by Vaughan Thomas, Regional Council President

It’s an emotive word and one which used in the workplace has even led to disciplinary action. Nevertheless, it is an important part of the lexicon of picketers and very effective when used properly!

So what are “scabs” and what motivates them?

Some people join a militant union to gain effective representation - insurance if you like - but will come into work through self-interest when their union calls a strike. These are definitely scabs and whilst tarring and feathering may not necessarily be the solution neither are they worthth wasting breath on.

Some people join a militant union in the full intention of supporting it but are intimidated and bullied by managers into coming into work. Whilst not inherently bad people, these are also scabs, but with a bit of work can be won around from the dark side.

Some people choose to join a yellow union in the knowledge that they are unlikely to be called out on strike and that their leaders will support them when they decide to come into work across RMT picket lines. These are bad people and whilst they may technically claim not to be scabs, they are to all intents and purposes, scabs.

Other people join a union in good faith believing that theirs is a principled organisation only to find themselves being instructed to cross picket lines. When confronted with fellow workers in dispute they will express solidarity, turn on their heels and walk away. These are true trade unionists and should be cheered to the rafters. Hopefully, in time, they will see the error of their ways and join the RMT. Until then treat them like comrades and hope that such principled behaviour is as infectious as swine flu.

The solution to scabbery is to lead by example; talk to your workmates, persuade them of the justness of our cause; be aware of their concerns and support them if they feel intimidated; explain that the RMT is by far the best union for transport workers and always have a membership form in your pocket.