Apr 2005 - Modern methods, trusted values

01 June 2013

Spring is in the air. It is a time of rebirth and growth. Time to put behind the dark days of the winter. To abandon our discontents. To consider the future with anticipation.

And none more than we train drivers, our families and our many friends in the railway industry and in trade union movement.

We are experiencing something of a renewal. Membership is stable with more than 19 out of twenty train drivers members of our union. Marvellous efforts by our district organisers, headquarters staff, national, company council and local officials have returned the union first to stability and now to growth.

We have a re-invigorated national executive that has tackled the inevitable backlog of work with enthusiasm and industry. At the same time an ambitious programme of modernisation and renewal is being embarked upon that will give we train drivers - already members of arguable the most industrially effective union - an unprecedented degree of insight into the routine operations of the union.

The image of the union is immeasurably improved. Whether defending the direct interests of train drivers, joining with others in the big issues of our time or taking the lead on rail industry issues and safety. ASLEF is no longer on the back burner.

ASLEF is, and always has been, one of the most democratic unions with all key industrial relations decisions in the hands of train drivers in the workplace. The most important debating chamber is not the conference chamber but the mess room.

But if we can pride ourselves on our industrial organisation it has taken the events of the last period, and the report into our affairs by Matthias Kelly QC, to bring home the truth that our internal affairs have not always been conducted with probity and transparency.

They are now. And never again will we let our standards slip as they did over the recent period. We have embarked on an ambitious programme of modernisation. At the heart of this approach, which is already yielding good results, is our determination that decision making shall be open and transparent. This process is being led from the top but is the business of everyone in the union.

Key to this is better communications. Everything is being tested against the benchmark of transparency. But better communications are the tool to strengthen the union, make our actions more effective, achieve real results in the workplace.

This process is driven by our own desires. But we hope that it will be given wings by a substantial grant from the government's union modernisation fund that will give us extra resources to make sure all branches can be reached directly by e mail. We are looking at text messaging systems that will spread the word at an instant.

Our strategy is simple. The most modern methods in the service of traditional working class values.

Keith Norman 
Acting General Secretary

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