Jan 2008 - Back to the future!

01 June 2013

2008 finds ASLEF’s finances in a healthier condition than at any time in the last 12 years. That is how long it has been since we were able to put money into an investment account at the end of the year. This was one of my major targets when I became your general secretary and I am delighted that – together – we have achieved it.

Within ASLEF we spend much of our time mulling over our marvellous heritage and our proud history. No one has more pride in this union’s past than myself – but my primary mission has been to concern myself with its future. I am now confident that we have put our finances back on track – and our future as a strong and independent union representing train drivers is assured.

In some ways it feels strange that I have been so concerned with the union’s income and expenditure. It is certainly not what drove me to join, and become active in, ASLEF. I became a trade unionist because it was the right thing to do. I felt a solidarity with my work-mates that could best be expressed within ASLEF, and I wanted to pay my share towards the union that represented my profession: I wanted the strength and confidence of belonging.

My views haven’t changed over the years. These are still the ideals that motivate me to want to work as your general secretary. But over the years I have discovered that a strong union needs more than high principles. It needs strong organisation – and that means it needs hard cash.

In the three years since I became your general secretary I have lived in a constant state of anxiety about our finances. We had enough to turn over – but not enough to face anything unpredictable like the cost of a national strike or a major rail enquiry. Of course, none of us want either of these things to happen – but the best organisations are those that even have contingency planning for the unthinkable.

This year we will be able to put over £200,000 into the bank. This is the result of handling headquarters finances professionally, cutting back on unnecessary expenditure, eliminating expenses without full receipts – and, of course, your acceptance of a small rise in subscriptions.

I am grateful to you all for the part you have played in ensuring that ASLEF’s future is as bright and certain as its past.

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