Activists in the RMT rail workers’ union are mobilising for the Organising for Fighting Unions conference set for London on 11 November.
The conference has been initiated by Respect, but involves a broad layer of trade unionists, including RMT general secretary Bob Crow.
A number of RMT branches, including Sheffield and District, Piccadilly and District West, Jubilee South and East London, Stratford Number One, and Bakerloo, have voted to back the conference. Other branches are discussing it in the next few weeks.
Steve West, an RMT drivers’ rep at Manchester Piccadilly station, told Socialist Worker, “I have put my name onto the list of those supporting the conference.
“I also raised support in my Manchester South RMT branch. There was no objection to it. In the past, people within the branch argued for support for Labour, but you don’t really get that any more as people are so fed up with them.
“In the RMT we have issues over pensions. Privatisation is also a big issue. We have no control over who we work for as franchises can be sold off.”
“We need to decide who is going to the conference now. The branch also supported the Manchester anti-war demonstration on 23 September. I am now going to raise support for the conference at the next RMT regional council.”
Craig Johnston, the chair of the RMT staff side in Northern Rail conductors’ company council, said, “There is a big debate about when Tony Blair should go and Gordon Brown replace him.
“But this represents no change. The last thing we need is more of the same policies. People aren’t brassed off with Blair’s personality, they’re brassed off with his policies.
“These include Iraq and privatisation. On the railways New Labour have gone further than the Tories. Once we all worked for British Rail and were part of the Railway Pension Scheme. Now there is a major crisis because of it being fragmented and split up.
“This is an act of vandalism which the Tories did, but New Labour have done nothing to stop it.
“The Tories are enjoying a renaissance and we don’t want them back. But this Labour government has had a huge majority, and they’ve done nothing with it.
“The trade union leaders complain about Labour’s policies, but then they go and wine and dine Blair.
“We need to get our act together and the Organising for Fighting Unions conference is a place that will give people a chance to do that. ”
Organising for Fighting Unions conference, Saturday 11 November, Shoreditch Town Hall, London. Registration fee £10 per delegate. Organising for Fighting Unions, 9 Club Row, London E1 6JX. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 020 7613 5624.