By Angela Paton
The Executive of the railworkers' union RMT met on 8 December 2003, and voted in favour of RMT Scottish region affiliating to the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). Done and dusted - they told the SSP earlier tonight.
The SSP structures however aren't really ready for a trade union affiliation. No-one is quite sure how it will work, certainly not on a
block vote like it used to be in the Labour Party. They will have representation on the national committee and on regional committees, but I'm sure there will be much discussion inside the SSP over this.
Just to clarify the details. The vote to affiliate to the SSP was taken at a meeting of the RMT's Scottish Regional Council, where there is one vote per branch. I think that this decision needs to be endorsed by the union's national (UK-wide) Council of Executives.
Last week, the Council of Executives agreed to allow the five branches who have asked to affiliate locally to the SSP to do so.
In my view, the union should not affiliate to the SSP without a referendum of all its members in Scotland. This is too big a decision to be taken by voting at branch meetings only. Without the direct involvement of the members, the union will not carry their genuine support behind this decision and it will not have the impact at a rank-and-file level that it should have.
Moreover, it is important that any delegates that the RMT is entitled to on SSP bodies should be elected by - and accountable to - the members rather than appointed by head office, and are required to stick by union policy. We do not want a repeat of the situation we have had on the Labour Party NEC, with union nominees voting against RMT policy.
(RMT, London Underground)
e-mail: janine.booth at btopenworld.com