ASLEF Annual Assembly of Delegates

01 July 2005

Put Labour back into the party

Put Labour back in the party and put the public back into public services – including rail Nottingham South MP Alan Simpson told delegates to the ASLEF assembly. ‘The Labour government is going to have to reconnect with its natural voters and the labour movement’ he said.

Alan Simpson, who chairs the ASLEF group of MPs and is secretary of the Campaign group of Socialist MP thanked the union for its active role in winning a labour majority.

Labour in government must try to macro manage the British and global economy rather than to micro manage people’s lives he said.

It is difficult to tell kids on the street that robbery is wrong when they live in a society that allows the private robbery of public money where our railways and public services can be stolen and plundered. 

Shift freight to rail

ASLEF’s assembly today laid out the ground for a ground-breaking union-led campaign to shift freight traffic on to rail. 

The union’s Who Cares campaign takes in two lobbies of parliament and a wide ranging publicity and education programme designed to make the connection between a rational, planned and integrated freight transport policy that can contribute to meeting fuel emission targets said acting general secretary Keith Norman.
‘One freight train can take 40 lorries off the road’ he said.

Doncaster delegate Tosh McDonald said that the union needed to take the initiative because only the trade unions had the broader interests of the community while freight companies were more interested in stealing business off each other rather than devise a n integrated strategy.

Community rail concerns

Watford delegate Neal Cooper gave voice to worries that the lobby for so-called ‘community rail partnerships’ could compromise safety and job security.

Demanding assurances on job security and depot workloads he asked ‘How is the circle to be squared when better service is offered but at a lower cost?’

Keith Norman said the union had real worries about safety when advocates of community rail partnerships suggested rural and branch lines could do without ‘gold standard’ safety procedures.

It is one thing for the local women’s institute to take care of a local station and put flowers in the window boxes, he said but safety for our members and the travelling public is not negotiable. And community rail partnerships cannot proceed at the expense of professional staffing and proper running.

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