Union at Parliament

01 July 2005

ASLEF leaders met MPs last evening to discuss how politicians can assist and develop union campaigns. The MPs put forward positive proposals and suggestions on the Freight on Rail and rail safety campaigns, offered to promote a debate within the union on Europe and considered methods of raising ASLEF concerns in Parliament.

The meeting began with a review of the General Election – and the ASLEF group of MPs stressed the importance of trade union assistance in Labour’s victory. Ann Cryer was especially grateful because the BNP had conducted a particularly volatile campaign in her constituency. Robin Cook specifically thanked ASLEF members north of the border. 

The union representatives – led by acting General Secretary Keith Norman, National Organiser Andy Reed and vice-president Steve Usher– explained the background to, and progress in, the legal cases involving BNP member Jay Lee. Gwyneth Dunwoody reminded the meeting that the trial of BNP leaders Tyndale and Griffin for incitement to racial hatred was due to begin in Leeds on 16 June.

The politicians congratulated the union on its ‘Who Cares?’ campaign to move more freight by rail. They felt that, with suitable pressure, it was an issue that could attract government support because it could improve environmental targets without affecting the population’s life-style. They advised the union about expert advice on carbon savings and the Kyoto protocol. 

There were also discussions about the ownership of former Railtrack land, and the MPs promised to attempt to involve the government in the union campaign to use available technology to counter the hazards of level crossings.

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