Jan 2012 Standing up for members

01 June 2013

I said in this column last month that I had just ‘taken over the general secretary’s chair’. Well, ever since then, I’ve hardly sat in it!

I’ve had a meeting at the Department for Transport with the new minister, Justine Greening and, keeping up the Westminster theme, spoken to graduates at the city’s university. I’ve been involved in dispute resolution talks with Scotrail and I’ve met Stock Exchange occupiers and various managers. I've also been to Edinburgh, Lincoln and Wortley Hall in Yorkshire for various ASLEF functions.

I was even on parade last Sunday morning for a discussion programme on London’s LBC radio and I’ve done a number of TV and local radio interviews. And I’ve been contacted by a host of people who suddenly feel much warmer towards me since I became general secretary! Is this a coincidence, I wonder?

But I don’t mind living a hectic life. Time goes much quicker and you go home feeling more fulfilled. I much prefer it to clock-watching. Besides, I also want our union to be seen as less London-oriented, and I look forward to going to all the District Councils and branches that have invited me.

I was pleased to see one of our district councils last month considering the union’s political activities. I know this is often portrayed as ‘giving money to the Labour party’: but it isn’t. It cover a range of campaigning work, and as long as politicians make decisions about the railways, we need to be in a position to influence and educate them.

As that is going to be ‘forever’ I urge you to keep paying your political levy. It costs very little – 2.5% of our subs - and it’s vital to our work.

Now I’ll get off my soap-box and see if I can find a minute to sit in the general secretary’s chair – but first let me offer a word of thanks to everyone who works on behalf of ASLEF for their work and dedication over the past 12 months and to wish you all a peaceful and successful 2012.

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