Tube strike 'could take place on 17 February'

London Underground, The Tube, turns 150

Union bosses open ballot for 24-hour Tube strike in protest at the dismissal of 'victimised' driver

LAST UPDATED AT 12:01 ON Mon 26 Jan 2015

Commuters in London could face major disruption next month after the RMT called for a Tube strike following the dismissal of a train driver for allegedly failing an alcohol breath test.

The RMT has called a strike ballot, beginning today, which will return its result on 10 February, union bosses said. The 24-hour Tube strike could take place as early as Tuesday 17 February, The Independent reports.

The proposed industrial action is in protest over the sacking of a Northern Line driver who lost his job after reportedly failing a routine breath test before going on duty in June last year.  

Northern Line drivers staged a strike on 1 December last year in protest over the dismissal, claiming that the driver had been "victimised" by London Underground.

The RMT represents approximately a third of the 3,200 Tube drivers. During the Northern Line strike, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: "Our members are standing rock-solid, shoulder to shoulder with their victimised colleague and, as we have said all along, the union is determined to secure a just and fair outcome to this dispute."

Phil Hufton, London Underground’s chief operating officer, said: "We have been clear from the outset that the RMT had absolutely no basis to take strike action after one of their members was dismissed for failing an alcohol breath test."

Nigel Holness, London Underground’s operations director for the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, added that the network stood by its zero-tolerance attitude to alcohol, noting that the dismissed driver had failed the random test twice. "Any suggestion of strike action is, therefore, completely unjustified and we urge all staff to reject this unnecessary ballot."


Tube strike: Northern Line drivers walk out over sacking

1 December

Commuters could face delays today due to industrial action by drivers on the Northern Line. The Tube strike results from the dismissal of a driver for "failing an alcohol breath test," the BBC reports.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said that the sacked driver had a "specific medical condition" and described the dismissal as "unwarranted".

RMT members began their strike at 4.30am and will not return to work for 24 hours.

Phil Hufton, London Underground’s chief operating officer, criticised the RMT's decision to strike, insisting that the dismissal was legitimate.

"The RMT has absolutely no basis to take strike action after one of their members was dismissed for failing an alcohol breath test," Hufton said.

He added: "To ensure the safety of our employees and customers we operate a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol at work. At no point to date has the RMT leadership disputed our alcohol testing process, which is fully in line with medical standards and is representative of best practice in the rail industry."

Cash said that the decision to strike was only taken after attempts to resolve the dispute through the conciliation service Acas had broken down.

"Talks at Acas, which RMT had been calling for with the objective of reaching a fair and just settlement in this case, have broken down due to a total refusal of the management side to engage in any kind of meaningful discussions," he said.

"As a result of London Underground’s disregard for negotiations and their own procedures Monday’s action goes ahead as planned."

London Underground said that it hoped to run a good service on the Northern Line throughout the day. Currently there are no reports of disruption.

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No rail service of any sort west of Exeter, so England cut off from Cornwall and likely to be for weeks; but that is obviously much less important than a few people having to get a bus rather than the tube in that London...

Economically it is.