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 woefully low numbers of women, within the train-driving grade and make suggestions to alter this. You can read more about On Track with Diversity here
In addition to its work to increase the number of women recruited into the railway industry ASLEF also has an active Women’s Representative Committee. The committee comprises of eight members elected to represent the female members 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 female 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 Women’s 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 women’s committee provide an avenue for confidential support and advice for female members within their districts. This is particularly important as female members may find some issues difficult to discuss with male reps.
Examples of work of the women’s representative committee in recent years include campaigns on menopause as a workplace issue and contributing to the Mind the Gag on workplace banter. They have produced reps guides on domestic abuse, supporting women at work and the menopause. Industrially they have called for improvements to toilet facilities, greater acceptance of flexible working, paid leave for victims of domestic abuse and maximum driving turns to help prevent toxic shock syndrome.
Each year ASLEF sends delegations to the TUC and STUC women’s conference. In the wider trade union movement they have campaigned for the decriminalisation of sex work, abortion rights, railway cuts and an end to period poverty
If you are an ASLEF member you can find out who your Women’s Representative Committee member is here