AAD 2021: Day 2
Our Annual Assembly of Delegates (AAD) is taking place online this week for the first time ever. Delegates are logging in from across the country and the union is getting used to a different way of operating.
AAD is our policy-making parliament and a key part of the union's democratic structure. This year Daniel Masrani from Cardiff was elected Chair and Deborah Reay, Women's Representative Committee, was elected vice chair.
Sadiq Khan On Monday morning we were pleased to welcome Sadiq Khan, newly re-elected Mayor of London, to open our conference. He told delegates: 'This last year has shown us who the key workers really are that keep our country running, and our cities moving, and I want to pay tribute to ASLEF members for the immense contribution you've made throughout the pandemic, not just in London, but up and down our country. As Mayor, my focus now is on putting the dark days of the pandemic behind us and delivering a brighter future for all of our communities, where we strive to protect and create the high-quality, well-paid, unionised, jobs Londoners deserve.'
It was great to have the Mayor's recognition for ASLEF members' efforts as key workers keeping London – and the country – moving during the pandemic.
We hold an AAD every year, with every other year being a 'rules' conference, where branches can proposed changes to the ASLEF rule book. This year is one of those years, so the conference started with some rule changes designed to tidy up the rule book and update it for the way branch secretaries now operate. As one delegate put it 'we're just clearing away the dead wood.'
On Monday, conference heard from the union's auditors and trustees. Phil Clark, in his auditors' report, and Bill Good, in his trustees' report, said that, despite the pandemic, our finances are strong and both gave our union a 'clean bill of financial health'.
Dave Tyson, trustee director of the Railways Pension Scheme, also spoke to delegates for the last time on Monday, after 20 years as a trustee, and 40 years on the railway. He said: 'I am pleased to report that, as of today, the value of the scheme is almost back to pre-pandemic levels and, in the past year, the investment transformation programme has saved a whopping £250 million.'
Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, speaking on Tuesday afternoon, praised general secretary Mick Whelan – 'I have always found him to be honest, and hard-working, who says what he means to your face, which is not always the case'– and assistant general secretary Simon Weller 'who sits on the TUC general council and is a brilliant champion, not just for ASLEF, but for all the transport unions.' She added: 'ASLEF is not just a fighting union, it fights fair, and it fights smart. Your campaigns – like greening the transport system, and Mind the Gag – have made a real difference.'
Delegates can also bring emergency motions to conference on issues that have arisen recently and therefore couldn’t be submitted in advance. On Tuesday, an emergency motion was unanimously passed, welcoming the £250m bailout by shareholders – including the French government – to secure the future of Eurostar and condemning the UK government for its inactivity and laissez faire approach to dealing with the existential threat to the company, the future of high speed rail and our members' livelihoods.