Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://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.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Coronavirus crisis - Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • Our 'fighting coronavirus workers' charter', outlines a programme to combat the virus and protect workers' living conditions.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our special coronavirus appeal.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation

 

Your message: 

 






Related links:

Aslef:

triangleTube strike solid against victimisation

triangleWho wants driver-only operation?

triangleGuards move closer to beating driver-only operation

triangleGovernment continues to back failed private rail

TUC:

triangleCovid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

triangleUnion independence must be maintained - a reply to the TUC

triangleNational Shop Stewards Network TUC rally

triangleLow Pay, Long Hours. Bosses rip us off. Organise the fightback now!

RMT:

triangleFight P&O's billionaire bosses' jobs cut plan

triangleTransport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleTransport union RMT tells members: refuse to work in unsafe conditions

Union:

triangleEnergy firm plans to make 2,600 redundant

triangleNo return to unsafe construction sites

Rail:

triangleThe Red Line - Bulletin of Socialist Party members in the RMT

Drivers:

triangleNo increase in transport capacity without adequate safety precautions

Unions:

triangleThe 'Lucas Plan'

Strike:

triangle1920s Britain: A "country nearer Bolshevism than at any time since"

Trade union:

triangleWest Midlands trade union activists discuss the battle for safety on the front line

Workers:

triangleEconomic collapse leads to renewed protests across Lebanon

Working-class:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Why are coronavirus deaths higher in working-class areas?

Socialist Party:

triangleLondon Socialist Party: Workers' safety before bosses' profits

Militant:

triangleMick Cotter 21-9-57 to 20-5-20

Train drivers:

triangleFantastic RMT London Underground victory

Rob Williams:

triangleWorkers fighting to defend safety and livelihoods - NSSN national meeting a huge success

Solidarity:

triangleNottingham uni occupation ends

Right-wing:

triangleGermany: Right-wing terror attacks - fight racism, fight capitalism!

Government:

triangleSchools aren't safe

Media:

triangleThe role of the Socialist during the corona crisis

Council:

triangleHull Trades Council debates workers' political representation

News and socialist analysis

News and socialist analysis

29/5/20

Labour

Lessons from the Corbyn experience

27/5/20

TUC

Covid crisis boosts union membership but TUC leaders want to cosy up to the bosses!

27/5/20

Coronavirus

Reckless, lying cheats

26/5/20

Coronavirus

United action can defeat Tories' dangerous school plan

26/5/20

Coronavirus

Coronavirus pandemic news in brief

26/5/20

Coronavirus

More blunders and profiteering in Tory track-and-trace scheme

25/5/20

Coronavirus

Care home workers suffer PPE shortage and job loss fears

22/5/20

Coronavirus

Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety

20/5/20

Coronavirus

Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19

20/5/20

Benefits

Universal Basic Income: not a solution to insecurity and poverty under capitalism

20/5/20

Covid

Furlough cut-off could force millions back to unsafe workplaces

20/5/20

Council

Crisis in council services: Labour must fight or stand aside

20/5/20

Rich

Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts

19/5/20

Coronavirus

Transport workers and passengers mustn't pay the price

triangleMore News and socialist analysis articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 07748 534 891

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999