Jan 2006 - A platform for future success

01 June 2013

Between you and me, we’ve been having a few successes lately. I know this isn’t the sort of thing we usually talk about in trade union journals. As a movement, we seem to have more of a preference for magnificent defeats than welcome successes. In fact, the spell-checker had difficulty with the word ‘success’. It suggested ‘sell-out’ as an alternative!

Nevertheless, last month saw the government turn down the road haulage lobby's pressure to allow 60 tonne lorries on our roads. It is something we have campaigned about long and hard ever since it was first mooted six months ago. Our principal arguments concerned safety, especially because of braking distance, increased road congestion and the effects on our roads and the environment. We saw it as an important part of our campaign to move more freight by rail instead of road.

I was delighted to see transport minister Stephen Ladyman announce the decision in Parliament. The proposed trucks were quite unsuitable for British roads.

Stephen - and the Labour government - are to be congratulated for resisting pressure from the haulage lobby and listening to the common sense of trade unions, environmental campaigners and the majority of the British people.

The end of the year also saw the Cornish sleeper train service retained. ASLEF joined the campaign not because of a romantic attachment to the past but because it provides a genuine service to business and holiday-makers, takes traffic of the roads and increases public attachment to railways. We urged our members to support the campaign, and Alistair Darling has reacted by insisting on a franchise condition that the overnight sleeper between London and Penzance is retained.

The other positive aspect of these positive events is the number of friends we made on the way. It is a fact that every time we begin to campaign, people come out to support us from all sorts of quarters, some entirely unexpected. Our level crossing campaign earned the

backing of several Tory MPs, businesses concerned with the height of lorries supported the moves against monster lorries, and we have built up excellent relations with environmental groups throughout our 'Who Cares?' campaign.

A final success story has more of a principle than immediately practical effect, but is welcome for all that. For the first time drivers' hours are to be limited by virtue of EU ruling. It will apply first to cross-border drivers, but at least we have made some progress on an issue on which we have campaigned for years.

So: three successes in the first Journal of the year. It's all very worrying. If we carry on like this, it will mean socialism by Christmas 2006!

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