AAD Tuesday

26 May 2016

After a long, entertaining, and informed debate [which started on Monday afternoon and only finished midway through Tuesday morning] about the European Union, and the position ASLEF has taken on Brexit, AAD endorsed both the position the EC has taken – to back the Leave campaign – and the fact that the EC took a position.

Speaking in favour of an emergency motion to overturn the EC’s policy Tim van Tinteren, Sheffield Midland, said: ‘The recent High Court injunction was made by a right-wing British judge in a British court. A vote to leave will be a boost to this right-wing Conservative government. A vote to leave the EU in this referendum,at this time, under this government, will be a step back for the working-class.’

Tony Holloway, Waterloo Nine Elms, said: ‘This debate is now not just about the decision to back a Brexit, but about the way that decision was taken. Because a lot of members feel we should have been consulted, rather than being told what the EC had decided by a branch circular.’

But Rab Wicksted, Edinburgh No 2, said: ‘Under TTIP companies will be coming to demand compensation from our government – from the public purse, from the taxpayer, from your pocket and mine – if they don’t make enough profit! Are they having a giraffe?’

And Pete Cashman, Birkenhead, said: ‘In or out, they are coming for us and we are going to have to defend our rights. Because international capital doesn’t respect borders, or flags, but goes where there is money to be made.’

Tosh McDonald, EC president,said: ‘Remember what happened to Greece. The EU acted like a giant Wonga – here, take some more money, and now we’ll screw you to make the repayments. Sell off your treasures, sell off the public services, privatise everything,rip up people’s pensions, it’s outrageous!’

Dave Calfe, vice-president,said: ‘The EC makes policy, under rule, outside of AAD sitting.’

And Dave Vaughan, NewtonHeath said: ‘We are a political organisation. TTIP is what it’s all about and it’s something of which we should have no part. The EC made a principled decision.’

We had several guest speakers today, starting with Bob Hayden and Keith McMahon of the Rail, Tram & Bus Union in Australia and Wayne Butson and Barry Simpkins of the Rail & Maritime Union in New Zealand.

Andy McDonald, Labour MP for Middlesbrough, and Shadow Rail Minister, in a barnstorming speech at ASLEF’s annual conference in Aviemore, underlined the Labour Party’s determination to bring Britain’s railways back into public ownership.

He said: ‘I was delighted to accept Jeremy Corbyn’s invitation to take up the position of Shadow Rail Minister in January. Jeremy, as you know, is a complete rail enthusiast and we are both determined to campaign for a fully integrated publicly owned railway, to fight job cuts and to campaign for cheaper fares and better services. Jeremy reminded me that he has worked with the rail unions for many years on these issues and he knew I would enjoy working with the unions. I think I’ve got one of the best briefs in politics - to shape Labour’s rail policy over the coming years because getting our rail policy right is absolutely crucial for delivering the type of economic growth needed to create the prosperous and just economy that Labour will deliver when next in government.

‘And Labour’s transport policy will be more than just a mechanism for achieving economic growth, it will also help to build a more caring and inclusive society, alleviating social exclusion and connecting isolated communities and individuals. Rail policy will be central to our plans, when next in government, and I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with you and all our rail unions as crucially important colleagues in our movement.

‘I believe the last Labour government has a record on rail that we can be proud of but we could have done more and we should have done more. I know many of you will share my frustration that in 13 years of government Labour failed to reverse the disastrous privatisation of rail in the UK. When we look at the history of rail privatisation and its impact on passengers it isn’t difficult to understand the overwhelming public support for bringing railway services back into public ownership.’

Andy also hit back at the Blairites, in Progress, who are seeking to undermine the Labour Party’s direction of travel. He said: ‘We are told we have to reach out to voters beyond our core vote. Well, let’s say it, loud and proud, taking our railways back into public ownership is what the overwhelming majority of the public want - whatever their allegiances. Quite simply, it’s popular! The Tory privatisation of British Rail wasa rushed, botched, job which had more to do with ideology than any clear plan for the railways. The legacy is a fragmented and expensive rail network.Hundreds of millions of pounds leaks out of our railways in taxpayer subsidies that should be better directed to investing in our services, making fares affordable and supporting the people who really run our railways - the drivers,the guards, the ticket office staff, the cleaners, the catering staff, the administrators, the designers, the engineers, the managers, everyone who works in the industry. They run our railways and we should recognise their commitment to our railways listen to them and work with them to deliver the services that our people want.’

Andy said the Tories’ drive to close ticket offices and remove staff from platforms and trains encapsulates the short term thinking and false economies of the politics of austerity. ‘The push to expand Driver Only Operation across our networks is one such example. Customers value human presence on their trains, especially people with disabilities.’

Back »

By continuing to use this site, you agree to the use of cookies. For more information please refer to ASLEF’s Privacy Policy