Mick's Column

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

Democracy and debate at AAD

June 2016

I write this column after spending a week at our annual assembly of delegates, reinvigorated by the discussion and debate,and the overwhelming humanity of those who belong to, and care about, this trade union, this industry, and everyone’s future; not a society of individuals but a collective that operates for all. Some might consider it a risk, handing the union over to its own members to formulate policy, but I believe it’s the purest form of democracy. We do not appoint; at every level of this trade union, those who represent are elected, and the branch based structure of our union was endorsed. We seek to shape our future and not rely on successes,industrially and politically, in the past. Yes, there are things we could and should do better but we will strive to achieve them together, whatever the challenge.

It’s a couple of years since the case of Neal v Freightliner, waiting as the TOCs and FOCs tried to get the judgement watered down after what we were told we are legally entitled to as part of our annual leave. It’s now been brought to a head by the executive committee; all overtime and allowances should be included in your annual leave payments.

We are in dispute with a very poor employer who has challenged us legally over our agreements and the method of bargaining they used to honour. Because of this, and their claim that if I tell you, as we’ve done for 136 years, what agreements we have in place, I am ‘inducing some form of action’ you will understand why I cannot go further. But we are balloting and will take the appropriate legal industrial action if we get a mandate subject, of course, to further legal challenge. People have only to look at the actions taken against other grades in that company to form a view!

We are writing to Patrick McLoughlin about suggestions that companies invited to bid for franchises under the Invitation to Tender process have been asked how they will undermine collective bargaining and destroy our existing agreements. We want an unequivocal response.

We wish Sadiq Khan, the new Mayor of London, a bright and successful future. We are proud to have supported Sadiq and look forward to working with him. It will be nice to have a full-time mayor whose focus will be on the needs of everyone in the capital.