Mick's Column

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

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Trains, Hammond and hypocrisy

 

August 2017

 

The attacks by the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, on this trade union have sparked a furore in the press and rightful indignation amongst our membership. During a cabinet meeting Mr Hammond said that driving a train is so easy ‘even a woman can do it’. He was slapped down, quite rightly, by the Prime Minister for his sexist remark. It’s not often I agree with the Prime Minister, but this is more than casual sexism. Then, on The Andrew Marr Show, he sought to blame the trade unions – us – for the lack of women in the driving grade. But we are not the employers, and we get our members from the people they recruit.

 

But the hypocrisy does not stop there. Because, when Mr Hammond was Transport Secretary, we wrote to the DfT and asked that, as all franchises are let by the government, they should be subject to equality impact assessments. Theresa Villiers, the Transport Minister, wrote back refusing. Why would we be surprised that Mr Hammond was – and is – so out of touch?

 

After all, this is the man who said he had been briefed on our ‘Spanish practices’ – such as demanding time to change ends – and we said that when he introduced teleportation – like someone in Dr Who or Star Trek – we would happily revisit the time taken to undertake our core activities.

 

We will continue to campaign for diversity – for youth, for women, for black and minority ethnic people – across our industry and seek job share, flexibility, and reduced hours’ contracts. But ask anyone who has applied, with our support, and they will explain how such requests are routinely rejected.

 

When people start digging they just don’t stop and, in the same interview, Mr Hammond said that those in the public sector earn more than their counterparts in the private sector. Somewhat crass to attack NHS workers, firefighters, the police, civil service, and others who have had no pay rises, or a pay cap which the government refused this month to lift, of the politics of envy. The truth is that there are far too many people in the public and private sector who do not earn enough – and he is not going to do anything about it. No wonder he wasn’t let out to speak by the Tories during the general election…

 

 

 

 


 

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