For many years, ASLEF has campaigned for a more diverse industry and in 2012 commissioned the On Track with Diversity report with a further update published in 2019. Both reports investigate the lack of diversity, including the relatively low numbers of ethnic minority train drivers despite high representation in other grades. You can read more about On Track with Diversity here.
In addition to its work to increase the number of people from ethnic minorities recruited into the railway industry ASLEF also has an active BAME Representative Committee. The committee comprises of eight members elected to represent members from ethnic minorities within their district; they meet three times a year as a committee and report into their respective district councils.
The committee ensures that the voices of BAME members are heard within the union’s structures and provides a forum for members to raise issues which they may feel inhibited to do in branches or with local reps. Committee members regularly meet with the General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary and Executive Committee to discuss any concerns.
The BAME Representative Committee has a reserved seat at the Annual Assembly of Delegates, the unions’ annual conference. They can submit motions and rule changes giving them direct input into forming ASLEF policy.
Whilst not industrial representatives the BAME committee provide an avenue for confidential support and advice for ethnic minority members. This is particularly important as members from these communities may experience issues they find difficult to discuss.
Examples of the work of the BAME representative committee in recent years include fundraising and campaigning for Hope not Hate, Justice4Grenfell and Black Lives Matter UK. Industrially they have called for provisions made for members who are observing Ramadan, for faith/prayer rooms to be opened in workplaces and the right for ASLEF members to refuse to transport members of fascist organisations to demonstrations.
Each year ASLEF sends delegations to the TUC and STUC Black Workers Conferences. In the wider trade union movement they have campaigned for the prostate testing in black men, the engagement of young BAME trade union members, racism in football and rights for Romany Gypsy and Irish Traveller communities.
If you are an ASLEF member you can find out who your BAME Representative Committee member is by clicking here.