Better world for everyone

26 March 2019

We are, and always should be, a campaigning union carrying out the wishes of the membership on workplace issues, standards, health and safety, pay, equality fairness, legal protections and rights. This is on top of hundreds of existing policies on issues, at home and abroad, generated and rightly supported by this trade union over the 139 years of its existence.

 

Sometimes we should remind ourselves that we were formed not just as the collective industrial voice of our members, but to be a force and voice for social justice and a pressure group to achieve those aims and correct those injustices that impact on our members and their families.

 

To those who have not been in a trade union before, and think we are just an insurance policy, or about pay and conditions, it is our job to demonstrate that, together, we are more than that, and we operate as a movement for the greater good. There are, of course, those we will never convince, but as one of the few groups that have not seen austerity directly impact upon us we have a greater need to demonstrate our belief of a better world for everyone. None of us can believe it is right for children to go hungry outside of school terms or that one in five workers suffer in-work poverty. Work must pay and have the dignity that comes with it.

 

Trade unions were formed to give voice, strength, and liberty through education to drive social mobility and a more just society. It seems to me we still have a long way to go. Since politically-imposed austerity we have slipped back; childhood illnesses that had been eradicated have returned, life expectancy is decreasing, homelessness is increasing, and food banks are becoming the norm. With the norm comes acceptance and we will fight to see that does not happen. I am ashamed that we are the only generation to leave our children and grandchildren worse off. That should not be our legacy.

 

So with your support and help, and the help of your reps, ASLEF will continue to march, champion, campaign and  demonstrate. To add our voice and our logo to all those causes that advance society and help to build a better world. When we come under attack we are called 'greedy train drivers' and comparisons are made with other workers – to try to create the politics of envy – but those who say these things are not like us because we want decent wages and standards for everyone, and I have never seen any of our critics stand as we do – and we will continue to do.

 

May I add my congratulations to Graham Morris on his re-election as officer for District 1 and to Mark Daniels on his re-election as trustee. I look forward to continuing to work with them both.

 

Mick Whelan, General Secretary

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