Mick's Column

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

2017201620152014  - 2013 - 2012 - 2011

Other archived columns:  2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2008 - 2007 - 2006 - 2005

 

We fought hard for everything we have

June 2017

This trade union is affiliated to the Labour Party. The decision by members to affiliate, and enshrine it in our rule book, to which every member signs up on application, was a wise one but is not, for some reason, always understood by some members. The Labour Party was founded in Farringdon, just down the road from head office, by unions who wanted a representative voice in Parliament to fight for rights including universal suffrage.

We need the party now more than ever. Nobody gave us the salaries and conditions we have; it took 137 years of negotiation and struggle, solidarity and unity, building on the foundations of the past. That’s what makes us what we are. Trade unions are about wages and T&Cs, and about education, housing, health, and social mobility, for ourselves, our families and future generations, and ASLEF has sought, since 1880, to improve all these things.

So it frightens me when the party that introduced the Trade Union Act 2016 and the Lobbying & Transparency Act 2014 tries to present itself, falsely, as the ‘workers’ party’. The party that seeks to alter long-won conditions by implementing changes through invitations to tender for future franchises is no friend of the train driver. This is a Transport Minister who, when we raise the plight of the freight sector, and our members’ security of employment, tells us ‘the market will assert itself.’

We are more attuned to a party that will not only reinstate workers’ rights, including the right to legal redress for injury, and employment rights, but change the model on the railway and invest in a long-term and integrated public transport system that gives real value to the taxpayer, passengers, and businesses sending freight by rail, as well as securing the future of those skilled men and women employed in this sector.

At the end of May we held our annual assembly of delegates, in Bristol, turning the union over to members to evaluate where we are, what we have done, and to discuss the future, and the evolution of policy, based on items sent in from branches for discussion. We are a democratic organisation. The general election this month will determine the challenges we face going forward but, while we do it together, there is no stronger union in the UK, thanks to you. You are ASLEF.

 

 


 

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