Minister attacks latest Tube strikes

A planned six-day strike on London Underground was condemned by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond in Parliament today.

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union will walk out later this month and in June, threatening travel chaos for millions of passengers.



Mr Hammond said the strikes were "highly irresponsible" and warned the union they would only lead to "tougher industrial relations laws".



At Commons question time, Tory Greg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham) asked: "Will you join me in condemning the proposed six days of tube strikes by the RMT next month over only two individual employees as both obscene and irresponsible?



"And also Labour's candidate for London mayor (Ken Livingstone) who has singularly failed to condemn the action, and indeed his deputy (Val Shawcross) who even appears at RMT protest meetings?"



Mr Hammond replied: "I absolutely agree with you. This series of strikes is highly irresponsible.



"No one in this Government is spoiling for a fight with the unions but the unions appear to be spoiling for a fight with London.



"I say to the RMT and other unions that this kind of irresponsible strike action, where an alternative, proper remedy - there's an employment tribunal ongoing - is available, this is only strengthening the hand of those including the mayor who are calling for tougher industrial relations laws."



The RMT said around 1,500 Tube drivers will walk out for between nine and 24 hours from Monday May 16 to Friday May 20 and again from Monday June 13 to Friday June 17.



The move follows a 2-1 vote in favour of industrial action by RMT members in protest at the dismissal of Northern Line driver Eamon Lynch and Arwyn Thomas, a Bakerloo Line driver. Both men have taken a case of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.









Commons Leader Sir George Young, a former transport secretary, also criticised the RMT.



During questions on future Commons business, Sir George said: "This Government is not seeking to pick a fight with the trade unions. We have no plans to introduce fresh legislation on employment laws, but we do keep the matter under review.



"I very much hope trade unions will not resort to strike action until every other opportunity has been examined.



"In this particular case, I am not convinced they have done this."









Bob Crow, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: "It is clear that there is now a concerted attack being mobilised by the hard right of the Tory Party that would attempt to impose a form of twisted democracy on the RMT and the trade unions that would mean that the vast majority of politicians, including London Mayor Boris Johnson, would not have been elected if the same rules applied.



"RMT secured a two to one vote for action on a 46% turnout in this latest ballot - higher than the turnout in the 2008 mayoral election and streets ahead of the Euro elections and every set of council elections in living memory.



"We are also watching with interest the turnout in today's AV vote - will Boris and his crew try and overturn that if it fails to hit 50%?



"This is simple class war and a return to form for the old-school Tory right - one form of democracy for the political class and another for the working class fighting to defend jobs, services and their victimised colleagues."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living