RMT leader slams anti-union laws

Alex Gordon, president of the RMT transport union, explained to delegates at the recent National Shop Stewards Committee how the anti-union laws were being used to frustrate industrial action by workers.

“A new judgement in the High Court in London against my union [the RMT] has raised a new obstacle to workers lawfully engaging in collective industrial action. The case of Serco/Docklands Light Railway v RMT has highlighted yet again the inadequacy of the current strike laws and their ability to be ‘interpreted’ by judges in ways that were inconceivable a few years ago.

This week a judge found that the ‘language’ used by my union in notifying the employer of strike action was unlawful. In particular he drew attention to the RMT’s use of the word “audit” to describe the method by which it had arrived at a true and reliable record of its members on DLR who we called on to take industrial action after a 80% ‘Yes’ vote.

The judge said that “audit” implied an outside third party overseeing the membership records. Effectively this judgement puts us on the road to some sort of corporate state overseeing of union membership systems.

Even more worryingly the judge agreed to the employers’ arguments that the union should allow the employer to have oversight of every single detail of correspondence and email between union representatives and officers that led up to the strike ballot.

The reason these judgements are appearing now is of course entirely connected with the massive fight that looms over public sector cuts.”