September 2013: No place for Victorian practice in 21st century

07 October 2013

Last month I wrote about how, despite being portrayed by the government, and most of the media, as the enemy, support for trade unions is growing, as evidenced by the huge support from inside and outside the movement at Durham and Tolpuddle. This got me thinking. If the debate – not one to which we subscribe – is about ‘workers’ and ‘shirkers’, why are we under attack, on workers’ rights, tribunals, health and safety, and getting redress for members who have been traumatised or injured?

Then we learn that 1 million people are on zero hours contracts with no rights, annual leave or sick pay, a cancer growing in our industry with Colas, DCR, and WCR, which has to be addressed. We await Mr Cable’s review of this Victorian practice but hear zero concern from his coalition colleagues. Which brings me to two friends incensed at where we are politically.

Big Jack Housley, who is no longer with us, took an immense pride in ASLEF, our history and achievements but, more importantly, drivers as people. He was a big, bluff Yorkshireman with a heart as big as a bucket, who fought and argued with pride for our people, and could not hide how much he cared or how much what we are and what we do matter.

Our thoughts are with his family and numerous friends at this difficult time; he will be much missed.

Steve Grant has had to stand down from his role as District Organiser. I was lucky enough to be elected as a DO around the time he was so have seen first hand the tireless efforts he and Terry Wilkinson put in for our members on the Tube. I would like to pay tribute to someone who, as a colleague, and a friend, has given me loyalty and support, and never been shy of expressing his views, with a wonderful sense of humour. I wish Steve and Doreen all the best.

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