Second day of AAD

13 May 2015

ASLEF's annual assembly of delegates - our conference - is our policy making parliament. It continued at the Park Inn Hotel in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, today.

Tosh McDonald, EC president,talking about the executive committee and officers report on the Political:International part of our annual report, said: ‘Being an internationalist is not something of which any ASLEF member or representative should be ashamed. It’s what we do, alongside our domestic work, not instead of our domestic work. Because it’s the right thing to do and something of which we should be rightly proud.’


Fraternal greetings from the RMT

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT, told delegates: ‘In the battles we face, we need to get better at working together and, going forward, it’s important we work together. We have a lot of history, some of it good, some of it bad, but we do it well on Action for Rail and we need to work together elsewhere.

‘I want to put on record our thanks to ASLEF for the position ASLEF has taken on driver only operation. You know you’re on a winner when they try and rebrand it because DOO has a bad name. The principled position your union has taken is good.

‘The employers want to divide and degrade and reduce our terms and conditions. I saw these words on an NUM banner. It said: The past we inherit, the future we build. So let’s work together to build a better future.’


Speaker: Keith Ewing

Keith Ewing, Professor of Public Law at King’s College, London, and president of the Campaign for Trade Union Freedom, believes trade unions face the biggest crisis of his lifetime and that the declared candidates for the Labour Party leadership offer progressives in this country no hope.

He said: ‘When I joined the workforce 82% of British workers were covered by a collective agreement. Now just 20% are covered by a collective agreement. That’s a shocking decline in collective bargaining coverage and in the number of people we are reaching. But we need to be realistic because I believe we are facing the biggest crisis for trade unionism in my lifetime.

‘We were all shocked by the exit poll at 10pm and shocked by the result - but we shouldn’t be surprised. If we look at the lessons of history, especially since the Second World War, it’s typical for a government, especially a Tory government, to get a second term.

‘The Tory government elected in 1951 stayed in office until 1964. The Tory government elected in 1979 stayed in office until 1997. Once they get into power it’s very, very hard to get them out. We’ve elected a government not just with the brakes off, but with the brakes off for the next ten years.

‘The Labour Party is about to go into civil war and will not be ready for government in five years’ time. Wes hould hope for a Labour government in five years’ time - but prepare for along haul against a new Tory hegemony.’

He then turned his attention to the next Labour leader. And he wasn’t optimistic there, either, saying: ‘Can I be optimistic about the future of the Labour Party when we look at the candidates to be leader? Look at them. They cannot get down on their knees low enough to bend down in front of big business…’


Speaker: Elly Barnes

Elly Barnes, chief executive officer of Educate & Celebrate, which works to makes schools and workplaces LGBT-friendly went down a storm when she led a sing-a-long of delegates in Red Rockets & Rainbow’s version of Different Things [‘We love different things but we can still be friends.’]



Driving freight trains is not a hobby

Dave Calfe, EC vice-president, said: ‘I know some people who drive passenger trains during the week and then freight trains at the weekend because, they say, ‘I like driving big engines.” It’s not a hobby driving trains. It’s a job. It’s employment for men and women who have families to feed. And people shouldn’t be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths.’



Simon Weller, national organiser, said: ‘Pensions are going to be the next big battleground. Because make no mistake, after the general election result, they’re coming for our pensions.’

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