RMT Picket at Euston. Photo: Paul Mattsson
RMT Picket at Euston. Photo: Paul Mattsson

Socialist Party members in the RMT

RMT transport union’s annual conference followed a year of political and industrial turmoil. It’s more and more important that RMT members stand firm to defend our jobs, conditions and the right to withdraw our labour.

It was clear that there is still a strong appetite for the fight amongst our Train Operating Company (TOC) members. A motion to draw up proposals for a national industrial council for TOCs was carried, to coordinate across the passenger rail sector, although unfortunately this will potentially not take effect until after next year’s AGM.

Delegates working for Network Rail raised the need for a review into their dispute following the acceptance of their deal, with many issues still remaining, such as the failure to halt ‘Modernisation of Maintenance’ and further cuts, as well as what was in effect a real-terms pay cut. 

Our cleaning grades members’ motion to campaign to bring outsourced cleaners back in-house, and to demand a minimum wage of £15 an hour, decent sick pay, travel facilities, and better pensions, was carried unanimously.

Following the announcement by Keir Starmer that Jeremy Corbyn will not stand as a Labour candidate in the next general election, conference agreed unanimously on the need to give Jeremy Corbyn our full support if he stands as an independent in the next general election.

However, the motion proposing a review, through the branch and regional structures, of the RMT’s political strategy, and to place this back in front of a special AGM later this year in time for a general election, was unfortunately defeated, after it was argued that this was simply an attempt by the Socialist Party to launch a ‘TUSC Mark 2’. The Socialist Party has long-argued for the need for a new workers’ party, and has stood alongside firstly the late RMT general secretary Bob Crow, and subsequently the RMT itself, in the launch of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition.

But this motion wasn’t asking for that. It would have placed the important discussion on political strategy in the hands of the membership, as we did in 2018 in the Labour re-affiliation debate.

General Secretary Mick Lynch stated: “RMT will remain unaffiliated to any political party, but we will be fully engaged and involved in politics.” He went on to state: “It is fully clear that it is in our class interests and the direct interests of our members to get rid of this Tory government and replace it with a Labour government.”

The question still remains, though, that while Keir Starmer continues to distance himself from working-class struggles and from the working class in general, then in reality what political voice will the disenfranchised trade union movement have?

RMT passes resolution to defy and defeat new anti-union law

Tuesday lunchtime saw a well-attended fringe meeting, sponsored by London Underground (LU) engineering branch, entitled ‘Fighting the minimum service level legislation’. The speakers were Rob Williams, chair of the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN), and Noreen Hayes, RMT London Transport region president. The meeting highlighted the urgent need for a united trade union resistance to these further restrictions on workers’ rights.

An emergency resolution on the minimum service legislation, based on the NSSN model motion, was unanimously supported by conference.

This resolution laid out a clear strategy for fighting this legislation.  Delegates fully endorsed the calls to organise a national demonstration, build coordinated strike action with other unions if work notices are enforced, and demand that Labour and non-Tory authorities do not use the law against their workers.


Fire Brigades Union (FBU) general secretary Matt Wrack has written to other trade unions to say there is “no choice” but to launch a mass campaign of non-compliance against the minimum service levels law “to make it unworkable”. “This campaign cannot be won by any union acting alone. We must act together to build a movement to defy and defeat this law.” The FBU calls for a conference of unions in the autumn to discuss putting a campaign into action. The union also backs a national demonstration in October against the new laws, as initiated by the RMT following this resolution at the AGM.

  • See NSSN model motion at socialistparty.org.uk