BALLOT PAPERS went out this week for the general secretary election in Aslef, the train drivers' union. General secretary Mick Rix is seeking re-election, nominated by 83 branches. Shaun Brady, who has only 11 branch nominations, is challenging him. Rix became general secretary five years ago in an election that marked the beginning of a series of successes for left wing candidates.
Since then, Aslef has played a prominent political role, most notably in the Stop the War Coalition. It has also introduced new internal structures to improve the involvement of black, women and lesbian and gay members. Brady is against both those developments. An unofficial leaflet backing his election bid contained scurrilous attacks on Mick Rix and the stance Aslef has taken.
It also opposed moves towards national pay bargaining, which would be a major blow against the train operating companies and would be an advance for all rail workers.
The most right wing forces in the union want to see Mick Rix lose to Brady. Tony Blair too would like to see a member of the 'awkward squad' of trade union leaders beaten. That's why everyone who wants to see the unions stand up to the government should work for a clear victory for Mick Rix in this election.
Workers build on success
HANSON BRICK workers' threat to go on strike was enough to force the firm to increase its pay offer to the workers. The 1,400 workers, members of the Amicus, TGWU and GMB unions, threatened to hold a one-day strike across all 14 brick factories.
The management quickly came up with an improved deal which the workers voted to accept last week after a ballot. The pay rise is 4 percent over 15 months and 0.5 percent above inflation for a further 12 months.
Yarls Wood trial goes on
THE TRIAL of the remaining seven defendants charged after last year's fire at the Yarls Wood refugee centre run by Group 4 continues this week. Campaigners have kept up their support of the refugees in the court and held protests against Group 4's attempts to recruit new security guards to reopen Yarls Wood.
Pay campaign at Newsquest
JOURNALISTS AT Bradford Newsquest have decided to reballot for more strike action in their dispute over pay. They have already held an all-out strike to force the national media company to increase their pay.
Graduate trainee staff are paid as little as £12,000 a year. The workers wanted to reballot so they did not face the threat of being sacked after eight weeks strike action, as New Labour's law allows.