Confusion over Tube strike 'suspension'

London Underground claims a series of strikes protesting against the sacking of two Tube drivers been suspended, despite the RMT union insisting they will go ahead.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union were set to walk out next week and from June 13, threatening travel chaos for millions of commuters.

One of the sacked men, Bakerloo Line driver Eamonn Lynch, has won his claim of unfair dismissal, while the other dismissed worker, Northern Line driver Arwyn Thomas, is also taking a case to an employment tribunal.

LU's announcement that the strikes were off followed talks today between the company and RMT leaders.

Mike Brown, LU's managing director, said: "As we've always said, there are established mechanisms in place to deal with individual disputes, and that is the process that has been followed here.

"Following a meeting with the RMT leadership this morning, the RMT have withdrawn their threat of industrial action, and we have avoided significant disruption for London.

"Responding to the results of the employment tribunal, not to the threat of strike action, London Underground has agreed to re-engage Mr Lynch in our employment in an alternative position and to discuss Mr Thomas' case further ahead of the planned tribunal.

"We are pleased to have secured agreement from the RMT leadership to jointly engage in an independent review of industrial disputes in London Underground."

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "I welcome the RMT's decision to call off their industrial action and their recognition that flexing union muscle is completely unjustified and unnecessary.

"I am also pleased that the union has recognised that there was a significant safety breach in the case of Eamonn Lynch and that I, as mayor, will not tolerate the lives of Londoners being put at risk.

"It is right for London Underground management and the unions to strive to achieve a more constructive, long-term engagement and I wish to encourage that. The capital is rightly fed-up with pointless, futile and destructive strikes."

An RMT spokesman maintained later that the strikes had not been called off, saying: "The strike action in the victimisation dispute on London Underground has not been called off. We have not received confirmation of any potential offer from London Underground as a consequence of earlier talks.

"If and when any written confirmation of any offer is received it will be considered by our executive and a statement will be issued by the RMT."

Labour's London mayoral candidate, Ken Livingstone, said: "Boris Johnson's failure to manage relations sensibly with the Tube unions has already cost the capital with many Londoners changing their plans because of the threat of widespread strikes and disruption to public transport.

"Boris Johnson repeatedly told us there was no basis for this dispute, saying the drivers were properly dismissed under the procedures, but now he has been found to have unfairly dismissed a driver and offered him another job. It is a massive climbdown by the mayor that leaves his industrial relations policy in chaos.

"According to his official diary the mayor has held 86 meetings with bankers, just 48 with the Met Police and none with the Tube unions in three years. Boris Johnson promised a no-strike deal on the Tube but all he has to show for it after three years as mayor are rising levels of delays, closures and strike threats on London Underground."