The strength of the unions in the rail industry means that young drivers do not face the problems routinely encountered by the wider trade union and labour movement for younger people such as precarious employment and low pay.
As a union ASLEF began to recognise this and increased efforts to engage with younger members, there were also a need for the union to inspire the next generation of ASLEF representatives and activists. So in 2017 this lead to the introduction of the ASLEF's Young Members Forum which initially ran as a pilot project for 18 months until it officially became a representative committee at the union’s annual conference in 2018.
The committee comprises of one elected member per district who must be aged 35 or under, its primary roles are to:
Examine the barriers to becoming an activist or representative within ASLEF and suggest appropriate ways of overcoming any problems identified.
Develop methods of giving support and encouragement for young members to become ASLEF activists and representatives.
Encourage young members to become active within the wider labour movement and develop training and support to achieve this amongst young members.
Collate data on driver recruitment within the rail industry and actively develop strategies to promote younger recruitment into the driving grade.
Engage with the TUC young workers’ forum and ensure that ASLEF policies are given a voice in those structures.
The committee ensures that the voices of young members are heard within the union’s structures; committee members regularly meet with the General Secretary, Assistant General Secretary and Executive Committee to discuss any concerns.
The Young Members 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.
November 2017 saw ASLEF’s first young members’ conference held in London. The conference brought together members of the Young Members Forum along with young drivers from across the country. The aim of the event was to educate young members on union structures and the ways in which they could become active in their local areas.
Each year ASLEF sends delegations to the TUC and STUC young workers conferences. In the wider trade union movement, they have campaigned for reduced rail fares for over 18’s in full time education or training, improved mental health services for young people, action to address climate change and pension provisions for young workers.
If you are an ASLEF member you can find out who your Young Members Representative Committee member is by clicking here.