Socialist Worker

Tube workers

by TONY COLLINS, tube worker
Issue No. 1901

CHRIS BARRETT'S case has been plastered over the media since he was sacked. He was accused of playing squash while off sick with an injured ankle, but it was clear from the start that London Underground wanted a high-profile scalp as part of an offensive against tube workers and their unions.

His address was leaked to the press, and the Evening Standard camped outside his house for days. London Underground management, and even mayor Ken Livingstone, were happy to sound off about how Chris deserved to be sacked. But last week Chris finally cleared his name. An employment tribunal found that London Underground had unfairly dismissed him.

The tribunal recognised that Chris was faced with a hostile management, was denied union representation, and the victim of a kangaroo court that was determined to get rid of him. Tube drivers at Edgware Road depot struck last November in support of Chris. Had we not taken action, Chris would not have felt able to take the case to a tribunal.

But the tribunal system is outrageous. First, workers have to wait for months-even years-to get any kind of justice. More importantly, even when management are proved to be wrong they can completely ignore the judgement and refuse to give sacked workers their jobs back. Bullying and intimidation are rife throughout the tube. The essential lesson of Chris's case is that only by organising and being prepared to stop the job can we stop the culture of bullying that pervades so many workplaces.

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Article information

Sat 15 May 2004, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 1901
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