MARK HARDING, a driver on London Underground and a member of the RMT union, won an important legal victory over union representation last week. The decision in favour of the RMT at his employment appeals tribunal has implications for members of every union. Mark explained to Socialist Worker:
'The decision means that you have the right to union representation at any hearing with management that could lead to a warning that might be used against you in the future. Before this case employers maintained that you only had that right at meetings which were to decide then and there on your employment.
It has taken two years to push this case. It started when I returned to work after a period on sick leave and was summoned to a return to work interview by London Underground. I asked for union representation, but this was refused. So I refused to cooperate with the hearing. That led to a warning issued against me.
My branch, with the support of the whole union, decided to take the case to an employment tribunal. We lost, but last week that decision and a linked case were overturned on appeal. There are important lessons here. I could not have won this case without my union, which backed me all the way. The cost of going to court is prohibitive for ordinary people. The law is stacked against workers, but on the rare occasions where we get a legal victory we should use it.
My advice to other workers is to make sure you are in a union, tell management you want union representation at meetings like the one I was called to, and be prepared to stick up for your rights.'