DELEGATES TO the conference of the train drivers' union Aslef unanimously reaffirmed the union's support for the anti-war movement and condemned the war against Iraq. Conference adopted an executive committee report condemning the 'unnecessary, immoral and unlawful' war.
General secretary Mick Rix argued trade unions should be involved in politics, saying that 'we have a right to question what is done in our name.What is now taking place in the world threatens all human beings and all workers.' There was anger at the way the government has abandoned investment in rail in favour of more road building. Delegates also voted for a return to national pay bargaining across the industry and for a 'publicly owned and publicly accountable rail network'.
Waterloo International delegate Hayley Elston said, 'All train drivers should be equal. We need to harmonise pay and conditions - a difficult task but absolutely necessary.'
This is one of the issues that Mick Rix is standing for re-election on in the next few weeks, and has the potential for delivering a united campaign across all grades in the industry and with the RMT union. A motion calling for a campaign to cut drivers' working hours again heard speeches slamming the government.
But delegates were swayed by the argument, put forcefully by the leadership, that it is better to stick with Labour in the hope of winning change from within.
One delegate, however, spoke for many when he told the conference that it 'gets harder each year to put this argument'.
Some speakers for the leadership's position promised swift, dramatic changes in the Labour Party which would move it back to an Old Labour position.