ASLEF in action in Brighton

16 September 2017


ASLEF delegates made a series of significant interventions in debates at the TUC in Brighton.


Garry McKenney, of Sheffield Midland, told congress the Tories are failing Britain by failing to invest in this country’s infrastructure. Speaking from the podium on Tuesday afternoon, he said: ‘The Tories reneged on their promise to electrify the Great Western main line form Cardiff to Swansea, the Midland main line, and tracks in the Lake District, despite many assurances over the years that the work was going to happen. Electrified rail is faster, greener, more efficient and more reliable. Despite the government’s protestations that bi-mode trains are a better alternative we know they are not the long-term answer to our transport needs. This represents short-termism and the same old Tory agenda of cuts.’


Cliff Holloway, of Euston branch, told congress that rail could be the key to meeting the UK’s clean green commitments. Speaking from the podium in the climate change debate on Tuesday afternoon, he said: ‘ASLEF fully supports the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions through the development of a sustainable transport policy based on improving the public transport sector and moving more freight transport from road to rail. Transport is responsible for a quarter of the UK’s greenhouse emissions so we see large cuts in transport emissions of carbon dioxide as essential if the UK is to meet its climate change targets.’


Simon Weller, assistant general secretary, moved a motion on Wednesday morning, proposed by ASLEF and seconded by the GMB, calling for the decriminalisation of sex work. Sex work, he said, speaking from the podium, ‘is on the increase, because of austerity, substance abuse, and insecurity in workplace. This is not about legalisation; it’s about decriminalisation. This is an emotive subject. But we’re not suggesting making prostitution compulsory. We’re suggesting we should protect sex workers like we protect other workers.’



GS Mick Whelan chaired the Justice for Colombia fringe meeting where the main guest speaker was Huber Ballesteros, the Colombian trade union leader and former political prisoner.


Mick also spoke at a Palestine Solidarity fringe in the Brighton Centre, sharing a platform with Ben Jamal, director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign; Hugh Lanning, chair of the PSC; Aimee Shalan, chief executive of Medical Aid for Palestinians; Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union; and Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite.


Debbie Reay, ASLEF’s WRC chair, spoke at a packed Labour Representation Committee fringe – on the Tories and austerity – at the Friends Meeting House on Tuesday night on a platform with Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union; Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS; Maria Exall of the Communication Workers Union; and Niki Adams of the English Collective of Prostitutes.







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