ASLEF Annual Assembly of Delegates

01 July 2005

Take heed of working people says T&G leader

The results of the historic election of third term Labour government are a warning T&G assistant general secretary Barry Camfield told ASLEF delegates.

‘Labour needs to take heed of what working people and their trade unions want or lose contact with its core vote’ he said. ‘It is time for labour to listen and to change.’

‘And it does not help for Gordon Brown to argue for the retention of the opt-out from the Working Time Directive. A shorter working week and family friendly working conditions are what every hard working familiy needs’ he added.

On corporate killing Barry Camfield said the new legislation proposed would mean that not one company director would face prison for negligence that killed a worker.

Commending ASLEF for its powerful industrial presence and high membership density he said that that closer working was crucial for transport unions.

One step forward

Bringing Britain"s rail infrastructure back into public ownership has proved a success said train drivers leader Keith Norman today.

Commenting on Network Rail’s annual figures the ASLEF acting general secretary said: ‘Signals passed at danger are down 61%, delays are reduced, broken rails are lower even than last year’s record low. Rail public ownership is daily proving a success.

‘But, and it is a big but, the railway system is still run like a magic roundabout with private owners chasing revenues that derive from public subsidy or charges to passengers and freight users.

‘Bring Network Rail back into the public sector was the first step. Re-privatising South East trains will be a step back. Let us go the whole mile and take private profit out of the system to run the whole railway as a single, publicly owned and accountable entity.’

 

Libel jury finds against BNP man

Delegates at the ASLEF annual assembly in Scarborough erupted in joyful applause as acting general secretary Keith Norman reported that a High Court libel jury had just found in the union’s favour in a case involving Jay Lee the British National Party activist expelled from the union.

Costs have been awarded against Jay Lee who was found responsible for publishing libels on a website. He had denied this.

Keith Norman said: ‘The nazi party specialised in the big lie repeated often enough. This milestone case shows that fascist lies will not find an audience among train drivers.’

Finance

ASLEF annual assembly delegates took careful stock of their last year with a serious- minded assessment of the toll taken in its internal upsets.

Delegates adopted a soberly-worded annual report that set out the steps taken to stabilise the union’s finances.

Senior trustee Clive Jones reported on the progress of training measures carried out to help equip the union’s executive committee manage the union’s assets and the trustees Carry out their tasks. Warning delegates of difficult stock market conditions he said the union’s ethical investment policy narrowed the options available. And he reminded delegates that it was the trustees who had earlier recommended that union subscriptions should rise. 

Acting general secretary Keith Norman reported steady progress in bringing the union’s affairs to order.

Thanking sister unions and the TUC for their advice and assistance he recounted that when he was charged with managing the union’s affairs a year earlier he had found serious problems of neglect with affiliation fees to the International Transport Workers Federation and the TUC unpaid, £250,000 of debts and a lack of detailed management information. 

‘With great efforts by the executive committee and the staff we have been able to put things on an even keel’ he said ‘but the work is ongoing.’

‘Expenditure was under control and within income limits but further efficiencies were being implemented to reduce deficits and make rational use of assets.’

Delegates endorsed a proposal that the would not be sold with a specific decision by an assembly of delegates after Keith Norman had described the problems of managing the union’s heritage headquarters in Hampstead.

‘A beautiful building but hopeless as a modern office, impossible to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act and highly expensive to maintain’ he said. 

And he invited delegates to inspect the mass of scaffolding enveloping the building as builders tried to fix the rotten windows that had fallen to the ground.

Responding to pleas to retain the heritage building and in a tartly worded intervention Leeds delegate Pauline Cawood reminded the assembly that the union’s original head office had been in Leeds.


ASLEF members represented by the union and its lawyers Thompson’s Solicitors had won £2,452,888 in personal injury claims over the previous year delegates were told.

212 cases under the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme had been dealt with in-house with a 90% success rate on appeals.

The union had been able to persuade the Lord Chancellor to withdraw proposals to take train drivers injured or affected by suicides or trespass on the railway out of the CICA scheme.


Equalities call

ASLEF and the train and freight operating companies, and tram operators, must introduce a best practice work place policy for the protection of staff from HIV related illnesses and Aids said sexual equality committee delegate Susan Greenwell.

HIV is not transmitted by casual physical contact, coughing, sneezing and kissing, by sharing toilet and washing facilities or consuming bevarages handled by someone who has HIV – it is not spread by mosquitoes or other insect bites – a driver from Gateshead and Newcastle she said.

Delegates adopted a comprehensive equalities report with strong interventions by delegates representing the women’s, sexual equalities and black and ethnic minority members consultative committees.

Reporting on the failure of her Arriva Trains Northern employer to pick up on agreements with the previous franchise company to recognise equality issues as important Susan Greenwell said: ‘The union’s equality committees are a chance for less active lay members to get involved in trade union work. Go back to your braches, there are vacancies in the consultative committees to be filled’.

 

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