RMT Condemns Charges Brought Against Brother Harding

From RMT Senior Assistant General Secretary Mick Cash

The following resolution has been received from London Transport Regional Council:

“This Regional Council condemns the arrest by BTP of Mark Harding, the RMT Branch Secretary of Hammersmith & City Branch. Mark was arrested despite only carrying out legitimate trade union activities whilst on the picket line outside his place of work.

This Regional Council further condemns the detention of Mark for nearly 13 hours, an extraordinary length of time in light of the minor nature of the allegation (name calling) that led to the police being called...(there be more). Mark strenuously denies all allegations.

In light of the above this Regional Council therefore further condemns the charge brought against Mark under Section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act, although this branch notes that in using TULRA the police are making it clear that they are attempting to criminalise Mark for his TU activities.

This branch condemns the draconian bail conditions that were placed on Mark, which sought to ban him from any & all trade union activity, including even attending his own defence meeting.

This Regional Council congratulates the RMT’s legal representatives who swiftly challenged & overturned the bail conditions, but we note that this move by the police is part of a trend of criminalising and restricting the right to protest.

This Regional Council calls on the General Secretary of our union to write to the Head of the BTP in order to protest about the harassment, arrest and detention of Mark Harding. We further call on the General Secretary to raise the matter with the TUC, as the use of TULRA against one of our members is part of a worrying trend of criminalising dissent and the right to protest. Many of the TUC's affiliates are preparing to mark the 30th anniversary of the miners' strike. The police attacks on freedom of assembly and the right to protest were honed in that dispute and continue to be developed to this day; think 'kettling' for example. The anniversary events mean little if our members are still under attack today.

The Regional Council, gives notice that in the event of any sanction, criminal or civil, via the courts or the employer, we reserve the right use any and all means at our disposal to defend Mark, including an immediate industrial action ballot.”

This matter was then considered by the General Grades Committee, which has taken the following decision:-

“We note the resolution from the London Transport Regional Council and wholeheartedly agree that the arrest by BTP of Mark Harding, the RMT Branch Secretary of Hammersmith and City Branch was a travesty of civil liberties. Bro Harding was arrested despite only carrying out legitimate trade union activities whilst on the picket line outside his place of work. We agree that his detention for nearly 13 hours and the draconian bail conditions imposed were extreme to say the least.

This General Grades Committee also condemns the charge brought against Mark under section 241 of the Trade union and Labour Relations Act, which we believe is an attempt to criminalise Bro Harding for his TU Activities.

We instruct the General Secretary to continue provide Mark with the best legal advice and representation possible. We also instruct the General Secretary to write to the head of BTP in order to protest about the harassment, arrest and detention of Mark in the manner that took place. Further, we instruct the General Secretary to raise the matter with the TUC to highlight the use of TULCRA against one of our members as a pernicious attempt to criminalise Trade Union Activity, dissent and the right to protest.

The General Grades committee will stand by all our representatives, activists and members who face similar threats either by the BTP or the employer for carrying out lawful, legitimate and rightful trade union activity. We will use all means at our disposal to defend Bro Harding, including balloting our members for industrial action if necessary.”

I am currently acting in accordance with the above decision.