​Class war: Transport workers plan militant alliance, general strike against anti-union laws

Reuters / Suzanne Plunkett
Determined to ‘smash’ Tory plans to strengthen Britain’s harsh anti-trade union laws, workers from the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will create a militant alliance if the Trade Union Congress (TUC) fails to call a general strike.

READ MORE: Unions ‘puzzled’ as Network Rail seeks legal ban on national strike

An alliance of this sort may be willing to break the law and defy anti-union laws. Delegates at the union’s annual conference held in Newcastle on Wednesday said it would not affiliate with any political party, including Labour.

The principles of the emergency motion on the issue include the goal of working “for the supersession of the capitalist system by a socialist order of society.

Speaking from the platform, RMT’s Senior Assistant General-Secretary Steve Hedley said: “We should be calling on the TUC to organize a general strike to fight back against these laws. The TUC will, I believe, be reluctant to smash these laws,” the Morning Star reports.

He cited other unions that could join such a coalition.

So we will have a coalition of the willing, like the FBU (firefighters), CWU (communications workers), parts of the PCS (civil servants) and parts of the GMB.

We should organize, if necessary, outside the structure of the TUC to fight these laws. We should not go at the pace of the slowest. We have to organize this fightback.

Hedley also made reference to the struggles and sacrifices of generations of workers, which many feel are now under attack by anti-union laws.

We must stand on the shoulders of our forefathers and mothers and break these unjust laws.

READ MORE: Trade union boss defies Tory anti-strike plans

The fight, however, will not go unchallenged, with the new Tory government standing firm in its efforts to diminish the power of organized workers, even citing the neoliberal successes of Britain’s past as a model for other nations.

Speaking at a conference in London, Conservative MP and serving Under-Secretary for Transport Robert Goodwill told his French counterpart France needed its own Margaret Thatcher to “sort out” the “problem” of militant trade unionism.

Speaking to the Times newspaper on the sidelines of the conference, Goodwill added to his comments.

One of the reasons why they have so many strikes in France is that the government tends to cave in to political pressure,” he said.

That’s what happens when you have a left-wing government that may be very close to the trades unions.

That gives the trades unions a sort of feeling that, ‘well, we might be able to get what we want through industrial action.’”

Following the general election last month, which saw the Conservatives win a small majority, new Tory Business Secretary Sajid Javid said the government will introduce new laws to stop public sector strike action going ahead.

Javid’s announcement followed Prime Minister David Cameron’s claim that the Tories are “the real party for working people” in what some felt was an effort to shrug off the Conservatives’ ‘party of the rich’ image.

On Wednesday it was reported that Labour leadership candidate and veteran socialist MP Jeremy Corbyn had secured the support of the RMT in his bid to lead the Labour Party.