Tube strike hits 400,000 commuters

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The Independent Online

Commuters in parts of London faced major problems today with two Tube lines affected by striking London Underground drivers.

London Underground said the Circle line was closed and there was only a limited service on the Hammersmith & City line. The two lines are used by almost 400,000 travellers every day.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union on the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines started a 24-hour strike at 9.30pm last night in support of a sacked colleague.

The driver was sacked after he was seen coming out of a sports club in north London while he was on sick leave.

LU said that playing squash was "incompatible" with the reasons the man had given for being off sick, but the union said the driver had been victimised.

Bob Crow, General Secretary of the RMT said: "It is a great pity that the company has devoted so much time, energy and public money on snooping on an employee guilty of nothing more than trying to get fit enough to return to work."

Conservatives on the London Assembly condemned the strike as "irresponsible and selfish" and called on mayor Ken Livingstone to instigate a no-strike deal with the union.

* Train drivers on the Gatwick Express are to stage four one-day strikes, including on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, in a dispute over pay, their union Aslef announced today.