Campaigning for a better future

01 June 2019

We have once more just debated all those industrial, social, political and international issues at the front of our branches' and members' minds and, once more, conference dealt with emotional and passionate issues in a comradely way.


I wish more branches would submit more items on the issues that affect them, our industry and their communities. It is strange that the questions I am often asked, and people say they would like altered, are not always reflected in motions or rule changes sent to AAD.


I have had a number of conversations about entry into the union. We have had to change the membership form to meet the needs of the Trade Union Act and the data requirements of GDPR. These are delivering problems for the union, as was the intention of the Conservative government, which wants to stifle the voice of civil society (but where is the legislation to deal with bad employers?)


The first issue we have is the number of people filling old forms that do not have the opt-in box for the political fund, so we have to err on the side of caution and assume they do not want to support, and a proportion of the new forms coming back without the box being ticked. That's fine if people do not want to contribute the few pennies it costs but it will hamper the campaigning we can do both within and outside the Labour Party on issues that affect each and every one of us.


The other issue is the box on the back of the form to use your data; if we cannot store it or use it we cannot ballot you or, in some cases, assist you. Can all branch secretaries please check the box is ticked?


Some people think trade unions are only about terms and conditions and we should not be involved in anything else. Wrong. This trade union has a long history of representing its members' views on fascism, racism, genocide, homophobia, women's rights, the NHS, education, Royal Mail, gas, water, electricity, pensions, green issues, the minimum wage, and others too numerous to mention.

And international issues, wars and dictatorships, in a world where transnationals operate everywhere and share bad practice and it's up to trade unions to share best practice. The important thing is that we move forward together, creating our own legacy of campaigning on issues old and new, for train drivers and their families and a better future for all, and those who come after us do the same.

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