Rail union takes Labour Party to High Court over expulsion

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Indy Politics

Labour is facing high-profile legal action about its decision to expel the RMT rail union from the party.

Labour is facing high-profile legal action about its decision to expel the RMT rail union from the party.

The leaders of the union, one of Labour's founding organisations, have decided to take the party to the High Court, alleging it has breached the laws of natural justice.

The 55,000-strong union was thrown out last month after confirming its decision to allow branches to affiliate to other parties. The Labour high command has been warned that the RMT will be seeking a High Court writ alleging that the party has acted unlawfully: the first legal action of its kind.

Bob Crow, the RMT's left-wing general secretary, argues that the union was not allowed a hearing to explain its initiative or any appeal against its expulsion. Mr Crowsaid that there is nothing in the rule book to prevent a union affiliated to Labour joining another organisation. The RMT initially opted to allow branches to affiliate to other parties last summer and confirmed the decision by 42 votes to eight at an emergency meeting.

The Scottish region have decided to affiliate to the hard-left Scottish Socialist Party.

Ian McCartney, chairman of the Labour Party, had warned that the policy, decided by "such a small number of people" would mean the RMT would be thrown out.

The split comes after increasing disquiet among RMT activists about the rightward drift of the Government. Left-wingers have been angered by ministers' refusal to renationalise the rail network and by the Government's participation in the war against Iraq.

The RMT, under Mr Crow's leadership, has cut party contributions from £112,0000 a year to £12,500.

Leaders of the Fire Brigades Union will come under strong pressure at their annual conference in May to renounce the union's relationship with the party following last year's bitter nine-month dispute. A fall in Labour membership has meant that the party has had to rely increasingly on donations from unions, which still command 50 per cent of the vote on policy.

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