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ASLEF: The Battle Continues
SHAUN BRADY who unexpectedly defeated Mick Rix to become general secretary of the train drivers' union ASLEF, has been dismissed from his post. A previous issue of the socialist (issue 362) exposed Brady's links with the bosses and the New Labour leadership. An ASLEF member explains the background to these events in the union.
The union's executive committee (EC) sacked Brady after he refused to carry out their instructions to co-operate with an enquiry headed by Mathias Kelly QC. Kelly was asked to enquire into : "The financial, operational and related affairs of the union from January 1994 to March 2004." This period covers the time Mick Rix was general secretary. Kelly found no evidence to support various allegations against Mick Rix.
Brady's refusal to co-operate was deemed to be gross misconduct. He has also been found guilty of charges relating to the infamous barbecue and dismissed twice on these charges.
The deputy general secretary, Mick Blackburn, has also been dismissed for forging a reference for a relative. The union president, Martin Samways, resigned over the barbecue incident.
In some ways all this has by-passed ordinary members. Branches continue to meet and local reps provide advice, support and representation. But the name and reputation of the union have been damaged.
Brady pursues an extreme form of Blairism - the union should co-operate with the bosses and government in the hope of securing more jobs. We should be 'partners' with the bosses.
This goes along with the idea that ASLEF is a craft union and we should turn our backs on the rest of the working class in Britain and internationally.
The EC majority appear to defend a more traditional trade union approach that negotiations with the employers will sometimes fail and disputes will occur. The idea that the EC is dominated by left-wingers is far-fetched.
The union's conference, the Annual Assembly of Delegates (AAD), was postponed because of the need for it to consider the Kelly report.(see below)
The EC runs the union and the general secretary works under the direction of the EC, not the other way around as Brady seems to think. Much is made by Brady supporters that he was elected. So are the members of the EC. ASLEF is not a one-person dictatorship.
Many branches are not represented at the AAD for reasons of cost. Smaller branches are grouped and one delegate is sent from the group in rotation.
If a delegate cannot attend and another cannot be elected, the EC member for the area can choose the replacement. The right of all branches to be represented at the AAD must be fought for to re-win the confidence of members.
ASLEF needs to be rebuilt as a trade union fighting to unite drivers with other railworkers to struggle for a unified, integrated, publicly-owned and democratically accountable rail industry.
The AAD voted by 46 to 19 against debating Brady's dismissal. Acting general secretary Keith Norman urged him to go home and allow the disciplinary procedure to continue.
On the following day, delegates voted by 45 votes to 30 against a resolution to halve ASLEF's funding for Labour. That is considered a close vote for ASLEF. Socialist Party member Andy Hudd moved the main resolution on this. During the debate one Labour supporter claimed that if the union cut its affiliation it would be expelled - which isn't true.
In The Socialist 2 October 2004:
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