General Election – RMT Strategy

Our ref: P11

Head Office Circular: NP/139/24

5th June 2024


To: The Secretary




Dear Colleague,


General Election – RMT Strategy


The NEC recently made a decision in relation to the election which I have summarized below. I have also attached a shorter message message which will be sent to our members direct and placed on social media. 


We are not affiliated to any political party. Successive AGMs have upheld Rule 23, Clause 22, which allows branches to submit requests to support non-Labour candidates and as with our previous approach we reaffirm this position and will give consideration to supporting such requests on a case-by-case basis if it’s in the interests of the union’s members to do so. Any such request should be made in good time. 


The union has already committed to back Jeremy Corbyn who has now declared he is standing as an Independent in Islington North. 


We also note that the 2018 SGM as well as continuing our political strategy at the time stated that Branches can support Labour candidates without reference to the NEC. We note that this policy has also been sustained at subsequent AGMs and some branches will already be taking this approach to the forthcoming General Election.


We note that Labour is committed to a New Deal for Working People which could be an important first step to wider improvements in workers’ and trade union rights which states that “Conservatives have consistently attacked rights at work, including through the Trade Union Act 2016, the Minimum Service Levels (Strikes) Bill and the Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Businesses (Amendment) Regulations 2022 – all of which Labour will repeal to give trade unions the freedom to organise, represent and negotiate on behalf of their workers.” 


We also note that Labour has published its rail policy which commits to bringing all franchises back into public ownership within the first term of a Labour government and takes important steps to reintegrate track and train, with a new body Great British Railways, taking over operations and infrastructure, with all TOC and Network Rail Staff to be employed by a single rail single employer. 


In the bus industry Labour has said it will remove the ban on establishing municipally owned bus operators and will allow local councils to set up publicly owned bus companies.   Whilst the Union continues to campaign for the complete nationalisation of our railways and public ownership, these are important steps in the right direction. 


Labour has also committed to a mandatory seafarer’s charter for the ferry sector and the union is in discussion with the shadow ministers in respect of ensuring seafarers rights are part of the New Deal. 


The union also recently held constructive discussions with Labour on these, and also offshore energy issues during a recent visit to Holyhead.  The union is also engaging with the party on other policies including the need to end the scourge of outsourcing. Our approach to the general election must ensure we do all we can to maintain and develop influence over Labour policies that will have a direct bearing on our members interests at work.  


Although Labour is supporting some of our key policies, the TUC and wider trade union movement needs to present an alternative, coherent and credible economic strategy that also radically challenges the current orthodoxy on spending and borrowing so that we can properly fund our industries and public services. 


We note the TUCG unions have recently written to the general secretary of the TUC calling on the TUC to develop an alternative progressive TUC economic strategy and alternative budget, and the union should continue to campaign in this area. 


Alongside the rest of the trade union movement, we are also appalled and condemn the approach the Labour leadership has taken to the conflict in Palestine, and we reiterate that we will continue to campaign for a permanent ceasefire and just settlement in the middle east. 


What is clear is that the outcome of the general election will be a Tory-led Government or Labour-led government and that in order to defeat the Tories, Labour has to win. 


A Labour government is not the same as a Tory government. Over the last fourteen years Tories have undertaken a sustained attack on our members through anti-union legislation such as the 2016 Trade Union Act, minimum services and attacks on terms and conditions in the TOC and Network Rail disputes, along with their continued support for privatisation of our railways.  


The Tories have also presided over the P&O scandal where they did nothing to protect our members and over two years later have still not enacted any legislation that would prevent another P&O. 


It is our belief that if the Tories are elected then they will come back with an even more vicious assault on our members jobs and conditions, and trade union and employment rights.  


It is objectively in our members interests to get the Tories out which means getting a Labour led government in, and our members will need to campaign and vote accordingly. Apart from those unions who do not hold political funds, or whose political funds rules require that they remain publicly politically neutral, this will also be the position of other trade unions. A Labour government increases our prospects of successfully fighting to improve our members interests. 


A pre-condition of making progress on our key policies is that the next government will progress these policies and deliver the necessary legislation.  We are not naïve, however and there will be no blank cheques for Labour. 


We know that there are already concerted attempts to dilute progressive policies both before and after the election. Protections for our members and the delivery of progressive polices are not delivered by trusting in politicians to do us a favour. 


They are delivered, as always, by our union and the wider trade union movement being prepared to fight for progressive change. That means that before and after the election, we must prepare for major struggles to ensure the next government adopts our positions. We will continue to fight to protect our members’ jobs and conditions.  Our fighting political and industrial approach will continue before the election and after the election.”


The NEC has also noted It is also vital that the union maintains and strengthens its support in Parliament to ensure we can mount strong campaigns in Parliament following the general election and the union will also be supporting a range of Labour and socialist candidates from the National Political Fund and this is being progressed. 


This NEC position is the basis of the union’s approach and stance in the general election. 


Yours sincerely,



Michael Lynch

General Secretary