**UPDATE: The Defend Mark Harding campaign is calling for the biggest possible display of solidarity with him at the RMT picket line this Wednesday, 12th Feb, at Hammersmith (H&C) station, the scene of Mark’s arrest last week. All trades unionists, campaigners & social justice activists are welcome. Picket line / demonstration of support starts 04:30 and runs all day. All welcome. Bring banners, whistles, vuvuzelas, etc. (ok, not really vuvuzelas).
Over the last year we have seen baseless arrests followed by draconian bail conditions being used by police on a range of demonstrations (anti-fascist, anti-fracking, student demonstrations) to remove peoples right to organise and protest
Now these tactics have been used against Mark Harding, Branch Secretary of Hammersmith and City RMT, who was arrested whilst on a picket line for asking a colleague to respect the picket line. His bail conditions include “Not to be actively involved in any RMT trade union or any other union associated with LUL/TfL or to be in attendance at any organised industrial Action until the case is finalised’.
This is a serious attack on the right to participate in strike action and trade union activity. It is as fellow RMT members say “ a breach of Mark’s human and civil rights to associate freely with his fellow RMT members and a clear and flagrant invitation to LUL to dismiss a great, dedicated RMT activist and elected official.”
It is is essential we all unite behind the campaign to get these charges dropped immediately. The impact of the tube strikes has been impressive and widely supported with clear potential to drive back attacks on jobs and conditions. This punitive action is clearly designed to intimidate trade unionists taking action -and indeed to send a warning to other trade unionists and the wider public supporting and desiring effective action against cuts. (see http://www.rmtlondoncalling.org.uk/ejm)
Already Mark’s union branch RMT Paddington No.1 has met (Friday, 7 February 2014) and carried a following resolution unanimously calling on “RMT Council of Executives to make a call on the whole of the trade union movement and all those who support democratic rights to campaign to overturn the offensive persecution of Mark Harding by the police.”
MORE INFO: Mark Harding, BranchSecretary of Hammersmith and City RMT is being victimised for carrying out his legitimate trade union duties. He was hauled off a picket line at Hammersmith by police after a strike breaking staff member got upset at being asked to respect the picket line.
The complainant appears then to have made allegations to the police who, despite the complainant having no witnesses or corroboration then arrested Mark. Mark has been charged under Section 241 of the Trade Unions and Labour Relations Act, which is a very heavy charge “intimidation or annoyance by violence or otherwise”.
Mark’s bail conditions have been framed in such a way as to make it nigh on impossible to assist with the strike action in defence of jobs and conditions that he has played such a part of delivering, or even to attend meetings connected with his union branch.
This is a deliberate strategy to take out such a prominent activist at such a crucial point in our dispute. RMT members will not stand idly by and see one of our most important activists sidelined. Mark has a tremendous record of building the RMT and defending and representing our members both within and outside of LU. Now’s the time to repay all Mark’s hard work.
Keep up to date with the campaign: https://www.facebook.com/DefendMarkHarding