Keith's Column (archive)

Here you can find the archived column from ASLEF's previous General Secretary, Keith Norman.

Farewell, brothers and sisters

November 2011

This will be the last column I write as your General Secretary. It was no easy decision to step down, but I did so for my family and for the union. I made a promise to my wife Christine that i must keep, and I believed it was time to hand over the leadership to maintain the impetus of our union.

It has been a great privilege to have been your general secretary, and I am satisfied that I leave the union in a healthy condition and in good hands. The union is financially stable, well organised and democratically accountable. Mick Whelan is capable, energetic and principled. He will serve you well.

ASLEF has been more to me than a union, or an employer. It has been a way of life. I have bonds with it that time will never break. Our internal arguments have paled into insignificance compared with the fraternity and loyalty that have always been its hallmarks.

The history of ASLEF is the stories of its members. I first learned what comradeship and solidarity meant at the end of a firemanís shovel. Since then I have lived with your concerns, ambitions and challenges throughout my adult life. I have learned much over the years. I owe the union a great deal.

There are too many of you to thank individually, but the people I hold in the greatest regard are our rank and file members who have always backed their union and their colleagues without hesitation. Without them, this union would not have survived the crisis of seven years ago. They are the backbone of ASLEF. Thanks, too, to the head office staff who are seldom seen, but always there for you.

Farewell, my friends and colleagues. You will remain in my thoughts and in my heart when I leave the general secretaryís office for the last time later this month.

Good luck to you all.