Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/24653

Posted on 16 February 2017 at 14:07 GMT

Aslef members reject Southern deal - now for coordinated action with the RMT to fight to win

RMT Southern protest at Parliament 1.11.16, photo Paula Mitchell

RMT Southern protest at Parliament 1.11.16, photo Paula Mitchell   (Click to enlarge)

Rob Williams, Socialist Party industrial organiser

Train drivers in the trade union Aslef have delivered a tremendous answer of working-class solidarity that will astound Southern Rail management and the Tory government but also their own union leadership and that of the TUC. Despite the recommendation by Aslef leaders to accept the deal to end their dispute, drivers have rejected it by 54%-46% after a 72% turnout.

When the massive propaganda from the right-wing media is taken into account, as well as the fact that the talks were brokered by the TUC, this is welcome and decisive defiance to driver only operations (DOO). It also amounts to a censure to the Aslef leadership for being party to talks without the RMT rail union, whose guards and station staff have taken 28 days of strike action in a dispute that is a blatant attack on one of the most militant unions in the country.

The strike action by both unions had put management on the rack and should have been the basis for an agreement that threw out DOO, rather than a 'deal' that had so many holes in. It would have put drivers in the firing line in any future accidents and would have effectively imposed a settlement on the RMT, without a seat at the real talks.

The result is a vindication of the approach of the RMT, which correctly argued for joint talks, first at Acas and then at the TUC. But the TUC leadership have played a shameful role and should account for their actions at the next TUC general council and to an even a bigger audience. They are already sitting on a resolution that was moved by the RMT at last September's TUC congress to call a special conference against the Trade Union Act, which comes into operation on 1 March. It will include new undemocratic ballot thresholds that would mean rail workers face huge obstacles in getting legal strikes.

But this vote by Aslef members shows once and for all that if workers act together, nothing is insurmountable.

Aslef leader Mick Whelan has said: "We understand and support the decision arrived at democratically by our members and will now work to deliver a resolution in line with their expectations." But Aslef members will now expect immediate talks with the RMT to discuss coordinated action and no separate talks. RMT members have called a 24-hour strike on 22 February. If the rail unions act together, they can secure a famous victory for themselves and a safe service for the travelling public.


An Aslef member writes:

Aslef members around the country will be celebrating the decision of members employed by Southern to reject the deal over Driver Only Operation.

Many issues are raised in this dispute. The basis of opposing DOO is that train drivers already have enough to do.

We are constantly looking at safe working, speed, track conditions, obstacles on the track, low adhesion, where to shut off power, where to apply the brake, being alert to track workers, areas of potential trespass and suicide risk, indications of train faults and reporting these, customer safety approaching stations, contacting the signaller and the guard.

Then when a train terminates and we change ends for the return journey, we respond to questions, speak to platform staff, check that we have not breached safety rules when running late. That is enough, we neither need nor want to do the work of other grades.

Southern challenged all four ballots held by Aslef in this dispute, at the High Court. In the first three cases Southern won.

We know that their lawyers were given carte blanche to seek ways to undermine the dispute. Twenty lawyers worked full-time to frustrate our democratic vote. The legal bill passed to Aslef is over 600,000.

In the fourth case, Southern lost, they had apparently argued that a strike would breach freedom of movement rules under the European Union. They said this applied because they are partly French-owned.

As an Aslef member who recognises that unity among railworkers is vital to defeat the bosses' plans, I condemn the actions of the TUC leadership. It has gone along with the managements' divide and rule approach. Those who claim to be talking on our behalf must be accountable to us. The TUC General Secretary is not.

I heard a Tory MP on the radio suggesting the deal be tweaked to resolve the dispute. There can be no tweaking of Aslef policy which is abundantly clear - no extension of DOO. This dispute must be settled on that basis.

Aslef members know that if we lose on Southern, success elsewhere will be more difficult, there are similar battles coming elsewhere. With a determined fight, we will win.


This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 16 February 2017 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Aslef:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

triangleThird strike against driver-only operated trains suspended but dispute continues

triangleSolid strike across the rail network against unsafe driver-only operation

triangleWalkout on three rail networks against driver-only operated trains

triangleAslef offer: unity needed with the RMT

TUC:

triangleRoyal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangleUnite local government sector plans strike ballot

triangleTories torn - bin them now

triangleCWU fights court attempt to stop national strike

RMT:

triangleRMT strikes against removal of train guards spreads

triangleGig economy exploiter Uber loses London licence

triangleEscalate summer strike wave into coordinated action to defeat the pay cap

Union:

triangleConference on state spies: who's watching who?

trianglePowerful picture of the Port Talbot steel workers' struggle

Rail:

triangleHow the Single Market blocks socialist policies

Drivers:

triangleArriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

Unions:

triangleHundreds turn out for rally aimed at removing west Wales Tory MP

Strike:

triangleStriking back against sackers' charter at Leeds Uni

Trade union:

triangleTories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

Workers:

triangleCan you donate to the Socialism 2017 appeal?

Working-class:

triangleHow Blairism sank its claws into the Labour Party

Socialist Party:

triangle'Dazzling' Bad Art show points to socialist future

Militant:

triangleReadmit the socialists - for a federal Labour Party

Train drivers:

triangleSouthern dispute: Aslef members must reject offer

Rob Williams:

triangleFord workers vote for action

Solidarity:

triangleCampaign against political repression in Hong Kong

Right-wing:

triangleOctober 1917 reviews: 'More bright than any heaven'

Government:

triangleYoung people being strangled by debts

Media:

triangleObesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

Council:

triangleSheffield Labour council threatens peaceful protesters with prison

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

19/10/17

Refugees

Hundreds of torture victims wrongly detained

18/10/17

Brexit

Tories torn - bin them now

18/10/17

What we saw

What we saw

18/10/17

Food

Obesity epidemic: end food market anarchy

18/10/17

NHS

Tories scrap the NHS pay cap: now fight for real-terms pay rises!

18/10/17

Debt

Young people being strangled by debts

13/10/17

Labour

The end of the Tories?

11/10/17

Tories

Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

11/10/17

Black history

The fight against racial discrimination is tied to fighting against capitalist austerity

11/10/17

Housing

Housing crisis: Corbyn's positive measures blanked by Labour's right

11/10/17

Universal Credit

Major attacks 'Universal Credit', half a million more face poverty

11/10/17

Them & Us

Them & Us

11/10/17

NHS

NHS meltdown - fight the Tory cuts

11/10/17

IMF

IMF helps cause inequality it slams

4/10/17

NHS

Tories wreck our NHS

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party

triangle19 Oct Arriva North West bus drivers strike over pay

triangle18 Oct Russia, October 1917: When workers took power

triangle18 Oct Tories torn - bin them now

triangle18 Oct Royal Mail bosses block strike - back postal workers

triangle18 Oct Balloting members on the pay cap

triangle13 Oct The end of the Tories?

triangle11 Oct Nasty party imploding...drive out the Tories

More ...

triangle21 Oct Birmingham: NSSN Solidarity Forum

triangle23 Oct Chesterfield Socialist Party: The continuing struggle for abortion rights

triangle24 Oct Liverpool Socialist Party: The October Russian Revolution 100 years ago to the day

triangle25 Oct Salford Socialist Party: The October 1917 Russian revolution

More ...

Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

Archive

Archives:

October 2017

September 2017

August 2017

July 2017

June 2017

May 2017

April 2017

March 2017

February 2017

January 2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999

Legal

SP RSS feed RSS

Platform setting: = No platform choice

V2