When is supporting a union not supporting a union?

Val Shawcross got rather upset at the London Assembly AGM this morning when she was described as having supported the RMT, perhaps she is sensitive because today we hear about another set of strikes called by the RMT leadership.

Ken Livingstone’s running mate gets very tetchy about this issue, heaven forbid anyone should believe that she is in some way the Union’s mouthpiece here at City Hall, heaven forbid we should think that her thoughts and actions are focused more for the benefit of the RMT than of Londoners.


Val Shawcross with a group of people standing
outside a place of work, protesting about something

Val made her position clear; she had never joined a picket line, and had not supported the RMT she said. I did a little looking up for the definition of a picket and found variations on the following:

“A person or group of people standing outside a place of work or other venue, protesting about something”.

Now maybe I’m not up on the precise semantics associated with the union movement but when I see members of a union that is holding London’s commuters to ransom waving flags and holding placards outside City Hall I would say they fitted that definition pretty well. And when I see Val Shawcross amongst them, holding a placard under those very flags and banners I find it hard to understand what she is complaining about.

I am happy for Val to dance on the head of a pin over the precise definition of what she means by support, I am even happy to give her the benefit of the doubt and call it a “protest” rather than a “picket” but I doubt that many Londoners, who are going to be inconvenienced once again by the RMT, will be quite so generous.

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