Conference Report

19 August 2005



Opening address by Martin Samways, President of ASLEF


A strong defence of trade union internationalism was made by the President of ASLEF’s executive committee Martin Samways in his opening address to the conference in Scarborough.


“A trade union that forgets about internationalism has forgotten a part of itself,” he told delegates. “If there are any in our number who take the view that this is not our proper business I would say – what if you were a trade unionist in Colombia afraid you might never see your family again every time you left for work?


“What if you were a trade unionist in Palestine standing in the rubble of your wrecked offices? You would be glad to know that you had brothers and sisters who were willing and able to give what assistance they could.


“We cannot solve all the world’s problems. But we can ensure that every trade unionist standing up for workers’ rights and dignity in the face of repression knows one thing – they are not alone.”


Mr Samways also hailed the government’s action in transferring control of the railway network to a new public interest trust as a victory for ASLEF “which played the leading part in launching and running the campaign to persuade the government to change its mind.”


He offered full backing for Transport Secretary Stephen Byers. “For me, it is a mark of honour to be attacked by the sort of people criticising him now – the Tories, the City press, the shareholders.


“We should not for one second join the carping critics. Instead, we should take the lead once more in proposing and campaigning for the further steps needed to get the entire industry back under public control.”

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