Metro.

Thanks to our membership at Croydon and to Steve Grant and Terry Wilkinson we have formal recognition with the company. We will not give up our members there, and we will not surrender our formal recognition.

Derogatory attacks on our union are born from jealousy and envy.

Some trade union leaders cannot live with the fact that ASLEF is a strong, independent, effective, and now financially sound union with a very loyal membership. ASLEF members are members, not numbers on a union balance sheet. Long may this remain.

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