RMT strikes Tube driver wins unfair dismissal case

Friday 06 May 2011 08:36 BST

One of the London Underground drivers whose sacking sparked a planned series of Tube strikes has won his claim of unfair dismissal.

Bakerloo Line driver Eamonn Lynch took his case to an employment tribunal, claiming his dismissal was based on his trade union activities.

The Rail Maritime and Transport union backed Mr Lynch, and another sacked worker, Northern Line driver Arwyn Thomas, who is also claiming unfair dismissal.

The union has announced six days of strike action by its Tube driver members over two weeks later this month and in June, threatening travel chaos for millions of passengers, in protest at the sackings.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "We welcome Eamonn's victory in the tribunal and we are calling for an immediate meeting with London Underground in the light of the ruling that he was unfairly dismissed for his trade union activities.

"With the clear parallel with Arywn Thomas's case, there is now an urgent need for London Underground to meet with the RMT to set out a plan for a return to work that can avoid plunging London into two blocks of strike action that everyone knows will lead to massive disruption.

"The tribunal has found in favour of the RMT, justice has been done and now we need to meet with the company to finalise arrangements that can enable us to move forwards as quickly as possible."

London Underground (LU), which had said Mr Lynch was dismissed after breaching established safety rules, urged the RMT to call off the threatened strikes.

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.

"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 August 9 2010 Mr Lynch breached an established and significant safety rule and was in part culpable or blameworthy for his actions."

Mr Thomas was dismissed for "unacceptable and abusive behaviour" towards colleagues, with LU insisting union membership had no bearing on either of the sackings.

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.

Meanwhile, the threat of disruption to Tube travellers grew today with news of a ballot for industrial action on one of the busiest underground lines in a row over safety.

The latest dispute involves a claim by the RMT that safety procedures have been changed on the Jubilee Line following a spate of breakdowns.

Mr Crow said: "We know that the high-profile spate of failures and breakdowns on the Jubilee Line is driving this attempt to short-cut the consultation machinery and safety procedures and we will not allow that to happen.

"The solution to the growing problems on the Jubilee Line is to tackle the core faults with the fleet and operating systems that the failure of Tube privatisation has lumbered us with - cutting corners on safety procedures is a guaranteed recipe for making a bad situation even worse.

"It's our members' anger at the cavalier way that this issue has been dealt with that has triggered this ballot for action short of a strike and we hope that management will see sense and pull this back to allow full risk assessment and proper briefing of operators to take place."

A Transport for London spokesman said of the Jubilee Line dispute: "Once again, the RMT leadership has been caught scaremongering.

"This change has been introduced because, should there be a problem in service, the new signalling control system removes the need to send staff to secure points and allows us to get trains into stations much more quickly and safely than we could before.

"London Underground has carried out full consultation with all trade unions and gave drivers a briefing before the change was implemented last week.

"We are working hard to boost performance on the Jubilee line by investing to complete the upgrade. We urge the RMT leadership to work with us to give customers the 21st century service they deserve."

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