Socialist Worker


by Kevin Ovenden
Issue No. 1858

THE RMT rail union delegates at their conference on Monday signalled an uncompromising struggle against the British National Party (BNP) and other Nazis.

They unanimously voted for a motion saying it is 'a democratic right to seek to defend victims of racism and exclude and expel racists from the union'. RMT general secretary Bob Crow told the conference the union had expelled Patrick Harrington, a longstanding member of various fascist groups, the previous Friday.

There was loud applause when he said the union will face down Nazis who are attempting to use employment tribunals to overturn their expulsion from the unions and get compensation. Bob Crow said that if Harrington or any other Nazis won at a tribunal then 'this union will not pay them a penny.

'If they want to send the bailiffs in then we will organise the biggest demo we have had as a union outside our headquarters. We will send a clear message that we will have no truck with racists and fascists.'

The RMT is due to investigate BNP member Jay Lee, who conned his way into the union in Paddington, west London. An employment tribunal has scandalously awarded Lee thousands of pounds after the Aslef train drivers' union expelled him.

Aslef is appealing against that decision and, like the RMT, is calling on the government to make it clear that unions have the right to expel Nazis. That demand is also coming from other unions. Mick Skiggs from Portsmouth said there is a real danger of the BNP gaining dangerous ground unless the trade union movement throws itself fully into the fight now.

Glenn Burrows from Bristol described how the BNP tried to mask their fascist politics behind feigned concern over issues such as privatisation. 'They are not champions of the working class,' she said. 'We have a job to do in educating our members and other workers about what the BNP really stand for.'

Many delegates also spoke about the social conditions that allow the BNP to gain a foothold. They called for trade unions to stand up to the government's attacks on working people as well confronting the far right.

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Article information

Sat 5 Jul 2003, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1858
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