RMT AGM pledges to fight attacks

Submitted by Matthew on 3 July, 2015 - 5:05 Author: Janine Booth, delegate from Central Line East branch

The Annual General Meeting of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union voted to back Jeremy Corbyn’s bid for Labour leader, fight the Tories’ attacks on trade union rights, and step up its work on equalities.

As well as committing to militant industrial struggles, delegates also voted unanimously for several emergency resolutions from branches opposing the tightening of anti-union laws promised in the Queen’s Speech. These included support for a national demonstration and rank-and-file conference this year.

Delegates voted unanimously for the union to defend migrant workers from increasing hostility and government attacks. The resolution — submitted by Central Line East branch — stressed the common interests of British-born and migrant workers and committed the union to circulating facts in the face of disinformation about migration, and to aim the union’s fire at employers not workers of other nationalities.

However, the AGM also reaffirmed RMT’s intention to campaign for the UK to leave the European Union. Around one-fifth of delegates opposed this, following speeches which highlighted that the referendum will see a ‘frenzy of anti-migrant prejudice’ and that a UK exit would strengthen the right wing and lead to more attacks on workers.

The AGM adopted the Executive’s report on the General Election, meaning motions in support of TUSC, and proposing re-affiliating to the Labour Party, were not discussed. The Executive report assessed the impact of RMT’s approach to the General Election, which had been to back candidates who were members of its Parliamentary group (over 20 Labour MPs plus the Greens’ Caroline Lucas) and consider requests from branches to back other candidates. While praising its candidates and the stance they took, the report promised to review the situation with TUSC, highlighting its low vote and instances where it had stood or supported candidates against RMT-backed candidates. It also affirmed that RMT would not seek reaffiliation to Labour.

The AGM passed several broadly-progressive changes to the union’s structure, including making the whole National Executive full-time, creating a Cleaners’ Industrial Organising Conference, and allowing branches to submit resolutions directly to the National Executive. It also voted by a large majority to create a Disabled Members’ Committee and Conference, overturning the Executive’s decision not to do so. The rule change needed to achieve this will be submitted next year.

On international issues, the AGM supported the ‘anti-fascist resistance’ in Ukraine, rejecting the arguments of delegates who said the motion failed to oppose Russian aggression and falsely painting the Kiev government as “fascist”.

A fundraiser fringe event for Rainbow International LGBT Activist Solidarity Fund, hosted by National President Peter Pinkney, and including a speech from Newcastle Rainbow supporter Ed Whitby and performances from delegates, raised £100.