Supporters of Off The Rails, a platform for rank-and-file rail workers published by Workers' Liberty, have proposed and supported a number of motions in their RMT branches, for submission to the RMT AGM. These include motions on:
The text of these motions are below. We encourage any readers who are delegates to the AGM to support these motions, and others that seek to democratise and radicalise the union.
As RMT has a longstanding history of support for British withdrawal from the EU, and opposition to free movement, the motion on Brexit from East Midlands Central branch is likely to be particularly controversial. But the right for supporters of minority viewpoints to propose and argue for those viewpoints within union structures is as essential facet of democracy. We believe it is essential that an alternative political case is heard at the AGM.
RMT Officers' Pay
This Union believes in the principle that workers’ representatives should be on a workers’ wage. This means trade union officials, MPs or other people in similar positions should not be on salaries closer to those of the bosses than of the workers they represent.
This Union notes that the salaries for our three senior national officer positions are way above many of our members, including those in higher paid grades. To be elected to said posts is an honour based on having beliefs and policies to better our members’ interests. Paying a high salary because it will ‘attract the best people for the job’ is not the right way.
This AGM therefore instructs the National Executive Committee to produce a report into how these principles could be put into practice. Any savings made could be used to increase dispute funds to help win industrial battles.
Free Our Unions
This conferences notes that anti-union laws restrict effective trade unionism. Restrictions include:
• Industrial action only after a two week notice period and a secret postal ballot in which we need a 40% yes vote (for essential public services like transport) on a 50% turnout.
• A ban on industrial action in solidarity with workers of another employer or for wider social and political causes.
• Regulations on union finances, unions′ political involvement and how we run our picket lines.
This conference notes that the Labour Party leadership is pledging to repeal the 2016 Trade Union Act within its first 100 days of taking office.
This conference notes that recent Labour Party Conferences have voted unanimously in favour of repealing all the anti-union laws and supporting ′a strong legal charter of workers′ rights′ including the ′right to strike′ (2017 Conference).
This conference welcomes the Free Our Unions Campaign initiated by Lambeth Unison and supported by a range of trade union bodies including RMT London Transport Regional Council and Eastern Region FBU. This campaign is working to repeal all anti-union laws and enshrine workers′ rights. It is particularly focused on pushing the Labour Party to act on this
This conference believes:
That repealing the 2016 Trade Union Act would not do enough to give trade unions the freedom to take action how and when we want, e.g. solidarity action would still be illegal. We need the repeal of all anti-union laws.
That the trade union movement must build pressure on the Labour Party to make the most of a historic opportunity, the prospect of a left-led Labour Party repealing all anti-union laws when elected to government.
This conference resolves:
1. To add RMT as a signatory to the Free Our Unions campaign.
2. To circulate information about the campaign to all RMT branches, asking for branches to support the campaign and get involved in its demonstrations and activity.
3. To purchase and circulate campaign materials to all branches, e.g. the pamphlet, ′Free Our Unions′.
4. To invite speakers from the campaign to speak at RMT branches, conferences and training events.
5. To write to members of the RMT Parliamentary Group, Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, expressing RMT′s support for free trade unions and urging them to publicly support this policy.
6. To support a motion on free trade unions in line with this policy at TUC conference.”
Defend freedom of movement, stop Brexit
This conference notes:
1. RMT’s historic opposition to British membership of the EU, and support for Brexit in the 2016 referendum. It has become increasingly clear however that in the short and medium term any form of Brexit will detrimentally impact migrants’ rights and working-class living standards in general.
2. That RMT has a significant proportion of members who are EU citizens.
3. That, as a result of the UK’s membership of the EU, UK citizens gained the right to study and work in EU countries; and citizens of EU countries gained the right to work in the UK, a reciprocal arrangement widely referred to as ‘free movement’.
4. That the Government’s post-Brexit plan is to end free movement and implement a ‘skills-based’ immigration system for EU citizens.
This conference believes:
1. That free movement has increased RMT’s ability to organise workers from EU countries, which has improved our organisation in low paid jobs, such as cleaning.
2. That ending free movement will have a detrimental effect on RMT’s ability to organise workers from EU countries in future. We agree with the report by Another Europe Is Possible, Brexit and Immigration: prioritising the rights of all workers, which concludes: ‘the simple reality is that migrants with fewer rights will be more vulnerable to super exploitation. Whenever and wherever this happens all workers will suffer.’
3. That plans to end free movement are inextricable from all realistically available EU exit deals, meaning that defending free movement entails opposing Brexit.
This conference resolves:
1. To defend all workers who face adverse consequences from any post-Brexit immigration.
2. To campaign for a “freedom of movement +” system of immigration which would include:
• The retention of a rights-based migration system (free movement) ‘plus’ a series of strengthened workers’ rights and social protections;
• Using UK legislation to institute sector-by-sector bargaining systems to establish minimum pay and conditions;
• Speeding up the UK’s adoption of the EU’s ‘Third Directive’ on Posted Workers which would implement the principle of ‘the same pay for the same work in the same place’.
• A ban on ‘foreign only’ recruitment practices.
• Inspections and strictly enforced penalties for unscrupulous employers.
3. To campaign to stop Brexit. We do not support or endorse the EU as a set of institutions. However, a British capitalist state withdrawn from the EU will be just as much of a neoliberal bosses club as the EU itself. Integration of capital across borders provides a higher platform for integrated working-class struggle across borders to oppose capitalism. We will do this in alliance with socialist anti-Brexit campaigns, fighting for workers’ unity across Europe, against neoliberalism, for the levelling up of rights, and to retain and expand the right to free movement for RMT members present and future.