Mick's Column

Here you can find the regular column from ASLEF's General Secretary, Mick Whelan.

It seems we live in interesting times

July 2015

We are entering an interesting time, both industrially and politically. Malicious attacks on our communities, and on the futures of our families, continue unabated by this Conservative government, with a further £12 billion of cuts born more of dogma and social engineering than from any genuine wish to secure our country’s economic future.

The debate over the general election continues and, as the Labour Party goes through a period of change, we had to decide who to support in the Labour leadership, deputy leadership, mayor of London and Scottish leadership elections. The executive committee discussed this at length and ASLEF is endorsing Jeremy Corbyn for leader, Tom Watson for deputy, Sadiq Khan for London mayor and, in Scotland, Alex Rowley for deputy leader. The party cannot drift back to the centre; the biggest complaint amongst voters was that there was no real difference between the main political parties. I disagree, and the manifesto clearly was different, but we need to make those policies real, and improve on them, not move away from them.

Industrially, the mad decision by the Tories to tax coal by the ton from April has led to more coal being stockpiled than during the miners’ dispute and to a driver surplus that we are dealing with on a company by company basis. The failure of TfL to make a decent pay offer, allied to insulting our members over the night Tube, resulted in a massive 97% in favour of industrial action. Maybe this poor employer will get the message and talk properly.

Elsewhere, we had significant mandates on pay and abuse of CDP processes that make a nonsense of the Tories’ proposed thresholds for strike action and reinforce the solidarity and unity of our membership – which never fails to enthuse me as much as it must worry the employers.

Thanks to all of you who turned out in Glasgow and London for the anti-austerity marches. We will have to do more together!