Last year, RMT members on East Midlands Trains (EMT) took nearly eight weeks of industrial action (short of strikes).
After EMT bosses sought a high court injunction, some of the action was deemed illegal, on the basis that it was in fact strike action, rather than actions-short-of-strikes.
EMT is suing RMT for hundreds of thousands of pounds off the back of that ruling, but say that they will reduce the amount of damages they will claim if the union agrees to swingeing changes to the terms and conditions of Senior Conductors.
The RMT Executive will likely agree to this to save the union money. It will be bolstered in this by the legal advice it has received, and a decision by the EMT RMT Company Council to agree to the detrimental changes. The Senior Conductor company council reps were out-voted by the four On Train company council reps.
The Senior Conductors would like to bring to the attention of all union members the likely devastating impact they think any decision by the RMT Executive to ratify this agreement will produce amongst their grade and other grades nationally.
Having been called on to strike by the union’s leadership, representing the whole union, they feel rightly aggrieved that the upshot of their loyal action will see their terms and conditions sacrificed in a misplaced effort to protect union funds. They fear that recruitment, retention and the readiness to take industrial action for the forseeable future amongst this grade will be very badly affected.
The formal decision is likely to be taken at a meeting of the RMT Executive in December. Senior Conductors and their supporters will be lobbying this meeting, and if the decision stands will be calling for a ballot of the members affected.
If the Executive agrees to EMT’s deal, won’t members think twice about voting for action when they know that, if the union doesn’t get the right legal advice and is later threatened with financial sanction after an unfavourable legal ruling (workers usually lose against employers when it comes to the law) it will probably throw them to the wolves rather than taking a collective hit?
Senior RMT figures are suggesting that the union cannot take the financial hit. In an effort to blunt some of the arguments presented by EMT Senior Conductors, they say that this won’t happen again because the union’s industrial action will only take the form of strike action from now!
This seems to be a case of throwing the baby out with the bath water and should be the decision of an AGM rather than the Executive.
Whether this is adopted or not we must still give these members fair treatment and pay the fine rather than sell their T&Cs.
Will this be the defining moment of our new General Secretary’s term of office? Whatever happened to solidarity?