Mick's Column

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

The true test of a policy is a party in power

October 2015

All decisions that impact on the future of our industry are inherently political, from the debate on the Night Tube, driven by the Mayor of London, to the unpopular refranchising of the East Coast by a Tory-led coalition that believed it was going out of power.

The shape of our industry is politically driven by spurious direct awards and ITTs that damage the safety of the travelling public by reducing staffing levels to cut costs; and the perverse tax on coal, which has impacted so greatly on our freight members, was a political decision. The iniquitous Trade Union Bill, which criminalises picketing and those seeking a voice against poor employers, who are the root cause of all strife, is also apolitical decision.

So it is with great pleasure that we congratulate Jeremy Corbyn, Tom Watson and Sadiq Khan in getting the Labour leadership, deputy leadership and London mayoral candidate respectively. As ASLEF nominated all three, we are now being asked for tips for the horses and dogs! The work, of course, starts now. Whilst there is a real need for vocal and vibrant opposition, and to demonstrate, on the doorstep, that those who say ĎThereís no difference between the partiesí are wrong, you cannot implement a policy unless you are in power.

We welcome Jeremyís announcement that Labour will take the franchises back as they run out; the risk is what happens in the interim,possibly more direct awards or longer franchises to frustrate change, but we must campaign now to ensure that Network Rail is not broken up and privatised and that public protection is put in place for the freight sector and the threats from Europe and the 4th railway package are not ignored.Itís been a great week for ASLEF and those we support but having the right people in place is just the first stage in ensuring that in all our sectors we have a secure and safe future.