Strange goings on within the rail union RMT. The union leadership decided to close down the special annual conference on the grounds that they did not like the way delegates were voting.
To the shock and bemusement of delegates, the Assistant General Secretary, the President and a number of the National Executive members closed the recent RMT Conference and walked out. The move was well-orchestrated, and followed an overwhelming vote to remove the President from the chair of the conference. This grossly unconstitutional act is the latest move in a vindictive campaign against the perceived ‘left' within the union. So far, it has included ballot rigging in order to get a preferred candidate on the national executive, and the suspension of union activists from holding office within the union.
Meanwhile, the RMT is in the middle of a dispute against privatisation of the London Underground. The recent planned strike was called off by RMT bosses at the last minute due to huge pressure from the government. Rather than concentrating on fighting management and the government, activists are now having to spend time and energy defending the union from the leadership.
Vernon Hince, now effectively in charge due to Jimmy Knapp being ill, is a long-standing member of New Labour's national executive and there is little doubt that the RMT witch-hunt is being orchestrated by the Labour leadership. New Labour is dead against tube and rail workers striking on issues of safety because it draws attention to their bankrupt transport policies. Nor are they pleased with the growing campaign to stop paying the political levy to New Labour – a campaign which Catalyst fully supports.
Despite the government's record of hostility towards workers, all the stops are being pulled out to ensure that RMT funds are handed over to Labour - including an instruction for all branches to give their funds to local Labour constituencies. The union leadership clearly sees getting Labour re-elected as far more important than lax safety and appalling pay and conditions endured by their own members.