Union urges talks over Tube strikes

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The Independent Online

The biggest rail workers' union today called for talks with London Underground in a bid to head off a series of Tube strikes which threatens travel chaos for millions of commuters.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union who drive Tube trains are set to stage a series of walkouts between next Monday, May 16 and Friday May 20 and again from Monday June 13 and Friday June 17 in protest at the sacking of two colleagues.

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.

RMT leader Bob Crow said: "The time has come for common-sense to prevail and for Mayor Boris Johnson and his officials to meet with us directly to resolve this dispute - not least in light of our latest victory in the employment tribunal proving conclusively unfair dismissal on the grounds of trade union activities.

"All that we are seeking to do is get our unfairly-dismissed members back to work doing the job that they are being paid by Londoners to do - driving Tube trains."

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, said today: "Instead of pointless calls for changes in the law, Boris Johnson has to look much closer to home, about how he runs his administration and why employee relations have deteriorated so badly under him at the expense of Tube users.

"The cost of his poor judgment threatens to cause huge disruption to Tube services and cost London's economy millions of pounds."

London Underground managing director, Mike Brown, said: "As we have always said, disputes involving individuals should be dealt with through the mechanisms established for that purpose. While that process takes its course, there remains no reason whatsoever for the RMT leadership to seek to disrupt Londoners by threatening strike action.

"The RMT leadership should immediately call off its strike threat, backed by only 29% of its balloted members. We will, of course, study the employment tribunal judgment and carefully consider our next steps.

"Whilst the tribunal has made a finding of unfair dismissal, it has also found that on the 9 August 2010 Mr Lynch breached an established and significant safety rule and was in part culpable or blameworthy for his actions."

"The RMT leadership has named two sets of strike dates notwithstanding the fact that a process already exists to deal with individual disputes."