November 2012 Twelve months on the run

01 June 2013

I can hardly believe that it is a year since I wrote my first column as your general secretary. I said that in the first month I’d hardly had time to draw breath. Well, I still haven’t! It’s been a hectic year.


In my first few weeks I met Justine Greening, who was the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Transport. It was hardly worthwhile. She was off a few months later and her successor Patrick


McLoughlin became the eighth person to hold this position in ten years.


Transport in London had a set-back with the reelection of Boris Johnson, who prattles on about driverless trains with the persistence and demeanour of a demented parrot. He was particularly vocal during the industrial action on Boxing Day – and we are no nearer a resolution now than a year ago.


Government policies on rail freight have been a constant challenge, moving seamlessly from distress to disaster. We have seen endless threats to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) provisions and we’ve played our part in Fares Fair campaigns highlighting the danger of rail becoming ‘a rich man’s toy’.


Then we worked hard to develop authoritative and coherent responses to the Command Paper which seeks to implement the cuts to rail services proposed in the McNulty Report. And hot on its heels came the Olympics where the media, for no particular reason, had hysterics at the thought that train drivers were to be properly compensated for additional flexibility. And then came the daddy of them all with the magnificent farce of the West Coast Main line.


Yes, it’s been a busy 12 months – but I’m not complaining. Because I know when I speak for ASLEF I can rely on the backing of thousands of our activists who give up their own time to improve the working lives of their fellow drivers. To you all, many thanks. You’ve given me the best job I’ve ever had.

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