Third day of 2006 ASLEF conference discusses industrial and international affairs

07 June 2006

The union’s Annual Assembly of Delegates today discussed a number of proposals on industrial and international affairs and heard an address by transport minister Derek Twigg.

 

Derek Twigg MP gave an address that will appear on the web site over the coming days and was open enough to answer questions from conference delegates. The outcome of the major debates that took place were as follows:

 

 

INDUSTRIAL ISSUES

 

The conference called for

 

· the extension of free travel facilities to all rail workers

 

· a national qualification for all drivers which would enable them to carry over promotion, transfer, redundancy and long service awards if they moved to a new employer

 

· smaller differentials between newly qualified and longer service drivers; and

 

· an extension of flexible working – for both women and men

 

Delegates also agreed a change to the Driver’s Charter so that the union should aspire to a 32-hour working week over four days with a maximum shift of no more than nine and a half hours a day. There was opposition from delegates who argued that it was not realistic in freight - but the change was adopted on the basis that the Charter was aspiration rather than compulsory.

 

 

INTERNATIONAL MATTERS

 

ASLEF’s vice-president Tosh McDonald said he was delighted that ASLEF’s agenda items on international matters at this year’s conference had been put forward by branches rather than coming from the top table.

 

‘It is a mark of the maturity of our union and a welcome development,’ Tosh told delegates.

 

The conference

  • condemned attacks against gay people in Colombia, Jamaica and Iran
  • pledged itself to defend the democratic and progressive government of Venezuela
  • condemned the continued illegal imprisonment without trial of US prisoners in Guantanamo Bay
  • offered its continued support to the campaign for Justice for Colombia.

 

The union will also call on the Prime Minister to review his appointment of Ruth Kelly as his equalities minister Ruth Kelly in view of her membership of Opus Dei, an organisation which is anti-gay, anti-women’s rights and opposed to a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion.

 

Delegates also called for ASLEF to apply ethical and fair trade policies to garments and other products used and sold by the union.

 

The union also registered its concern for British soldiers in Iraq and other countries. Tosh McDonald pointed out, ‘Ordinary soldiers are working class people. The problem is not the soldiers but the politicians who make irresponsible military decisions from their safe and comfortable homes.’

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