Is there life left in ASLEF?
Posters have appeared (see opposite) from what seems like rank and file ASLEF members criticising the role of their leadership during the last 12 months of pay negotiations and urging ASLEF members to vote no in their referendum on LUL’s pay offer. The question is does this mean that there is life left in ASLEF?
Since the beginning of RMT's pay campaign the ASLEF's role has been disgraceful. They have not backed RMT's reasonable demands for a decent pay offer for all grades but have done their utmost to disrupt it. Gone are the days of respecting picket lines. Gone are the days of trade union solidarity.
ASLEF have done management’s bidding since November 2008 when the RMT submitted its pay claim. While the RMT has done its level best to negotiate a fair settlement for all grades, they have been craven, cowardly and worse: they have collaborated with London Underground management to undermine our campaign.
As RMT members know, on the eve of two days strike action in June this year, their General Secretary lined up with Boris Johnson and LUL bosses calling for workers to cross picket lines.
Their members were armed with letters from Mr Norman instructing them to cross picket lines. There is an old fashioned name for this: scabbing! Keith Norman is a scab and the ASLEF itself as an organisation is a yellow union; an organisation that exists to divide the workforce and serve the interests of the bosses.
Just 3 weeks ago, they called a meeting of all their reps to discuss London Underground’s insulting pay offer - 1.5% this year and 0.5% for 2010. Like RMT, at a meeting of all its reps, ASLEF reps also discussed the offer and agreed that it was unacceptable and should be rejected. The RMT as a result is now re-balloting its members for strike action. What did the ASLEF leadership do? They decided to hold a referendum with a recommendation that their members accept this derisory pay offer.
Since then ASLEF have tried to divide the workforce further by attempting to negotiate a deal for just 25 drivers facing medical termination. Presumably their thinking is that this is some kind of face saving deal; they can't get you a decent pay rise, but look "we have got a deal for those drivers facing medical termination". You really couldn’t make this up. As Bob Crow said, “in a bid to split the unions and divide Underground workers, LUL proposed an arrangement whereby if “Signaller Dave” and “Train Operator John” both develop weak hearing, or diabetes for example, Dave might be terminated but John would get a chance of a CSA job, unless he was diagnosed later in the year and was unlucky enough to be the 26th train operator needing redeployment that year!”
It is the view of many workers on London Underground that any notion that ASLEF as a trade union that represents and organises workers is finished. However, since their decision to hold a referendum, the posters have organically appeared urging a no vote. These posters have shown up at the drivers step back room at Elephant & Castle and presumably elsewhere. Is this a sign that there is a spark of life left in ASLEF as an organisation? As one RMT activist on the Bakerloo Line said, “if you kick a corpse, it is bound to twitch a bit.”