The train drivers union – Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF), has decided to affiliate to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign.   ASLEF Nottingham

Delegates assembled in Southend for ASLEF’s Annual Assembly of Delegates received a message of solidarity from their sister union the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU).  The message from VPZU General Secretary declared:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am writing to you on behalf of the Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU) to extend fraternal greetings to the Annual Assembly of Delegates of ASLEF.

Our trade union was established in 1994, and belongs to the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine, which like the British Trade Union Congress is an affiliate to the European TUC and International Trade Union Confederation.

Ukraine has been in deep and tragic crisis since the defeat of the authoritarian government of our former President Yanukovych last year. Ukraine has been squeezed between an aggressive power in our East and neo-liberal economic policies from the West, the working people of Ukraine are suffering from both the terrible cost of war and of austerity. 

As railway workers we have been in the epicentre of this tragic situation, during which our trade union has continued to struggle for peace, unity and social justice. It should be also mentioned that our oligarch politicians have been trying for a long time to privatize the most profitable sectors of railway; as a result today on the 12th of May the technical default was announced. To our mind, this is made purposely for selling the whole railway at a cheap rate.VPZU Protest

In this situation we write to you as fellow railway workers to appeal to you for solidarity, we wish to establish direct links between VPZU and ASLEF, to be able to exchange experience and new ideas as trade unionists in our struggles.

It is only through the international solidarity and co-operation of our labour movements that the full truth of the situation in our two countries can be fully known to us. As such we wish to invite ASLEF to send a fact-finding mission to Ukraine to meet with fellow train drivers and members Ukrainian labour movement.

Our sister union the Independent Trade Union of Miners has recently hosted two delegations from your National Union of Mineworkers who have been warmly received in Ukraine. Your NUM participated in a national congress of mineworkers and a national protest against mine closures in Kiev. We would very much welcome the possibility of developing such solidarity between railway workers of Ukraine and the UK.

I wish you every success in your conference and victories for ASLEF in your struggles ahead.

Yours in solidarity,

Volodymyr Kozelskyi

The Head of Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine (VPZU)

ASLEF delegates voted unanimously to affiliate to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign endorsing a motion from Nottingham ASLEF branch:

This 2015 AAD notes:

  1. The ongoing conflict between the Ukrainian government and paramilitary forces in the east of the country backed by Russian imperialism.
  2. That all workers in Ukraine – Ukrainian-speaking, Russian-speaking and Russian – are facing attacks on their rights and living standards as a result of neo-liberal economic policies promoted by Western governments, the IMF, etc.
  3. That the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign has been established to support and build direct links with independent socialists and the labour movement in Ukraine and to help the Ukrainian people to determine their own future free from external intervention from Russian or Western imperialism This AAD resolves: 1. To circulate information from the campaign and about Ukrainian workers’ struggles to our members. 2. To affiliate to the campaign and make a suitable donation.

Tony Byrne an ASLEF activist whose branch submitted the motion said:

“I welcome ASLEF’s AAD voting to affiliate to the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign. For too long in Britain the problem has been presented as a battle for influence over Ukraine between outside forces representing big business, the EU/US versus Russia, neither of which deserves our support. The USC is a grass roots organisation that will build solidarity with any group of workers in any part of the Ukraine that is fighting to improve the situation for workers. “

Christopher Ford convenor of the Ukraine Solidarity Campaign said:

“ASLEF representatives from the beginning stated that the most important thing was to show solidarity with fellow trade unionists in Ukraine, and that is exactly what they have done. The Free Trade Union of Railway Workers of Ukraine has welcomed the prospect of making direct links with ASLEF and exchanging ideas and experiences of their common struggles, this is the way forward for the labour movement.”