Transport Secretary Condemns Prospective Strikes on London Underground

15th May 2011

Members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union, whose careers focus on the operation of the London Underground, have announced that they will strike in both May and June. This will effectively shut down the "tube" during those periods. In the House of Commons, Transport Secretary Philip Hammond called the proposed strikes "highly irresponsible." Hammond warned the RMT that this could lead to public support for a crackdown on the power of unionised employees, threatening the security of their jobs.

The strikes focus on what the RMT union sees as the unfair dismissal of two of its drivers, one on the Bakerloo line and one on the Northern line. Hammond and others agree that letting their cases run their course at an employment tribunal is the proper way to address the union's concerns about these dismissals, as opposed to a potentially disruptive action which would affect people's abilities to get to homes and jobs throughout London.

The RMT argues that their response is appropriate considering what they see as systematic efforts on behalf of the Tories to diminish the power of the RMT and other unions. They further note that attempts to portray their strike as based on an illegitimate vote are absurd considering standards usually applied in U.K. elections. What is clear is that if strike action went ahead it would cause a lot of disruption to workers and businesses in London.

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