Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/725/14809
RMT conference: Vote for one-day general strike
Nick Chaffey, the Socialist and Jared Wood, RMT Neasden, branch delegate, personal capacity
"Coordinated action is the way forward, the mood is out there. The only way the government is going to listen is if we shut down the country", said general secretary Bob Crow in reply to the debate on the pensions battle.
The conference agenda was dominated by the impact of employers' attacks on the union membership. Signal workers debated attacks on safety regulations: "Anything that gets in the way of business is eroded. For the bosses, safety procedures and workers' rights get in the way."
Track workers, drivers and signallers all contributed to the debate. For the RMT this re-affirmed their central commitment to opposing the McNulty report and fighting for the renationalisation of the rail network. Here was evidence of how workers in industry are far better placed to tackle the real issues at work than the employers.
A delegate from the RMT young members moved a resolution on pensions. RMT members in the Royal Fleet Auxiliary had been involved in the recent joint action on 10 May with PCS, POA and others.
Bob Crow explained that RMT must commit itself not only to the idea of a general strike but to build for one: "This has got to be built from the grass roots. Let's not just pass it but go back and build for a one- day general strike. There is nothing more contagious than courage."
He went on to lambast Labour for their failure to support picket lines and question what they will reverse when they next get in.
The conference voted to support the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) campaign against cuts, taking a clear position against ALL austerity cuts and rejecting the argument that some cuts are inevitable.
A separate resolution was passed unanimously, supporting the further development of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). RMT will continue to support candidates who support the aims of the union and, as part of this strategy, will encourage branches and regions of the union to send delegates to the TUSC national conference in September.
Throughout the conference international guest speakers contributed to the debates. Particularly effective were the contributions from New York transport workers' leader and Esenbek from Kazakhstan whose speech was interrupted three times by applause. (See page 9 for an interview with Esenbek).
Esenbek received a standing ovation at the end and stated his gratitude for the work done by Bob Crow and RMT to defend him from state repression. His report of the atrocities taking place shocked many but all were inspired by his reports of the work of the union, especially the recent mine occupations which had won 100% pay rises for the workers.
As in any union there were debates about tactics and appeals against decisions from some areas. The conference showed anyone who cares to see, a democratic process at work and a union led by socialists. In this it represents the future direction of trade unions in Britain.
Its militancy and socialist leadership have an effect way beyond the boundaries of its activities. Increasingly it is the stand of RMT and others such as the PCS that is gaining the support of members generally and setting the agenda across the trade unions.
- No to austerity
- We demand a general strike
NSSN-organised lobby of the TUC: Sunday 9 September 1pm
Assemble 1pm at the Level park, Union Road, Brighton BN2 for march at 1.30pm to Brighton (conference) Centre and rally
Speakers include PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka and Bob Crow
See www.shopstewards.net for updates and campaign material
In The Socialist 4 July 2012:
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party LGBT
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party appeal
Youth fight for jobs
Socialist Party review