UK Politics

RMT union will 'align' itself with Labour but not reaffiliate

RMT banner Image copyright PA
Image caption The union said views on the issue were "finely balanced"

The RMT rail union has decided against formally reaffiliating to Labour, deciding instead to closely "align" itself with Jeremy Corbyn's party.

The union's executive committee said it wanted its 80,000 members to be active within Labour and would allow branches to fund candidates at elections.

But it stopped short of restoring permanent financial links, ended when it disaffiliated from Labour in 2004.

General secretary Mick Cash said he would not rule this out in future.

Speaking after a special meeting of the RMT's executive committee, Mr Cash said the views of members and local branches were "finely balanced" on the issue and the union would revisit the question of reaffiliation if there was "clearer support" among its members.

The Fire Brigades Union voted to rejoin Labour in November 2015, months after Mr Corbyn's election as leader.

The RMT became estranged from Labour under Tony Blair's leadership and severed its links following a row over whether individual branches should be able to back other political parties.

While it would remain unaffiliated, Mr Cash - who succeeded the late Bob Crow in 2014 - said the union strongly backed Labour's stance on rail nationalisation and employment rights.

'Socialist advances'

There was overwhelming support among RMT members for Mr Corbyn and anger at attempts by a "hardcore" of Labour MPs to undermine the leader.

"That is why we are now putting in place other concrete steps to throw the weight of the RMT behind supporting the socialist advances that have been made in the Labour Party," he said.

"This will include aligning ourselves towards Labour, encouraging members to be active in Labour and allowing our branches and regions to fund Labour candidates."

Rail unions the TSSA and Aslef are among 14 that are affiliated to Labour.

The historic arrangement sees unions pay an annual fee to Labour in return for receiving certain privileges, including representation on the party's ruling NEC, the right to vote in leadership elections and to elect delegates to attend conferences.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers union was formed by the merger of the National Union of Railwaymen and National Union of Seamen in 1990.

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