Socialist Worker

Drivers signal strikes to defend their union

by Matthew Cookson
Issue No. 2250

London Underground will likely face severe disruption for at least 48 hours after tube drivers voted for strikes over the victimisation of union reps.

The workers’ decision reveals the depth of anger against tube bosses’ attempts to break the union.

Drivers in the RMT union voted by 63.9 percent for strikes on a 36.1 percent turnout.

Bosses sacked Eamon Lynch, a union health and safety rep on the Bakerloo Line, and Arwyn Thomas, a driver at Morden.

Both won “interim relief” at employment tribunals, which is only awarded in cases where there is clear evidence of employees being dismissed for trade union activity. Both remain on full pay.

Rage at their sacking led workmates to strike in their support. The RMT has since extended the dispute to include all its drivers.

Arwyn told Socialist Worker, “Management are on the rampage.

“Drivers have been stood down and put on disciplinary action for things that would not even have got you a slap on the wrist a few years ago.

“The mood among drivers to fight this has been growing by the day. And the 26 March TUC demonstration has raised everyone’s sights and spirits.

“High profile strikes are what we need now.”

A meeting of RMT activists last week discussed the union’s strategy for the dispute now that the ballot has been won.

Union leaders and activists agreed that strikes of more than 24-hours would be necessary, with the possibility of shorter walkouts also taking place.

The meeting emphasised the need to win every driver to the action to defend the union.

Rank and file RMT members hope to win solidarity from drivers in the Aslef union. They have shown their support in previous fights with management.

“The RMT is in favour of co-ordinating its strikes with others,” said Arwyn, noting the wave of action expected by public sector unions at the end of June.

“Hopefully, our dispute will be decided in our favour by then. But if not, we should be looking to co-ordinate with other workers.”

The RMT were to meet this week to discuss strike dates.

Two strike ballots at Northumberland Park

RMT union members at London Underground’s Northumberland Park fleet and engineering branches are also to ballot for strikes in separate disputes over disciplinary investigations and grade progression.

No to multi-year pay deal

RMT, TSSA and Aslef unions have all rejected tube bosses’ multi-year pay deal.

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Tue 3 May 2011, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2250
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