July 2010 - When we work together, we win

01 June 2013

Later in this edition you will read the president’s view that the union doesn’t trumpet its achievements as we should. It’s an opinion I heartily endorse.


The fact is that members expect ASLEF to do well, so no one says anything when we do. To some extent this is only fair. It’s the same with passengers. If their train arrives on time, no one says a word: it’s what they’ve paid for. You only get a reaction is if it’s late.


Similarly when the union does its job – as it has been doing in the Squash campaign – it’s greeted with silence. We really ought to be aware, and proud, of the things we achieve together. It gives us encouragement and confidence.


Our achievements in the cab conditions campaign have not been dramatic. Rather, it has been a case of gradual but relentless progress. But we have, since Squash began in March 2007, radically altered working conditions for the vast majority of our members. That is something to be proud of.


The union worked at every level to bring the issue of cab conditions to the top of the agenda. It was raised by national negotiators. It was pursued by local reps and health and safety reps. Ordinary members posted Squash stickers in cabs, reported poor conditions to management and sent us hundreds of photographs of appalling cabs. We lobbied MPs and even went out on the streets on International Safety Day to publicise the issue.


And when ASLEF members work together, the union prevails. This month alone, South West Trains agreed to equip all its units with air conditioning and First Capital Connect has agreed to invest in improvements to desks, switches, seating and windscreen wiper.


Yet we should remember that if we had not prioritised the issue of cab conditions, nothing would not have happened. We worked together, and made a difference.


It’s trumpet time!

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