Steve Hedley, the newly elected assistant general secretary of the RMT was arrested on a picket line at Kings Cross station. He was later released without charge but this is clearly an attack on the democratic right to strike.
Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union employed by contractors ISS on East Coast, which links Retford and Newark with London King's Cross, took a day’s strike action on Monday 10 September. Paid the minimum wage all they were asking for is the London living wage, 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.
Despite Steve never even raising his voice he was arrested on the basis of ‘potential breach of the peace’ as he was later told. 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.