A union baron plotting a summer of rail chaos is a senior member of the Communist Party who has backed pro-Russian separatists in the Ukraine.
Alex Gordon, president of the RMT union, is a longstanding Marxist who has previously echoed the Kremlin’s propaganda by branding Ukraine ‘a failed state held to ransom by neo-Nazis’.
Following Moscow’s invasion of Crimea, the militant former train driver protested outside Ukraine’s embassy in London in 2015 while wearing the black and orange Ribbon of St George, a symbol of Russian military valour.
It comes as the RMT threatens to bring Britain to a standstill with the biggest rail strike in modern history. More than 40,000 staff are being balloted on industrial action in a row over pay and jobs. If members back the move, millions of passengers will endure rail misery as early as next month.
Already Britain’s most militant union, the RMT has veered even further Left over the past year, rail industry sources say.
‘We could never understand why the RMT is calling strike ballots when the railway is on life support and before there have even been any proper talks,’ one senior source said.
‘Communists and Putin sympathisers have taken over key jobs in the union leadership. They are trying to drag ordinary rail workers into a confrontation which would deeply damage everyone working on the railway.’
Mr Gordon presides over the RMT’s ruling national executive committee. But he is also a major figure in the Communist Party of Britain, sitting on both its executive and political committees. The 55-year-old is also chairman of the Marx Memorial Library in North London, where Communist dictator Vladimir Lenin worked during his exile from Russia.
Eight years ago, Mr Gordon – who jointly owns a £500,000 flat in London – helped launch Solidarity with the Antifascist Resistance in Ukraine (SARU), a campaign group that spouts the Kremlin line that Ukraine is controlled by a ‘far-Right regime’.
In May 2015, he was among 60 demonstrators who protested outside Ukraine’s embassy in London over the deaths of pro-Russian protesters during clashes in Odesa.
On the day that Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine in February, Mr Gordon branded Defence Secretary Ben Wallace a ‘delusional blowhard’ for suggesting the UK could ‘kick the backside’ of Russia.
In March, it emerged that Eddie Dempsey, the RMT’s assistant general secretary, had visited the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine in 2015 where he posed for a picture with a pro-Russian separatist commander.
An RMT spokesman last night said that the union ‘does not support either Vladimir Putin or his actions in Ukraine’, adding: ‘As RMT president, Alex Gordon agrees with the union’s position.’
The RMT’s ballot closes on May 24, with members expected to overwhelmingly back strike action.
The union wants Network Rail to reverse plans to cut 2,500 jobs as part of a £2 billion reduction in spending. It also wants train operating companies to give pay rises in line with inflation.
But The Mail on Sunday has learnt the RMT is gripped by a bitter internal dispute that has led to a small group of former members protesting outside its London office for 75 days since January.
The row, which centres on the dismissal of former RMT education organiser Petrit Mihaj, has led to calls for union bosses not to cross a ‘picket line’ outside the RMT’s headquarters. The union says it is not an official picket and has accused Mr Mihaj of ‘protest stunts’.