Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/362/5958
Rebuilding The Union
LAST MONTH, Shaun Brady - the right-wing general secretary of the railway union Aslef (Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen) - was dismissed from office by the union's executive committee for gross misconduct.
In the following article a railworker exposes Brady's links with the bosses and the New Labour leadership.
ALARM BELLS rang throughout the train drivers' union Aslef after an article appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 30 August. This article reported that Shaun Brady and Mick Blackburn were planning to split the union, taking thousands of members with them. Brady and Blackburn are the recently sacked general secretary and assistant general secretary.
According to the article they would put their plans into effect if their appeals against their dismissals are unsuccessful at the Annual Assembly of Delegates (AAD) beginning on 26 September.
When Brady was elected the socialist identified him as a bosses stooge. His campaign manager was former general secretary Lew Adams, now a senior rail executive.
In case any Aslef members were still in doubt as to where the Brady faction was coming from, a timely expos has appeared in the papers. A leaked document proves that New Labour, through transport minister Kim Howells, has been interfering in the affairs of the union.
RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union members will remember that Tony Blair supporters in the TUC tried to prevent the election of Bob Crow as RMT general secretary. It's time that we had an inquiry into interference and subversion of the rail unions by unfriendly elements.
Even worse in the eyes of rail workers, Brady got a senior rail boss to write his inaugural address to the AAD. This speech was never made as the AAD was postponed.
The speech was written by Stephen Hardwick, director of public affairs at the British Airports Authority, owners of Heathrow Express. Brady had been put in touch with him by a Labour MP.
When the Heathrow Express line was set up the management stated that they would not employ workers with railway experience. This was to keep the rail unions out. They set up a company staff association, the Heathrow Express Staff Association.
Aslef described their management as having an "anti-union Victorian attitude". The union had to wage a determined campaign, culminating in three strikes in October 2003 to get recognition.
Aslef members must be astounded that a senior manager from this company was writing their general secretary's speeches. It now appears that this was not the only favour done for Brady by Hardwick. In covering note to an email, Hardwick says that he had written three speeches and was preparing more.
In his AAD address, thankfully never made, Brady was to be fulsome in his praise for the "achievements of the government" and blistering in his attacks on the union executive and the left within the union. He was to portray himself in the tradition of former Aslef general secretaries Ray Buckton and Lew Adams.
Ray Buckton has been exposed as a special branch spy who was rewarded with directorships when he retired including with NIREX the nuclear waste disposal agency.
Last April Adams gave an address to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnership on "how he moved 17,000 resistant public sector union members into the position of understanding the benefits of working for the private sector".
Rail workers will remember it well. Adams had come under enormous pressure to call action against privatisation. In 1993 three one-day strikes were called, the first two were 100% solid. Not one union member disregarded the strike call. The network came to a complete stop.
On the third day the London tube unions got their act together and joined in against the threat of tube privatisation, only for Adams to call the dispute off on the eve of the strike. He gave the bosses and the Tories everything they wanted, for minimal concessions. This was a historic defeat for the rail unions.
Strangely some on the left tried to portray this as a victory. The Morning Star had a jubilant front page extolling the Aslef leadership.
The Brady leadership is discredited and have been ejected. Aslef members should use this opportunity for a new beginning, for a socialist leadership under the democratic control of the rank and file.
Rail workers want more unity not splits. The unions should merge to form one union for the rail industry.
In The Socialist 18 September 2004:
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party campaigns