Tube strikes: Dates for walkout by drivers revealed

Union bosses have revealed details of a series of Tube strikes due to start in less than two weeks.

Tube drivers voted to strike over the "unfair" sacking of two colleagues, the Rail Maritime and Transport union said.

The union said the first walkout was planned for 16 May, with another five before the end of June.

Transport Secretary Philip Hammond said the strike would do London no good and warned the move could damage the future of industrial relations in the UK.

He said: "If the unions behave irresponsibly they are simply strengthening the arguments of those who want changes to our industrial relations laws and those who are demanding a higher voting threshold."

'Abusive behaviour'

There have been calls for the law to be changed so a majority of those eligible to vote, rather than those balloted, have to back industrial action before strikes can go ahead.

London Underground (LU) said the drivers were sacked over charges of "abusive behaviour" and "disregarding safety systems"

The Rail Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said it expected about 1,500 drivers, who are members of the union, not to turn up for shifts on six periods in May and June.

The walkouts are planned to last for between nine and 24 hours from Monday, 16 May to Friday, 20 May and again from Monday, 13 June to Friday, 17 June.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "It is the abject failure of London Underground (LU) to recognise that their policy of victimisation of union activists has been well and truly rumbled... that has left us with no choice but to name these dates for strike action."

He said LU should "accept they have been found out, get these drivers back to work doing the job that they are being paid to do and bring an end to the constant harassment of union activists whose only crime is fighting cuts to jobs and safety".

The RMT said almost two-thirds of its members voted in favour of industrial action over claims Eamon Lynch and Arwyn Thomas were sacked because of their trade union activities.

Both men have taken a case of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.

LU said it was "absolute nonsense" to suggest the men were dismissed because of their union activities.

It added that Mr Thomas was dismissed over "abusive behaviour" towards his colleagues and Mr Lynch was sacked because he "over-rode his train's safety systems and drove the train with complete disregard for established procedures".

'Irresponsible and idiotic'

LU managing director Mike Brown said: "Just 29% of the 1,300 drivers balloted voted for this strike.

"The cases concerned are still going through the employment tribunal process and Transport for London will, of course, respond to whatever conclusions are reached in this process."

He said the RMT leadership seemed determined to disrupt London and its economy over several days.

London mayor Boris Johnson said: "Even by the grim standards of the RMT leadership, the series of strikes they are now seeking to inflict on their members and fellow Londoners are unbelievable.

"Most train drivers did not vote for this action, no-one in London will support them, and to pre-empt the results of an industrial tribunal by resorting to industrial confrontation is immoral, irresponsible and idiotic."

Drivers on the Northern and Bakerloo Line held two strikes last year over the dismissals.

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