Members of the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport Union) have been voting in recent weeks on whether the union should re-affiliate to the Labour Party. In a tight result, the union has decided not to re-affiliated – but instead to ‘align’ itself with the party.
A statement by RMT General Secretary Mick Cash explains:
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.
The RMT’s decision not to move to full re-affiliation yet is driven by its displeasure with and suspicion of the right-wing ‘hard core’ remnant of MPs determined to damage the party regardless of the clear need for a Labour government – and its decision to ‘align’ is driven by a determination to ensure that those MPs are unsuccessful.
The union’s press office clarified that ‘alignment’ includes:
- encouraging its more than 80,000 members to be active in the Labour Party
- allowing all the union’s over two hundred branches and regional councils to use their political funds to back Labour at elections
- encouraging RMT Branches to work with Labour party groups at a local level
- and, crucially, any other steps the union can identify to support Corbyn’s leadership and the direction of the party set by him and supported by the vast majority of Labour members
The RMT has also made clear that this support will continue as long as Labour continues to be a genuine socialist party with strong, positive policies on transport and union rights.
The RMT’s reasons for not fully re-affiliating echo those of the then-NUT (now NEA, the National Education Union) at its conference last year and similarly holds the promise of re-affiliation when the ‘Blairite’ die-hards are no longer a danger to Labour’s status as a genuine alternative to right-wing social and economic policies.
Its decision to ‘align’ is similar to the recent decision by the PCS union to get behind Jeremy Corbyn and his policies to support him against back-bench attempts to undermine the party and its leader.
The support will vastly welcome to most Labour members – and anything but to the right-wing ‘die-hards’.
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