When we stand together, in unity, we succeed

2022-05-01 -
Array, ASLEF
Mick Whelan wearing a suit and ASLEF tie

Mick Whelan's Column - May 2022


This is the time of the year when we look to invigorate our policies at AAD – our annual assembly of delegates – when we look to the future, to what we seek to achieve, and to that which we aspire, when we set out where we want to go industrially, politically, and as a society.

As I have travelled the length and breadth of Scotland, Wales, and England I have never seen so many people depressed on so many fronts, for fear of such an uncertain future for themselves and for future generations. Ukraine is seeing war crimes perpetrated by Vladimir Putin and Russia on a daily basis and the knock on effect across Europe, and the world, is causing untold uncertainty. Peace is needed now as the human cost grows and escalation – including the unthinkable – is threatened.

"I feel the coming months are going to be difficult"

After over a decade of Conservative government and austerity we find public services decimated, councils having lost 60% of their budgets, millions struggling, and children going hungry. This is all down to political choice. It’s nothing to do with Brexit or covid; these measures were already in situ. And, on top of that, we have the highest tax burden for decades, stagnant wages, and an economy not competing on the world stage. We are ‘world beating’ only at lying. We have a Prime Minister who fabricates at every opportunity and, as  was said recently, ‘is not worthy of high office’. His colleagues who replicate every falsehood in a vain defence need to go. Now.

The P&O scandal rumbles on and the fight by the RMT and Nautilus must not only be applauded but supported as the government is doing nothing and the MP for Dover turned on the unions who had the temerity to point out her hypocrisy in supporting the very fire and rehire (or simply hire) process that caused the problem. Helped, of course, by a law change from Chris ‘Failing’ Grayling.

Many of you have not had a pay rise for three years and the industry has been put on notice that, due to the inflationary pressure, tax rises, heating, food and fuel bills, we want proper increases, not self-funded, by the anniversary dates contained within proper and meaningful talks or we will be in dispute. Any recommended deal will go to the members in the undertaking concerned by ballot.

It seems the period of industry co-operation over covid is over and they will seek to unfairly reintroduce MFA-type policies for covid so people will be treated differently going forward. We will not stand for that when, as I write, 480 people died yesterday. We want to know not what the crap government guidance is but what safe systems they are going to put in place under their duty to each and every one of you.

I feel the coming months are going to be difficult – but we have been through difficult times before, and will go through difficult times again, in the future, but our history tells us that, when we stand together, in unity and solidarity, staying true to each other and our
beliefs, then we succeed. Not just now but as a marker for the future.

Please be safe…

Yours in solidarity,

Mick Whelan

General Secretary