INTERFERENCE BY the Tory press in the election for general secretary of the RMT rail union began even before the ballot papers went out this week. There was a torrent of stories at the end of last week directed against left wing candidate Bob Crow, who is currently an assistant general secretary.
New Labour and its supporters at the top of the unions are desperate to stop Crow being elected. He opposes privatisation of the rail and tube, and stands for the trade union principles New Labour attacks. The right wing press and pro-government union leaders are mounting a 'red scare' campaign to try to stop Bob Crow.
They are still smarting from the election of socialist Mark Serwotka as general secretary of the civil servants' PCS union. Among the smears being thrown at Bob Crow is the ludicrous claim that he is indirectly responsible for the dispute on South West Trains (SWT). Several papers reported last week that the strikes on SWT have happened only because Phil Bialyk, the senior RMT official for that area, has called them to appear militant as he stands against Bob Crow for general secretary. But the pay dispute on SWT has been rumbling since last April, four months before the death of the previous RMT leader, Jimmy Knapp.
An absolute majority of RMT members voted for strikes. It was this same anger that has led to left wing candidates winning elections. Electing left wing union leaders does not guarentee successful union action. But there is no doubt that a victory for Bob Crow would boost the confidence of rail and tube workers to stand up to management, and to the government over renationalisation.
It would also be a slap in the face for New Labour. Some figures on the right of the RMT are prepared to wind up the union and merge with the TGWU to prevent rail workers taking on the government. RMT activists need to get Bob Crow's message into every workplace. Socialist Worker urges every RMT member to stick two fingers up to the anti-union press and vote for Bob Crow.