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RMT assistant gen sec arrested on picket line
Defend trade union rights!
Steve Hedley, the newly elected assistant general secretary of the RMT was arrested on a picket line at Kings Cross station today.
He was later released without charge but this is clearly an attack on the democratic right to strike which must be resisted.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union (RMT) employed by contractors ISS on East Coast trains, which link Retford and Newark with London King's Cross, took a day's strike action today (10 September).
These workers are only paid the minimum wage of £6.09 an hour. All they were asking for is the 'London living wage' of £8.30 an hour, travel passes which most rail workers get and holiday and sick pay.
Striking workers held a successful picket at Kings Cross. At about 9.30am police started to hassle one of the pickets.
Steve stepped in to give advice. He was told it was 'none of his business', despite it being very much his business as a union representative.
Although Steve never even raised his voice he was arrested on the basis of 'potential breach of the peace', as he was later told.
He was handcuffed and humiliatingly marched through the station. He was then held for almost five hours.
Police said he would be released if the picket was stopped but Steve had to inform the police that the strikers would be in place until 6pm.
The right to strike is threatened by the repressive policies of the Con-Dems and Thatcher's anti-trade union laws, kept on the books throughout 13 years of a Labour government. It must be defended.
Socialist Party reporters
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 10 September 2012 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.