ASLEF Annual Assembly of Delegates

01 July 2005

ASLEF President calls for government policy change

Welcoming the return of ‘an historic third term Labour government", ASLEF president Alan Donnelly today said ‘This is an historic opportunity to take the rail industry back into public ownership and public accountability and create social justice for the people of this nation".

Calling for changes in government policy ‘that reflect the real needs of ASLEF members and workers in general’ Alan Donnelly said ‘If that change does not occur then there has to be a leadership change.’

Calling for a ‘21st century signalling system, and the end of death trap level crossing’ Alan Donnelly said, ‘No longer are ASLEF members of the travelling public prepared to accept death and injury on the railways when there are preventative measures and new technology available.’

Dealing with industry specific problems he told delegates that the union had significant success in resolving the IVRS communication issue. ‘Let me make it clear’ he said ‘ASLEF members, under no circumstances, will accept axle counters if we thought for one moment that the companies and Network Rail would come along with a revised policy at a later date that would undermine safety.’

Note for non industry readers: 
[This passage refers to worries about the possibility that under new arrangements drivers might not get the same warning of factors that affect speed and safety as existed under the earlier ‘belt and braces’ procedures.]

Linking the issue of protecting jobs in the rail freight industry with deepening concerns about global warming and the environment he announced a new campaign for a ‘charter for freight’.

Looking ahead Alan Donnelly flagged up travel concessions for all ASLEF members, security of employment and protection of earnings as negotiating priorities. 

Earlier veteran ASLEF leader and retired honorary union member Bill Ronksleytold delegates that from its earliest days ASLEF had campaigned for rail safety.

In 1880 the newly formed union provided legal defence for a driver and fireman after a passenger train crash was caused by the failure of primitive vacuum braking systems. A jury had found the men not guilty. 

‘This unsafe method of freight train working continued for another but another hundred years and was responsible for numerous accidents.’

Congratulating the union on its safety campaigning Bill Ronksley said ‘The technology exists to cheaply, simply and quickly remove 99% of he risk element on level crossings.

‘Had such technology been in operation at Upton Nervet last November the stationary vehicle on the level crossing would have been detected and Broth Stan Martin and seven passengers would still be alive.’

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