Here you can find the regular column from ASLEF's General Secretary, Mick Whelan.
Happy Christmas - but the war's not over yet
To say that the past twelve months have been interesting,industrially and politically, would be an understatement. But with the support of our representatives, officers, executive committee and, most important, the branches and our members we have successfully avoided many of the trials and tribulations in other industries and unions. We have been proactive on the challenges but must be increasingly vigilant in the coming months on the future of our pensions and the issues arising out of an unprecedented number of franchises, including the East Coast, being relet with indecent haste. With so many franchises coming up to or entering their last year, industrial relations is a minefield, as fear of losing means companies try to maximise profits while claiming the DfT has to authorise anything covered by our free collective bargaining agreements.
The European Commission’s Fourth Railway Package is a dangerous and misguided piece of legislation; McNulty said we were more expensive, by 40%,than the state-owned operators on the continent who now own most of the franchises in Britain. So who wants the UK model?
Living standards are under attack from increased petrol prices,heating and food costs while the opportunity to educate our children and enjoy dignity in retirement is being eroded on top of the wholesale destruction of the NHS and other services.
With the government’s gagging bill and proposed investigation into Grangemouth not to look at the role of the billionaire who held the country to ransom – until he got a wage freeze for three years, £138 million of taxpayers’ money, and closed the pension fund – but the role of the trade unions in disputes.
This trade union has prevailed for 133 years and, with the strength and unity we have always demonstrated, it will continue, despite the challenges.So may I take this opportunity to thank you for what you do for ASLEF – and each other – and wish every one of you a happy and safe Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.