Referendum on Membership of the European Union

Head Office Circular No. NP/140/16/MC

To all Branches & Regional Councils

Friday 13 May 2016

Dear Colleagues,

Referendum on Membership of the European Union

As you may be aware, the referendum campaign surrounding UK membership of the European Union has now begun.

RMT policy on this matter was decided by rank and file members at the 2015 Annual General Meeting, and the union is campaigning for a Leave vote. The motion carried at the AGM was as follows:


That this Annual General Meeting notes the outcome of the UK general election on 7 May 2015 means that a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union will take place before the end of 2017.

We note that David Cameron has stated that his government intends to renegotiate terms of Britain's EU membership by removing restrictions on big business and protecting special interests of banks and financial institutions based in the City of London, before recommending a 'Yes' vote for Britain to remain in the EU.

We note that the Tory government will be supported in their attempt to maintain Britain's membership of the EU bosses' club by the leadership of the parliamentary Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the Scottish and Welsh nationalist parties. This pro-EU coalition will be joined by the Confederation of British Industry and Institute of Directors, the TUC and most of Britain's billionaire press-owners in calling for a 'Yes' vote.

RMT's 2010 Annual General Meeting held in Aberdeen, adopted a policy to call for a referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union and to campaign for a vote for Britain to leave the EU in a referendum. RMT's policy therefore is to campaign for a progressive 'No' vote to Britain's membership of the EU.

            This AGM instructs the General Secretary and Council of Executives to work to establish an alliance of trade unions, socialists and democrats calling for a 'No' vote in the coming referendum on Britain's EU membership in order to ensure that the arguments for workers' rights and public ownership outside of the Thatcherite straightjacket of the EU are made to British electors.

RMT has registered as an official “leave” campaigner with the Electoral Commission. The union has also affiliated to Trade Unionists against the European Union ( and will be supporting and assisting initiatives by TAEU. The union will also provide speakers for socialist and progressive platforms against the EU. The union is also campaigning publicly with other unions, socialists and trade unionists who share our position.

Additionally, RMT will be promoting the following six key points direct to members across all sectors of the transport industry through the RMT NEWS, through branches and reps and through the union’s social media platforms. Copies of the below in leaflets and poster form will shortly be made available to Branches and Regional Councils.

1.    Leave the EU to end attacks on rail workers
New EU rail policies are set to further entrench rail privatisation and fragmentation. That will also mean more attacks or jobs and conditions and EU laws will make it impossible to bring all of rail back into public ownership.  

2.    Leave the EU to end attacks on seafarers and the offshore workers
The EU has promoted undercutting and social dumping leading to the decimation of UK seafarers. The same is now happening in the offshore sector. EU directives also require the tendering our public ferry services.

3.    Leave the EU to end attacks on workers’ rights
It’s a myth that the EU is in favour of workers. In fact the EU is developing a new policy framework to attack trade union rights, collective bargaining, job protections and wages. This is already being enforced in countries which have received EU “bailouts”.

4.    Leave the EU to end Austerity
If you join a union you expect members of the union to protect each other in times of trouble. The European Union has done the opposite. It has used the economic crisis to impose austerity and privatization on member states. Instead of protecting jobs and investment EU austerity is driving UK austerity.   

5.    Leave the EU to stop the attack on our NHS
The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and the United States will promote big business at the expense government protections and organisations including our NHS! Environmental regulations, employment rights, food safety, privacy laws and many other safeguards will also be secondary to the right of corporations to make even bigger profits.  

6.    Leave the EU to support democracy
The vast majority of the laws that affects our lives are now made in the EU and not the UK. We have no say over those Laws. As the late Tony Benn said in 1991…

“We are discussing whether the British people are to be allowed to elect those who make the laws under which they are governed. The argument is nothing to do with whether we should get more maternity leave from Madame Papandreou [a European Commissioner].”

I would be grateful if you could bring this Circular to the attention of all Branch members and I will keep you informed as to developments and initiatives in the campaign.

If you have any queries regarding the union’s campaign please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Mick Cash
General Secretary