Unions and Politics

Submitted by Tubeworker on 16 August, 2006 - 8:50

John McDonnell has announced that he will stand against Gordon Brown to replace Tony Blair as Labour Party leader.

This is very good news for railworkers, trade unionists, socialists and everyone else who is sick of Blair and Brown’s attacks on workers. McDonnell has an excellent record of fighting for our rights. He convenes RMT’s Parliamentary group and is prominent in the campaign for a Trade Union Freedom Bill.

RMT, although outside the Labour Party, will be supporting John in his leadership bid. ASLEF and TSSA members should put pressure on your union to do so too. After all, why would you want to back Gordon Brown - the financial drive behind mass privatisation of public services?!

More details from John's website, or contact Off The Rails.

In May’s local council elections, RMT backed a non-Labour socialist candidate for the first time in England since it changed its rules in 2002 to allow this.

Janine Booth, a member of the union’s Finsbury Park branch, stood as a ‘Socialist Unity’ candidate in Hackney Central ward and polled a respectable 260 votes (11%). Janine’s candidature, which was part of the Socialist Green Unity Coalition meant that voters in this working-class area could vote for someone who opposed cuts and privatisation, against an array of mainstream candidates who support them!

Off The Rails has suggested before that the rail unions stand our own candidates in elections, to help put independent working-class representation back on the political agenda.

We are pleased to see that Finsbury Park branch has raised this idea within the RMT, proposing that the union set up a panel of candidates - union members who would get education and training from the union, which would try to get them selected as Labour (or, in Scotland, SSP) candidates and failing that, consider standing them anyway, alongside other trade unionists and socialists where possible.

We urge RMT branches and members - and the union’s Executive - to back this proposal and put it into action.

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