AAD Monday

09 May 2016

Ian Smith, a senior trustee of this union, Glasgow branch chair, and a man described by DO2 Kevin Lindsay as ‘a stalwart of this trade union’, and by EC2 Hugh Bradley as ‘Mr Angry, but always on behalf of the members’, opened conference by describing his career journey on the iron road. At the end of his moving speech GS Mick Whelan presented Ian with honorary life membership of ASLEF – the highest honour the union can bestow – in recognition of his services over the years.

Andy Gardner, of Inverness,was elected unopposed as chair of AAD. Collette Gibson, of Paddington, was elected vice-chair.

Tosh McDonald, in his president’s address, said: ‘What a year it’s been since we met at Southend! The depression after the Tories were re-elected, we didn’t expect that. Then the runners and riders in the Labour Party leadership contest, offering more of the same, the same old policies that cost us five million votes from 1997 to 2010. Then the messiah, JC, Jeremy Corbyn, came along and we knew we could support him. We were the first trade union to support Jeremy Corbyn, the first trade union to support Tom Watson as deputy leader, and the first trade union to support Sadiq Khan as London Mayor. What a hat-trick! It’s also the first time in ASLEF’s history we have re-elected a general secretary. Mick was re-elected unopposed.Mick is the best general secretary I’ve seen in ASLEF and I think he will prove to be the best general secretary in ASLEF’s history.’

Mark Daniels introduced the auditors’ report – delivered by Phil Clark, from our auditors – and the trustees’ report.

GS Mick Whelan, in a passionate speech to delegates on Monday afternoon, challenged the Conservative government to come clean. ‘A few weeks ago Peter Wilkinson, a civil servant at the DfT who earns £265,000 a year, lied publicly about £60k a year train drivers working a three day week. We called him out as a liar – which is what he is – and we wrote to Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, and asked if what he said – about taking on and breaking the trade unions – is government policy. We got back a woolly answer which evaded our questions so we wrote again, more aggressively, and we are still awaiting an answer.

‘But I know what I think. I think this Tory government is coming for us – coming for you – because they want to break ASLEF as they want to break all the trade unions. Because they want to break anyone and everyone who can – and does – stand up to them. But I know something else. I know we will not be broken, whatever hurdles this government – and their friends in the High Court – try to put in our way.’

Gary Wareing, Hull, said:‘The Labour Party was built, from the bottom up, by the trade unions, to defend the working-class. It was formed to overthrow capitalism. We had the desert of the Blair years, when the Progress faction tried to turn a democratic socialist party into a social democratic party, but now we have Jeremy Corbyn, elected by people angry at austerity, angry at zero hours contracts, angry at a capitalism which simply doesn’t work for the vast majority of us. The establishment are terrified that Jeremy Corbyn will form the next government of this country.That’s why their friends in the media are calling for a coup against Corbyn.This is a struggle between the working-class and capitalism and we have to defend Jeremy Corbyn. Those careerist MPs who are trying to undermine Jeremy should face re-selection by their branches. That’s why we should be calling for the mandatory re-selection of MPs because it cannot be right for MPs to ignore the wishes of party members. Because we want to elect a Jeremy Corbyn government to change society.’

Dave Tyson, trustee director of the Railways Pension Scheme, delivered a detailed, but highly intelligible,report on the state of our pensions.

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