The Annual General Meeting (National Conference) of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Union (RMT) opened on 23 June in Brighton.
The first motions to be debated came from the different grades conferences and it is clear that casualisation will be a theme of the AGM.
The use of agencies is growing, including Trainpeople, who provide low-paid agency staff across national rail and London Underground. But RMT is determined to resist this and maintain well-paid permanent jobs.
Speakers from sister transport unions in the USA and New Zealand offered support to transport workers in Britain.
The same issues facing us on Northern Rail or the Bakerloo Line on the tube are being fought worldwide.
Steve Cotton from the International Transport Workers Federation spoke about the international scope of trade unionism and the federation’s presence in Taksim Square during the recent Turkish protests.
The agenda for the week includes important resolutions covering job security, working hours, grading and the inclusion of flat rate elements in pay claims to boost pay increases for the lowest paid.
There are also many political items on the table, which reflect the radical character of the RMT.
Resolutions call for the continuation of the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) project. Others endorse the position taken by general secretary Bob Crow, to call for a 24-hour general strike.
TUSC is holding a fringe meeting on 25 June, where Southampton City councillors, Keith Morrell and Don Thomas will speak.
On 26 June there is a fringe meeting called by the National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) to discuss making generalised strike action a reality.
There are resolutions on the agenda on the bedroom tax and many other political issues. Of particular interest will be a resolution re-stating the union’s socialist clause and calling for a campaign throughout the branches to explain this part of RMT’s rules to members.