Mark Harding not guilty
MARK Hardy, the London Underground RMT branch official facing charges of threatening behaviour on a picket line, was found not guilty on Monday at Hammersmith Magistrates Court.
The charges were brought under section 241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 as amended by Schedules seven and 17 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 during the last phase of tube strike action.
The charge arose after Harding spoke briefly to a worker asking him not to cross the picket line. The exchange between them was friendly but a junior manager who witnessed it lodged a complaint of threatening behaviour.
On Monday Harding was acquitted on the grounds of lack of evidence but not before an anti-union warning rant from the magistrates.
Mick Cash, RMT acting general secretary, said “This is an important victory, not just for RMT but for the whole trade union movement, and has significant implications for every single trade unionist taking action and seeking to picket effectively at the workplace.
“RMT always said that this prosecution was politically motivated and was just another attempt to tighten the noose of the anti-trade union laws around the necks of those sections of the working class prepared to stand up and fight.
“It shouldn’t be forgotten that this prosecution arose from the dispute on London Underground over savage cuts to jobs, services and safety and that fight continues.”
The union had been considering strike action if Harding did not get a fair trial.
Campaigning against attacks on disabled people
PAUL NOWAK, the TUC assistant general secretary, last week addressed the TUC’s annual disabled workers’ conference in London and called for unions and disability organisations to come together to campaign against Government attacks on state welfare.
Speaking at the event in Congress House he said: “The past four years have been tough for disabled people in Britain. Cuts have devastated the NHS, social care and mental health services.
“Welfare reforms have shattered incomes and lifelines, and shameless propaganda about scroungers and spongers has fuelled prejudice, discrimination and hate.
“Sadly this torrent of right-wing vitriol has begun to strike a chord with the British public. As polling shows, attitudes towards the welfare state have really hardened.
“But behind the cuts and the benefit changes are real people.
“People like 24-year-old Amy Jones who has cerebral palsy. Paralysed in her left arm, Amy has deformities in her legs that make walking painful and incredibly tiring.
“Yet she’s just been told she may lose her Employment Support Allowance as an Atos assessment said her condition was expected to improve.
“Or 28-year-old Kelly Marie Lennon who is blind and unable to walk or talk, and relies on a spare room as storage for her wheelchair and as a sensory haven. But her mother Dawn is now being asked to stump up £570 a year because of a bedroom tax that she simply cannot afford.
“It is a scandal that shames modern Britain and ministers should hang their heads in shame. The picture is grim – and for as long as austerity continues, it will continue to be grim for disabled people who need any kind of support.