The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union Annual General Meeting (AGM) is discussing a proposal by the leadership to open a full debate in all branches and amongst the members culminating in a Special General Meeting to reaffiliate to the Labour Party. John McDonnell speaking at a fringe meeting appealed to the RMT to re-join as part of the struggle to strengthen a left Labour government against the bosses: establishment figures and big business would “do everything they can to prevent us implementing the manifesto, so that’s why we need you there.” (https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-b45e-John-McDonnells-…)
Leading figures in the RMT have already joined the Labour Party as part of the Corbyn movement, notably, Senior Assistant General Secretary Steve Hedley (who in the past supported the Socialist Party).
But there is opposition to this proposal in the union. Some of it is coming from members who think the union should have nothing to do with politics. More surprising, or perhaps the word is scandalously, the Socialist Party (SP) is also against. Their position is, yes, yes, we support Corbyn and McDonnell and we “offer our support” to them in their struggle BUT we will only affiliate after the LP allows expelled socialists back in and changes its internal structures to give Trade Unions more power. IF all these conditions are met, then we will consider reaffiliation!!!
This is scandalous. It’s like there is a fight on the other side of the road between strikers and scabs, who in turn are backed by the bosses. The SP is on this side of the road and argues for passing a resolution in support of the strikers, to offer them our support and gives them plenty of ADVICE on what THEY should be doing, but as for actually joining the fight, taking place now, the SP proposes that AFTER the strikers have won the battle, then we will CONSIDER joining them!!!
Here’s the full text of the resolution the SP is backing at the RMT AGM in case anyone thinks I am exaggerating:
The 2017 General Election represents an earthquake in British politics.
In just a few weeks the promotion of Jeremy Corbyn’s manifesto has mobilised one of the largest Labour votes in UK electoral history and delivered the largest increase in the Labour vote since 1945. The lie that a radical left program cannot attract support in Britain has been dispelled in spectacular fashion.
This AGM congratulates Jeremy Corbyn wholeheartedly for this achievement.
The AGM believes that if Labour continues to fight on the 2017 manifesto and avoids political concessions in the name of unity with Liberals or the Labour right then Corbyn is likely to win the next General Election.
RMT has a political strategy that starts from the principle of supporting those who support our socialist and industrial aims and objectives. The manifesto that Corbyn fought the 2017 General Election on was a clear departure from the New Labour pro-business policies of recent Labour campaigns and is clearly consistent with our own aims.
However, we also note that the majority of Labour MPs and councillors do not share Corbyn’s political outlook. In parliament and in council chambers the majority of Labour’s representatives vote for austerity cuts at home and bombings abroad. We also note that affiliated trade unions do not, at this time, have an effective role in the development of Labour Party program and tactics.
RMT will maintain our independent political strategy at this time as we continue to seek to play our part in constructing a political movement of the working class. Central to this strategy should be seeking to assist Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and those who back their political program to bring down the Tory/DUP coalition and win the next General Election on a socialist program.
The AGM commits to:
Approach Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and others as long-standing allies to offer whatever assistance RMT can provide in bringing down the Tory/DUP coalition.
Urge Corbyn to call a national Labour movement demonstration against the Tory/DUP coalition, against austerity and in support of Corbyn’s programme.
Oppose any attempts by the Labour right or pro-business voices outside of the Labour movement to ditch key Labour manifesto commitments in the name of unity with those whose austerity politics are now so discredited. We call on Labour authorities to refuse to make cuts and to oppose DOO where they have such powers.
Oppose any attempts to draw Labour into an alliance with pro-business “remain forces” in the name of a so-called “soft Brexit”. RMT will maintain our position for a Brexit based on protecting workers irrespective of race or nationality by rejecting EU austerity and privatisation.
Maintain our participation in the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (TUSC), noting that TUSC did not stand in opposition to Labour in the General Election and campaigned for a Labour vote. TUSC remains a coalition of political allies to our union in which RMT has a veto over all policy and organisation decisions.
Urge Labour to re-admit socialists who have been expelled on political grounds and open up membership to all who agree with the party program. RMT will also argue for Labour to adopt internal structures that restore the role of trade unions in the governance of the party. Should this happen then RMT should convene a special conference to consider our formal relationship with the Labour Party.