THERE ARE red, angry faces at the RMT union. There are red, humiliated faces at Metronet. Tube workers are angry at Metronet's recent sacking of six Farringdon track workers.
Metronet is humiliated by the fact that the company installed the wrong brackets in the tunnel at Farringdon last week , causing a shutdown of three lines. Metronet staff are balloting for strike action because six Metronet employees have been fitted up and sacked, accused of drinking on duty. Metronet, which runs two thirds of tube maintenance, had received 'reports' of workers drinking at their cabin in Farringdon station.
Despite the implications for safety, Metronet waited for weeks before acting. When they did act, they let the workers finish their shift before testing them for drugs and alcohol. All of them were clear. Metronet initially suspended 15 of the workers, claiming they were the only 'regular users' of the cabin.
Yet Farringdon station supervisors had complained to management that the platform-level entrance to the cabin was always unlocked. When managers searched the cabin again three days later they found more empty cans in the bin.
Metronet has admitted that the six workers were not sacked on any evidence, but because of the 'probability' that they were the ones responsible. At a packed meeting last week tube workers from all grades heard from the six about the effect the sackings were having on their lives. Drivers, station staff, signallers and other track workers are now building support for the six across the network.
Metronet has already threatened to take court action to stop any strike. But RMT general secretary Bob Crow said, 'We didn't respond to threats from the Labour Party, and we're not going to respond to threats from Metronet. 'These people are bullies, and the best way to beat a bully is to stand up to them.'