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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 15:13 GMT 16:13 UK
RMT calls for mass action
Bob Crow want secondary picketing brought back

Left-wing union boss Bob Crow has called for a return to 1970's style flying pickets and for workers to take to the streets in defence of their demands.

Open in new window : Trade unions guide
The big unions at TUC 2002

Speaking to BBC News Online, the leader of rail union the RMT said he would be supporting a move at next week's TUC conference for the repeal of all anti-trade union laws not yet scrapped by the government.

The return of secondary picketing to give union members the right to take action in favour of any striking workers was a priority.


Workers in industry should be able to take action for other workers

Bob Crow
He said he would particularly like to see secondary action in support of the firefighters currently locked in a dispute over pay.

He also said he wanted to see trade unionists taking to the streets to force the government to scrap remaining anti-union laws.

Direct action

British workers should take a leaf from the book of their counterparts in Spain and Italy, he said.

"At the TUC we will be asking for the total repeal of all anti-trade union legislation brought in by the Tory government," he said.

Picture of AUEW strike in 1974
Secondary picketing was commonly place in the 1970s
Asked if that included secondary picketing, he declared: "Absolutely, yes. Solidarity action is how the trade union movement was built.

"Workers in industry should be able to take action for other workers," he said.

He added that workers in Spain and Italy had taken to the streets in support of their demands and said he wanted to see the same sort of direct action happening in Britain.

"I will be calling next week that we go on the streets like the Italians and Spanish and say 'you can stuff your anti-trades union laws."

Little surprise

Mr Crow, whose union has withdrawn support from senior ministers including Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott and Leader of the House Robin Cook, also said he was happy with other socialist parties standing candidates against Labour MPs who did not support workers.

He defended his union's strike action on the London underground - although he apologised for any inconvenience it caused the travelling public.

Still from Orgreave coking plant during the strike
Police took action to prevent secondary picketing during the miners' strike
His remarks will come as little surprise to the government - particularly as they come on the eve of the TUC conference in Blackpool next week.

But they also underline a growing feeling of discontent with the Labour government which many union members believe has fallen short of their hopes.

Mr Crow accepted that there was little chance of Tony Blair meeting his demands but said it was his job to fight for his workers' demands.

Opposed to war

He also opposed military action on Iraq, saying he needed concrete evidence Saddam Hussein was a threat.

Mr Crow also attacked the US for preparing to hit Iraq for flouting UN resolutions when it did nothing against Israel or northern Cyprus.

Tony Blair is facing a tough time when he addresses the conference next week.

There is mounting discontent over possible action against Iraq, plans to reform the public services and the pensions crisis.

He abandoned what was set to be a difficult speech to the unions last year as it coincided with the 11 September atrocity.

But much of that anger and frustration at the government's policies are likely to erupt this year.

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 ON THIS STORY
RMT leader Bob Crow
"Why should nurses have to go on strike?"

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05 Sep 02 | Business
06 Sep 02 | Forum
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