Mick's Column

 

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

2018 - 2017201620152014  - 2013 - 2012 - 2011

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

 

All smoke and mirrors

 

September 2018

 

Last month Mr Grayling said he was not responsible for running the railway; now he has changed his mind and wants to get involved in areas that have nothing to do with him. You can see the deflection tactics coming; his colleagues start popping up in the press about voluntary overtime and lack of coverage of Sundays. No recognition that any shortfall in driver numbers, or training, is down to them. And no thanks for the staff bearing the brunt of their collective incompetence when we are working over and beyond our contracts.

 

All this when polls show the railway has just a 23% trust rating – only secondhand car dealers have a worse score – thanks to Mr Grayling, the DfT and Network Rail! That’s after 20 years of privatisation, with government subsidy running at £6.9 billion a year – £3.5 billion net after returns – which does not have to be repaid by the privateers before they take their profit. The Government set the mechanism for fare rises and made an active decision to pass the pain from the taxpayer to the fare box that has come back to haunt them. ‘So what can we do? Let’s blame the rail unions!’

 

It was strange; we were getting questions from the right-wing press and then, late in the day, an email pops up from Mr Grayling to all the rail union general secretaries. Shall we be cynical about the timing? Of course! As such tactics are unworthy and petty.

 

Mr Grayling is going to talk to the RDG about using CPI as a measure; but they have no consultative over the negotiating locus in the industry so that’s a waste of time. He would have such authority in a nationalised, but not a privatised, industry. And his department is aware of the numerous deals already in place in our fractionalised industry. Some are staged arrangements and some have fixed anniversaries based on RPI. We have correspondence from one of his predecessors confirming they will not interfere in free collective bargaining. So does their model of market economics only apply to companies, and bosses, not workers?

 

Offline, certain employers are talking about the lunacy of the government, and the department, but we will wait and see what they do formally. Mr Grayling seems to have alienated every driver in the country, as well as our brothers and sisters across the industry. It’s irrational, when the industry is dependent on goodwill, but if you look at the other sectors where Mr Grayling has been in charge, and ruined, why should we be surprised?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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