Mick's Column

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

It seems we live in interesting times

November 2014

We are entering an interesting phase in our industry – and our futures – with parliaments north and south of the border making decisions that seem blatantly designed to ensure that any future Westminster government or devolved democracy at Holyrood is trapped with a flawed rail industry model that has demonstrably failed the taxpayer, and the travelling public, for the past two decades.

The decision in Scotland to let the franchise after the outcome of the recent independence debate – and despite a universal call for the decision to be delayed and due consideration given to what Scotland might do, with more powers, with its infrastructure in the future – beggars belief.

We also have a rushed decision on the future of the East Coast to come and the coalition government – with its new culture of direct awards – seems determined to ensure that public cash haemorrhages from the industry to a few vested interests for many years to come.

Franchising, as demonstrated by the West Coast debacle, is flawed but the Tories’ new idea of short and long term awards with no competition is designed to protect their dogma and ensure that future governments are locked into the current system.That undermines democracy.

Closer to home, our thoughts are with all those drivers, railway workers and those from the emergency services affected by the recent spate of fatalities across the network. Let’s hope it’s a blip rather than a reflection of a longer term issue in society and, consequently, our industry.

On Saturday 18 October hundreds of you marched with the ASLEF contingent, and the rest of the trade union movement, in London demanding Britain needs a pay rise. It can only be of benefit to the whole economy to treat all workers with dignity and reinvigorate the British economy by increasing the spending power of decent working families. I want to thank you for your support and solidarity and hope,this time, the politicians listen to what we say.