ASLEF Annual Assembly of Delegates

01 July 2005

Clean coal call to ASLEF delegates

Miners leader Ian Lavery won strong applause from ASLEF delegates with a powerful call for a new industrial and social policy for Britain.

Calling for the reversal of the pit closure programme he described ASLEF as ‘true comrades of the miners, their families and the mining communities.’

‘What should we expect from a third term Labour government he asked before launching into a well-received call for re-nationalisation of public utilities, rail and coal, the repeal of anti union laws, the end of PFI and PPP, an end to top up fees and a fair tax system that put the burden on the rich.

In a thoughtful speech he drew the connections between the US drive for carbon fuel resources - which had drawn Britain into an illegal war and occupation of Iraq.

With climate change a mounting crisis he said ‘clean coal’ technologies in an integrated energy policy – with an accent on renewables and Britain abandoned coal reserves – was the only rational choice.

Pointing out that productive pits like Selby were closing while Britain imported 150 million tons of coal annually he said carbon fuel prices had gone up on the spot market to £2 while the Selby produced the equivalent energy at 75p.

Unions key to Labour victory

Employment relations ministers Gerry Sutcliffe told ASLEF delegates that labour could not have won a third term without the trade unions and trade unionists.

Arguing that Labour won the election on a detailed manifesto ‘which would be delivered’, he said the government would tackle the problems of the railway industry and deal with the flawed structure put in place at privatisation.

POLITICS: ASLEF keeps Labour link

Delegates defeated a call to reduce the union’s affiliation to the Labour Party to notional levels by a two to one majority. 

Delegates backed a call by union president Alan Donnelly that if a change in government policies did not occur then a ‘regime change’ would be needed.

EU Constitution condemned as ‘Charter for privatisation’

The European Constitution found no backers at the assembly. Acting general secretary Keith Norman caught the mood when he described the EU constitution as ’a charter for privatisation bereft of workers rights.’

Criticising the EU Bolkenstein directive Keith Norman said under its provisions a railway freight company could be registered under a ‘flag of convenience’ in a country with poor health and safety laws yet operate in Britain under those laws.

Brighton delegate Simon Weller said the EU Constitution functioned as ‘an aggressive attack on working people with a compulsion to privatise. But delegates rejected calls to cut Labour party funding after Keith Norman said the success of union campaigns over criminal injuries compensation for drivers affected by suicides on the railway, the union’s safety campaign and its newly launched bid to boost freight on rail were aided by the union’s political links.

ASLEF growing

The union was admitting far more new members than were lost through natural causes said Keith Norman. Eighty to ninety new members every month had pushed the membership to a contemporary high of 18,272 members.

Dealing with inter union issues on the railway Keith Norman pointed to the progress made in the campaign to win the Labour Party to rail public ownership . "Closer working with the TSSA had made this possible", he said.

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