Manchester rail workers win unionist’s job back

By Ólöf Andra Proppé
July 11, 2022

MANCHESTER, England — “We’re learning we can use union power,” Rail, Maritime and Transport Union activist Pete Clifford told a rally in solidarity with striking rail workers here June 25.

Clifford had returned to work June 14 after a union campaign reversed his removal four weeks earlier from his job as a train dispatcher for TransPennine Express at Manchester Piccadilly station here. He is employed by contractor Carlisle Support Services.

He told the rally that along with 13 fellow Carlisle-employed dispatchers and his RMT union branch he fought the sacking. Unionists distributed leaflets throughout the station explaining Clifford was fired for his union activity. They collected 858 signatures on an online petition from workers at the station and around the country demanding his reinstatement.

On June 8 the RMT union’s National Executive Committee announced a strike ballot of dispatchers at the station in support of Clifford. By June 10 Clifford was told he could return to work.

In addition to his union activity, Clifford is known as a distributor of the Militant and member of the Communist League. Bosses’ efforts to fire him were part of an anti-union offensive in the lead-up to national walkouts by rail workers.

The fight to reinstate Clifford “shows exactly what trades unionism and standing together is all about,” said Clayton Clive, secretary of Manchester South RMT branch.

“The law may be on the bosses’ side, but we can still win,” Kevin Olome, a station worker at Manchester Piccadilly, told the Militant.