Stepping up to the mark

01 January 2015

In the last couple of months, as I’ve been around the country visiting branches and district councils, I’ve been struck by the depth of knowledge about, and concern for the future of, our industry. It’s clear that at grassroots people believe there is no long term political strategy for our railways and recent decisions on East Coast and ScotRail sleepers reinforces this. Concerns over direct awards and the contents of invitations to tender, specifying job cuts, changes to services, and DOO, have to be challenged and securing our members’ futures and conditions will always be our first priority. Quite rightly, drivers are telling me about their concerns for their families and how, in this election year, ASLEF needs to step up to the mark and have a clear voice on everything from employment rights, zero hours contracts and agency working to the NHS and access to justice and we will be doing just that in the run up to May.

We had significant success over the outcomes arising from an ORR prosecution and believe that we are going to be part of a process that will start to return the rule book to a template for industry safety and not a charter for controls to protect companies from penalties when essential systems such as communication are down or degraded and I want to thank you for the strong and unified stance that enabled this to happen.

Our president, Alan Donnelly, has decided to retire after 14 years on the executive committee, ten of them as president, making him, as far as we can ascertain, the longest-serving president in the long history of ASLEF. During his tenure we have had many difficult internal and industry issues to deal with and he has brought strength of conviction and natural justice to the table with a determination and humour very few can or will match. Brother, thank you; now give the time to your family that you dedicated to us and have a long and healthy future.

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