Mick's Column

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

We could be in for a long battle

September 2016

We are used to hearing how politics is boring, the young are not engaged, and there is no difference between the parties; and, at this time of year, the papers and blogs are usually full of silly season stories. Not this year! It is quite clear that, despite having years to prepare for a referendum they called to try and solve their own internal problems, the Tories had not prepared for the possibility of a vote for Brexit. Given the traditional leanings of the party, this is a surprise;but, in an era of infighting, Michael Gove, arch-Brexiteer, is sidelined as Boris Johnson, David Davis and Liam Fox spend more time empire building than getting on with it. There was always going to be a period of uncertainty, post referendum, but this fumbling and incompetence does not help.

As for the Labour Party, we have a leader that the CLPs and hundreds of thousands of members, but not the PLP,want. Wouldn’t it be strange to have a popular leader with policies with which voters identify? Not according to some in the PLP, and NEC, who think, ‘Let's try and force out a leader who was the overwhelming choice of 2015,’ under a system they wanted but now seek to gerrymander. I can understand a cut-off point for administrative purposes – maybe a month – but six months to exclude130,000 members, and then opening it up for two days to those prepared to pay£25, is the worst form of hypocrisy. Kudos to those who challenged this shabby decision, both for their perseverance and their passion for representative democracy.

We have been out campaigning as the annual RPI figure for July is released in August and tells us how much fares will increase in January. The public have had enough. Many have to travel further due to the high cost of housing, transport poverty remains a real issue, and it's you, and those on the front line, who take the abuse for an increasingly overcrowded and, in many cases, poor experience.

Imposition of rosters in abrogation of all our agreements is reflected in our ballot for industrial action in District 1; what will be next? Colas IM told us Network Rail had told them not to recruit; we checked and that is untrue. This is another disingenuous company which wants to hurt its employees. It could be a long battle...