On 13 April the ASLEF Executive Committee met to hear reports from the Merseyrail Drivers' Company Council and the District 3 Full Time Officer Andy Hourigan.
Merseyrail's pay 'offer' to drivers for 2021 was 0% on pay, and a stipulation that any changes to Terms and Conditions negotiated needed to be 'self-financing' aka 'cost neutral'.
The directly elected reps on the Company Council and the FTO both recommended rejection of the non-offer.
Normal process in ASLEF in this situation is that the EC notifies the employer that their offer is not acceptable to the union and 'sends the reps and the officer back in' to attempt to secure an improved deal or progress the issue further towards a dispute footing.
The EC have been known to overturn Council recommendations on pay before and either accept or reject offers against the reports received, especially in situations where the FTO disagrees with the Council. But no one we spoke to can remember them doing what they did this time...
Rather than support elected reps as they should have done, or accepted the offer and had the difficult conversation with the membership as to why it was right to do so, the EC chose instead to 'note' the correspondence from the Council and Officer and from the employer.
They have chosen to accept an appalling pay offer over the heads of members and reps, without even having the guts to acknowledge that that is what they have done.
It seems that ASLEF is continuing on its present, class-collaborationist trajectory and is seeking to assist the Rail Delivery Group (the umbrella body of passenger rail employers) in managing the industry in the hope of avoiding attacks on their members down the line.
This never works, it is a strategy only for the slow, agonising death of a trade union and the movement more widely.
The union's leaders should be ashamed of themselves. Leadership figures will be appearing at Merseyrail branch meetings in the next week or two, where they are sure to be given a well-deserved hard time.
It is hard to fathom why ASLEF, along with the other rail unions, is threatening to ballot members over pay at Scotrail but refuses to fight in Merseyside, where its members have a proven, exemplary recent track record of solidarity in the face of attempts to introduce DOO.