An historic moment: construction companies find themselves in the dock at the Royal Courts of Justice, charged with unlawful conspiracy to blacklist workers. 4,213 workers are known to be on an illegal blacklist which has cost them their careers, often their families and tragically in some cases, their lives. The next trial date is December 17.
Today victimised RMT rep Mark Harding was found not guilty of what was a serious (if absurd) charge under the Industrial Relations Act. He has endured 3 months of uncertainty not least because a guilty verdict could have resulted in 6 months jail and/or serious implications for his career.
The charge arose from the highly successful RMT/TSSA dispute of London Underground in February. Mark was accused of intimidation after verbally appealing to a scab not to cross his picket line at Hammersmith. He was arrested after a spurious complaint was made and then held for an astonishing 13 hours before being given bail conditions that effectively banned him from Trade Union activity. The RMTs legal team got the conditions overturned but the charges remained. Todays verdict was clearly a massive relief for all involved.
Steve Hedley RMT assistant General Secretary said outside the court: “This is an important victory not just for us but for all trade unionists. We believe that the ongoing threat of industrial action by our staff caused the state to bring this case. We have successfully defended our right to peacefully picket.”
Mark was vindicated but sadly so were the authorities. The magistrate went out of her way to exonerate the cops in what was an outrageous, vindictive and utterly blatant case of political policing.
It is with great sadness that we have learned of the sudden death of RMT General Secretary Bob Crow at the age of just 52. He was a trade union leader like no other constantly fighting and winning for his members.
Bob came from a humble background leaving school at 16 to work on the railways. He progressed through the forerunners of the RMT becoming a national officer and then General Secretary of the RMT in 2002. For ten years he led the union never giving an inch to the bosses. From the tunnels of the London Underground to the oil rigs of the North Sea, workers represented by Bob had enormous respect for his methods as they saw their pay and conditions improve under his leadership.
Aside from his Trade Union work Bob was passionate about international issues and local social justice. He supoorted the Tomlinson family after Ian (a fellow supporter of his beloved Millwall) was killed by the Police at the G20 protests in London. He was also an outspoken supporter of the Palestinian cause and a vociferous critic of the wars in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
RMT organiser Mac McKenna who spoke at our last REEL NEWS monthly event said: “They hated him; the chancers and the spivs, the privatisers and the bullies, the toffs and the Tories, they all despised him, cos he wouldn’t be ‘reasonable’, he wouldn’t be ‘modern’, he wouldn’t accept that ‘the market’ was best. Instead, he led a trade union that tried, very successfully at times, to defend its members interests, save jobs, push up pay and improve conditions. At a time of stagnating or declining trade union membership, the RMT grew; and it grew because workers could see the RMT was prepared to fight. Proper fight. Not just words and resolutions, but strike action, and Bob would go on TV and defend his members for taking strike action and lay the blame firmly on the bosses. When a Circle line train driver was sacked for playing squash while off sick, Bob turned up at his press conference and presented the driver with a new squash racquet. It was that sort of ‘fuck you’ that made it worth being in the RMT. So long Bob, it was a privilege to be a part of the fight with you.”
Bob leaves behind a proud legacy. Although his life was cut painfully short, his last great battle to save jobs and ticket offices on London Underground saw massive public support and tory mayor Boris Johnson humiliated. His example will be the toughest of acts to follow. Our thoughts are with his family and comrades.
The strike by RMT and TSSA station staff on London underground is looking solid as it goes into its second day. The only line working appears to be the Northern Line, which is running a very limited service relying on ASLEF drivers and members who are not part of the dispute.
Last night a strike rally was held outside Euston station just before the dispute began. RMT Deputy General Secretary Steve Hedley told the assembled crowd that Transport For London had refused to negotiate and made the strike inevitable. He also commented on the hypocrisy of the media who had hailed station staff as heroes when they had rescued people trapped in tunnels during the 7/7 bombings but were now saying they were surplus to requirements.
This morning commuters were walking across central London bridges in their droves to get to work. Many more were waiting for a very long time for overcrowded buses. There were also chaotic scenes at many major stations.
The mainstream media have steadfastly refused to report on the real issues surrounding the dispute. Instead papers like the Mail and Sun have run irrelevant and childish stories about the holiday and living arrangements of RMT leader Bob Crow. Also complaining about his “fat cat salary”. Rank hypocrisy coming from news outlets whose owners earn billions while avoiding their taxes.
The strike centres around a plan by London Mayor Boris Johnson to close London Underground ticket offices losing nearly 1,000 jobs. This is against his own election pledge when he stood for mayor. Many campaigners fear that this will make public transport less accessible to the elderly, disabled and also foreign visitors on whom the London economy is so reliant. This morning Boris evaded many of the key questions being put to him by the media at London Bridge station while talking up the idea of a fully automated underground system.
The strike is due to run until 9.30 pm on Thursday with more action planned for next week.
The title of this year’s Tory conference is ‘For Hard Working People’ which seems like an attempt at irony coming from such avid fans of both tax evasion and inherited wealth. Meanwhile outside the Manchester GMEX Centre over 55,000 hard working people demonstrated their disgust at the privatisation of the NHS. The protest called by the TUC was most heavily supported by members of UNISON which was unsurprising given their status as the biggest union in NHS. There were also large turnouts from the PCS, UNITE and GMB.
REEL NEWS is pleased to announce that they will show our documentary Into The Fire at 8pm on Friday July 19th. We are pleased for this opportunity to support the workers at the station and their struggle to save their jobs and this important national institution. We are also pleased at this opportunity to shine a light of the plight of refugees and migrants in Greece and to infuriate the Greek government, Golden Dawn and the Greek Police.
To mark the British mainstream media finally exposing the illegal practice of blacklisting on primetime TV (Panorama, 10/06/13), We present the first in a new series of regional reports from around the UK on blacklisting.
Number 1: South East
Crossrail are blacklisting trade unionists – and here’s the proof. Testimonies from people with direct experience of blacklisting by Crossrail at Westbourne Park in London, and Chatham docks in Kent. Plus: the extent of blacklisting from Chatham to Basingstoke and Southampton – and the growing resistance.
A dispute between members of the UNITE Trade Union and haulage giant Eddie Stobart has now become and indefinite strike to protect jobs, pay and conditions. The row which began in September when Eddie Stobart took over the running of the main northern supply depot for Tesco supermarkets.
There has been 5 days of strike action already. Now 183 drivers have started continuous action since Thursday December 6th.
On Saturday (Dec 8th) several hundred drivers and their supporters gathered at the main entrance to the depot blocking it with an armoured personell carrier. They then marched into the centre of Doncaster and held a mass picket of the main Tesco store. Lorries attempting to deliver to the shop were detained by pickets until the police intervened. Meanwhile more strikers leafletted every entrance to the store appealing for local people to boycott it until the dispute is resolved to the drivers satisfaction.
London, 20.10.12: over 150,000 march against austerity. Many if them were demanding a general strike, a call echoed at the rally by the general secretaries of PCS, RMT and the biggest union in Britain, UNITE. Now we just need to make it happen.
November 14th will see a coordinated European general strike against austerity, the first such strike in history. At the very least we need protests and demonstrations in Britain – if we could get walkouts too that would be a great start to building the resistance.