Labour Research May 2004

Union news

ASLEF holds major internal inquiry

The executive committee of train drivers' union ASLEF was in permanent session last month after ordering a huge independent inquiry into the union's entire operations over the past decade.

The union has called in Mathias John Kelly QC, who was chair of the Bar Council in 2003 to carry out what the EC calls "a full, independent examination ...on all matters relating to the operation of the union" from 1 January 1994 to 26 March 2004. He will have full access to all internal documents and staff and appropriate members for interview.

The EC decision came after an earlier, leaked, draft report made allegations of financial mismanagement and questioned a severance payment made to former general secretary Mick Rix. The EC rejected that report because of "inaccuracies and discrepancies".

The new investigation has worsened tensions between the EC and the union's general secretary, Shaun Brady, which were strained a few months ago when he threatened to sack staff who had planned industrial action. The issue was resolved through the intervention of the TUC.

Kelly has been instructed to report his findings to the union's president and EC only, and they will be taking over the operation and organisation of the union while the investigation takes place.

Brady has been "instructed to list every matter requiring approval in consideration of the running of ASLEF", including finance, legal matters and building works.