ASLEF in conference

12 May 2009

ASLEF has completed the first day of its annual conference, the AAD.


ASLEF’s conference in Nottingham has accepted that flexible measures have to be adopted to deal with the down-turn of rail freight. The union has agreed temporary changes in conditions which would be reinstated when companies come back into profit.


The union was less flexible in its TUC dispute with Unite over who should represent staff at Croydon trams. President Alan Donnelly declared, ‘It is more important to us that we represent members in their workplaces than it is to remain within the TUC.’


Ken Livingstone, who opened the conference, was equally inflexible about the solutions to the free-market lunacy of recent years. ‘We need planning, the regulation of financial markets, investment in worthwhile projects, scaled down profits and the redistribution of wealth within and across nations. Socialism and public ownership are not ideas that have had their day. They are the solutions to the existing crisis.’


The conference also insisted that ASLEF should not feel embarrassed to talk about ‘renationalisation’. ‘It’s not a dirty word,’ insisted Sean Seymour.


In the international arena, ASLEF is to campaign against new Israeli regulations which disqualify Arab workers from employment on that country’s railways. It has new regulations which require army services as an employment condition. As Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of Israel are exempt from service in the Israeli army, they are excluded from employment. ‘This amounts to blatant apartheid,’ said Peter Grant, a delegate from Manchester. ‘It is another blow to Palestinian people after the totally disproportionate attack they made on Gaza earlier this year.’


The union will affiliate to the Iran Workers Solidarity Network as well as working with Hand Off The People of Iran to publicise the lack of trade union rights and their economic plight. ASLEF is pledged to support the struggles for the right to strike, to form unions independent of the regime, to obtain unpaid wages and their battles against redundancies, factory closures, privatisation and deregulation.


The Executive has also been given authority to seek alternative London premises for its head office.

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