Driven by Ideals - A History of ASLEF

ASLEF has a new history. Published on Thursday 22 September 2005 and written by labour historian Robert Griffiths it links the early battles of locomotivemen for a living wage, decent conditions and against patrician and dictatorial bosses to present day campaigns for a publicly owned railway by the women and men of Britain's most effective trade union.

Contemporary issues over rail safety find an echo in the past with an account of the union's early successes in compelling the railway owners to accept responsibility for disasters caused by their neglect and incompetence.

From the crucible of Britain's industrial revolution to today's post industrial decay the book reflects on the craft pride and discipline of train drivers, their solidarity and their broad political horizons.

ASLEF general secretary Keith Norman says the union has a long history and a bright future.

'Anyone doubting either of these facts needs only to skim through the pages of this book. Anyone wanting to understand the bonds that have linked railway footplate workers over the last 125 years has only to read it more carefully.'

He says 'I have always felt a deep gratitude to the people who first came together to form the trade union that would become ASLEF. Beginning any project is daunting, but the creation of a trade union from scratch would seem, to any normal mortal, a Herculean undertaking. The sense of optimism, purpose and conviction at that first meeting in February 1880 resounds still. It is an example and a clarion call to working people everywhere. It says, quite simply, 'Everything is possible when men and women unite in a just and common cause.'

Robert Griffiths is well know to ASLEF activists and a wider trade union audience as a prolific writer and trade union tutor. The author of numerous books, pamphlets and articles including SO Davies: A Socialist Faith (1983), a biography of the former socialist MP for Merthyr Tydfil, and in Welsh Streic! Streic! Streic! (1986), a history of the 1911 national railway strike in south Wales he was formerly senior lecturer in labour history and political economy at University of Wales College, Newport, and is a qualified TUC tutor who has held various positions in the trade union movement.

The book is priced at £25 for Hardback and £12 for Paperback.

ASLEF members can get the book at a discounted price of £20 for Hardback and £10 for Paperback.

You can order your copy by calling the ASLEF Head Office on 0207 324 2400.