At a special conference yesterday, the RMT union agreed to encourage its members to get active in the Labour Party in order to support Corbyn and fight for socialist policies.
After a six-week consultation throughout the RMT over the question of the union’s affiliation to the Labour Party, a special delegate conference was convened in Doncaster yesterday (30th May) to decide the issue.
The meeting did not agree to affiliate to Labour at this time, which many on the left – including Socialist Appeal – have argued for. Nevertheless it agreed to build stronger ties to the party, with branches and regions encouraged to use political levy funds to back Labour. This is a most welcome step forward.
The meeting also agreed that the question of affiliation was not off the agenda completely, and that the union would return to it when there was greater support. The RMT’s reaffiliation to Labour, therefore, isn’t so much a question of if, but when.
The position finally agreed was recommended to the conference by the Executive Committee, following the consultation. The statement issued by the union, which we print below, shows clearly the very positive thinking behind the latest move.
The decision not to affiliate at this time was clearly influenced by the malicious actions of the Blairites in the party, who have attempted to undermine Corbyn at every turn.
These saboteurs will, however, be disappointed at the RMT’s decision to build closer links with Labour. In particular, they will be worried by the call for the union’s 80,000 members to join the Labour Party to support Corbyn and enhance the union’s policies.
These closer links between the RMT and the Labour Party are a significant step forward compared to the past. The proposals made should be actively taken up by all union activists and branches.
As part of this development, the left in local Labour parties should immediately approach RMT branches to see how they can help to further transform the Labour Party and encourage their members to join the party. Links and cooperation between the union and the party should be systematically built at all levels.
These strengthened ties will also help to safeguard the gains already made and ensure new advances. This should be linked to the fight for socialist policies, including the restoration of Clause 4, Labour’s original commitment to socialism that was removed by Tony Blair.
The main thing now is to unite around this important decision and carry it into practice. As Brendan Kelly, an RMT official in Bristol, explained:
“We had a vocal and passionate internal consultation and debate, but RMT must now unite around our decision, get rid of the Tories as soon as we can, and get a socialist Labour government that stands up for our class like the Tories stand up for theirs.”
The RMT’s decision can only be seen as another step forward for the union and the process of transforming the Labour Party into a genuine fighting organisation.
RMT official statement
RMT Special General Meeting agrees to align union towards Labour and encourage its members to be active in the party whilst remaining unaffiliated.
Following a consultation with union branches and regional councils, a Special General Meeting (SGM) of the RMT has today [Wednesday 30th May] agreed to a recommendation from the union’s National Executive committee to align the RMT towards the Labour Party and encourage its 80,000 plus members to be active in the Labour Party, whilst remaining unaffiliated.
The SGM also adopted a recommendation from the NEC that will allow the unions 200 plus branches and regional councils to use their political funds to back Labour at elections, whilst Labour continues to support key RMT policies on transport and trade union rights.
RMT branches are also to be encouraged to develop relations with local Labour parties. The Special General Meeting also agreed that the union should consider what other steps it can take to support, defend, and develop the socialist advances that have been made within the Labour Party.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:
“Our consultation has shown that the views of our branches and regions are finely balanced and the SGM has decided that whilst we do not support affiliation at this current time, there is the potential for the union to affiliate to the Labour Party at a future date if there is clearer support for this.
“Many of our members have also reacted angrily to constant attempts by a hard core of Labour MPs to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the radical progressive changes he has made to Labour.
“In contrast there is a clear desire amongst RMT members to support Jeremy Corbyn and the left leadership of the Labour Party and that is why we are now be putting in place other concrete steps to throw the weight of the RMT behind supporting the socialist advances that have been made in the Labour Party. This will include aligning ourselves towards Labour, encouraging members to be active in Labour and allowing our branches and regions to fund Labour candidates.”