New General Secretary at train drivers' union ASLEF

01 July 2005

In a membership vote announced today, Keith Norman has been elected the new General Secretary of train drivers" union ASLEF.

Keith, who has been acting General Secretary since the dismissal of Shaun Brady last year, won a comfortable 1,000 vote victory with 3,631 votes to 2,674 in a ballot with a turn out of around 40%.

Keith, who is from South Wales, is a long-term Labour Party member who says he supports his party ‘loyally but not slavishly’. He is known to be angry about the government’s refusal to take railways back into public ownership, its support for the 48 hour working week opt-out and its reluctance to restore basic trade union right. 

But he says his priority in his term of office (which he will not contest again) is the regrouping and reform of ASLEF’s organisation and communications. He says his task as ‘creating a climate where change is embraced rather than resisted’ saying, ‘I want to help create a culture where ideas are welcomed and initiatives are appreciated and open debate is encouraged.’

During his tenure as acting General Secretary Keith has concentrated on industrial issues ‘the bread and butter union business of improving train drivers’ incomes, conditions and safety’. He has also pushed programmes to control union expenditure, monitor its financial authority and secure its financial position. He is pledged to restore stability and security to an organisation that has suffered ‘ wasted and destructive days’ over the last twelve months.

He says he is optimistic about the future of ASLEF. ‘Membership has increased. We’ve finally got a plan for a proper Freight on Rail campaign. We’re bending ears about level crossings and we’re back in the public eye. The only way is up!’

ASLEF operates a voting system which means the winner must obtain an overall majority, so there were only two candidates in the ballot announced today. Keith’s opponent was Clive Jones, another south Welshman who was a union trustee. Originally five people stood for the union’s top job, but the others were eliminated in a first-round vote announced on 1 June.



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