AWL members have been taking our politics to the gatelines, ticket offices, drivers’ cabins, platforms and engineering depots of the London Underground combine as we mobilise to canvas for our comrade Janine Booth in her attempt to win a seat on the RMT Council of Executives.
AWLers in London have taken responsibility for stretches of lines or groups of stations, as well as participating in canvassing days where we’ve met centrally and divided up sections of the tube map between us. It’s not difficult to get into conversations with workers at stations; many have seen our industrial bulletin, Tubeworker, before so they know we’re people who are serious about what we do and have something informed and interesting to say. The response we’re getting on stations about Janine is overwhelmingly positive; some workers say they’re voting for her because they think it’s important to have a female representative on the council. Some say they’re voting for her because she puts union democracy and member-control front and centre in her campaign, and some say they’re voting for her because of her record as a rep and as Secretary of the London Transport Regional Council.
In many ways, this is the bread-and-butter of what it means to be a member of the AWL; revolutionary workers taking class-struggle ideas out to other workers and discussing them with them. Of course we’re asking people whether they’ll be voting for Janine and trying to persuade them, but we’re also having conversations about the state of the union, what rank-and-file organisation means, where the current dispute is going and bigger questions besides.
The election campaign has also mobilised militants in the RMT who are not AWL members but who believe that Janine is the best candidate to take forward the cause of democratic, member-led fighting trade unionism.
We’re fighting the campaign to win, but whatever the result of the election we’ll have been successful in talking to countless workers about the class struggle and discussing how we can organise to fight. And that, ultimately, is what the AWL is for.