Train drivers' leader 'has lost control of union'

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The Independent Online

The leader of the train drivers' union said today he had lost day-to-day control of his organisation because of a bitter power struggle with his executive.

Shaun Brady, who was elected general secretary of Aslef last year when he surprisingly beat left-winger Mick Rix, said he was not even allowed to buy a jar of coffee for the office.

The eight-member executive had decided to make all key decisions affecting the union, he said.

Mr Brady, 41, a lifelong supporter of the Labour Party and a Blairite, told the BBC that the office cleaner at Aslef had more power than him.

He described his position as like being under "house arrest" and hinted that he could have a case for constructive dismissal.

The left-wing executive has been in permanent session since last month, effectively taking power away from the former South West Trains driver.

The 17,000-strong union has been embroiled for months in a row over finances, leading to an investigation following allegations of misuse of funds.

The executive has now hired Matthias Kelly QC to conduct another inquiry, which will stretch back over the last 10 years to include the short reign of Mr Brady as well as his predecessors, Mr Rix and Lew Adams.

Mr Brady has endured a difficult time since his election and was involved in a dispute with his own staff last year which almost led to a strike.

The TUC had to intervene to avert a walk-out by workers employed at Aslef's head office in Hampstead, north London.

The current row is set to come to a head at the union's annual conference in the summer.

Aslef branches are expected to seek an explanation which could lead to an angry showdown.