President updates Northern West dispute

29 September 2008

ASLEF members in Northern Rail West have voted by over 90% to support industrial action because of a ‘severe breakdown in industrial relations’. EC President Alan Donnelly offers this appraisal of the situation following further talks:

 

‘ASLEF has always been prepared to negotiate and resolve issues – but it is impossible when the other side diverts blame and publishes misleading statements.

 

The company magazine is not telling the truth when it says the Westside company council is to blame for the cessation of rest day working. That was an EC decision, based on the poor industrial relations and a lack of commitment and sincerity over harmonization.

 

‘I want to stick to facts, not get into a propaganda war. The General Secretary and myself met Heidi Mottram and Steve Butcher on 4 September to agree a way forward.

 

‘The following day Steve Butcher met the Westside company council and myself to see how this could be progressed locally. With an unbelievable 70 issues outstanding, it was agreed to commence talks the following Monday.

 

‘To assist business we also agreed to take off the agenda the vexed questions of productivity and ‘harmonization through the back door’. This would be better progressed in the correct forum and would also help in resolving the other outstanding issues.

 

‘The Westside company council was charged with keeping the EC aware of how the discussions continued. Indications as I write are that talks are constructive and hopefully agreements will be reached. Until that time, the ballot process continues.

 

‘ASLEF will not sit back and watch our members and activists be treated this way. We did not create the lack of trust and respect that exists today and it is regrettable that we are having to deal with industrial relations issues through the ballot box. If no real progress is made, action will take place on 13 October. We will follow this path until our members are treated with respect, and trust is restored.’

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