Socialist Worker

Plot to smear left union leaders

Issue No. 1783

THE BIGGEST smear campaign against left wing union leaders for over a decade. That is the only conclusion following a flood of scare stories in the right wing press aimed at union leaders whose members are rightly demanding action. Rupert Murdoch's anti-union Sun ran two pages on Monday claiming that a 'new breed' of union leaders are 'plotting a new Winter of Discontent' against the New Labour government.

It named Bob Crow of the rail workers' RMT union; Mick Rix of the train drivers' ASLEF union; Billy Hayes, leader of the postal union; Andy Gilchrist of the Fire Brigades Union; public sector union leader Dave Prentis; and Mark Serwotka, leader of the civil servants' union. It followed pieces in the Daily Mail, London's Evening Standard, Sunday Business and several other millionaire-owned papers which targeted Bob Crow of the RMT in particular.

The media barons and the bosses are frightened that groups of workers are beginning to organise against low pay, long hours and the destruction of public services. The New Labour government is worried too. So attacks from those quarters may be expected.

But the revelation that an official inside the Trades Union Congress has been spinning witch-hunting stories against trade union leaders is shocking. Bob Crow, who is standing for election as general secretary of the RMT union, has been the main target. He said: 'Not one official from the TUC has been down to the picket line to support rail workers fighting low pay and attacks on their right to organise on South West Trains.

'But an official there can find the time to write briefing documents interfering in the RMT's election and trying to create a red-scare against me.'

Be in no doubt. The campaign against these union leaders is about attacking the members who elected them.

It is about turning the trade unions into transmission belts for New Labour's big business policies rather than organisations that stand up for working people. Trade union activists should be alarmed. Bob Crow was assaulted by two men at his home in the early hours of New Year's Day. The police are treating it as a premeditated attack rather than as a burglary that went wrong.

No one should believe the Sun's talk of 'bully boy' trade union leaders. It's time to stand with all those who are fighting back.

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Sat 19 Jan 2002, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1783
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