GB Railfreight

Submitted by AWL on 20 November, 2006 - 12:44

In August ASLEF train drivers at GB Railfreight voted by about 2:1 not to strike against the company closing the final-salary pension scheme to new starters.

While RMT and TSSA were holding an industry- wide aggregated ballot on pension rights in June, ASLEF negotiated their way out of the dispute on a company-by-company basis promising that any company not signing up would face industrial action. They threw away the strength of a united rail union strike with an aggregate ballot preferring instead to get what they could for some drivers and leaving the others to take their chances. Maybe at the time they thought this would only effect the non-driving grades? Obviously that wasn't the case.

It isn't clear why the ballot lost. Possibly these drivers weren't interested in defending the rights of new starters (and indirectly their own) or maybe they didn't see any way of winning with a small workforce (68 returned ballot papers)? But if it was the latter wouldn't they have been much more ready to fight if the whole union and maybe even the other rail unions stood behind them?

ASLEF's strategy needs a re-think. Maybe that will be forthcoming when we read the promised article concerning this issue in the Journal; but don't hold your breath.

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