Tube strike on Saturday night: Why drivers are going on strike this weekend

This weekend's strike will be the second over the issue of a driver dismissed for failing two breathalyser tests

Click to follow

Drivers on the London Underground are set to stage a strike on Saturday evening in a row over a colleague who failed two breath tests. 

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) will walk out from 9:30pm on 7 March until 3:59am on Sunday.

The incident: A tube driver was dismissed for failing two alcohol breath tests in October. The union says that the type of breathalyser used did not account for diabetes, which the driver suffered from.  The disease can produce the chemical acetone in the breath and cause false high breath-alcohol test readings. The LU (London Underground) has concluded that the type of test had not been affected by acetone.

The strike: Members of the RMT voted by 299 to 221 votes to go on strike earlier this month. The turnout was 42%. LU (London Underground) says that the number of drivers that had voted to take strike action represented 8% of all drivers. On 1 December RMT members on the Northern line went on strike for 24 hours over the same issue.

The response: Nick Brown, chief operating of LU, described the strike as “indefensible”, saying; “We will not be swayed by it as we will never compromise on the safety of our customers and staff. You wouldn’t let someone who had been drinking alcohol drive your family in a car, and we don’t let people who have been drinking alcohol drive people’s families in Tube trains”.

How will the strike affect travel? The timings of the action means that it is unlikely to have a significant effect on services. Whilst many travelers may have to reconsider their transport back home on Saturday evening, the fact that it doesn’t extend to Monday morning makes the strike more of a symbolic gesture of defiance than a practical attempt to inconvenience travel.