Update - May 10th 2011 - Tube Strikes Are Off - You may have read reports that London Underground had negotiated with the RMT to suspend strikes due to start on 16th May. Now RMT have finally confirmed London Underground's position and the Tube Strike is off.
Earlier the BBC and other sources reported, London Underground's MD Mike Brown, who said "Following a meeting with the RMT leadership this morning, the RMT have withdrawn their threat of industrial action, and we have avoided significant disruption for London."
Here's the earlier post with some of the background:
RMT driver members are to take six days of strike action starting from 16th May 2011 in a row over the sacking of two Tube drivers. The strikes will effectively disrupt the London Underground over a period of two weeks, with RMT leader Bob Crow saying the action will have a "major impact" on services.
64% of members voted in favour of strike action over the dismissal of Arwyn Thomas, a Bakerloo Line driver and Eamon Lynch, a Northern Line driver. Both men have taken a case of unfair dismissal to an employment tribunal.
The driver strikes are currently planned for between nine and 24 hours from Monday 16 May to Friday 20 May and again from Monday 13 June to Friday 17 June.
Bob Crow said: "It is the abject failure of LU to recognise that their policy of victimisation of union activists has been well and truly rumbled both in the employment tribunal and in their own depots, and it is that harassment and bullying that has left us with no choice but to name these dates for strike action ".
Jubilant members from the union added on website RMT London Calling "This is a major achievement for the union and shows that drivers across the whole of the combine and in every depot are determined to stop the victimisation of our fellow drivers. Never before has the union escalated an individual case across the whole of the Tube network.
Support for RMT campaigns combine wide are normally based on pay issues, terms and conditions or safety. To gain the support of our driver members the length and breadth of the combine for these two individuals is a fantastic show of solidarity for our victimised work mates. This result sends a clear message to LU bosses that drivers have had enough of the abuse of procedures and the oppressive management regime in force."
They continued "However much you try to keep your head down and get through your shift, the oppressive breath of management is there, scorching the back of your neck. Eamonn and Arwyn’s sackings are not random: they are part of a management strategy to remove RMT from the workplace and, with it, any resistance to what they want to do to you."
Although this round of strike action is not about pay, they added "Whilst they are receiving gongs such as 'train operator of the year' and boasting that we are moving more people in living history, they want to reward you with a multiyear pay cut! With inflation running at over 5%, interest rate rises on the way and cost of fuel and other living costs going through the roof all they have offered is 4% for the first year and RPI + 0.25% for the following 4."
At time of writing there is no statement about the proposed strike on TfL's site but they told the BBC that it's "absolute nonsense" to suggest the two men were dismissed unfairly due to their union activities.
Talks are continuing, so there is a chance the strikes may get called off, however with such a majority in favour of the industrial action it's unlikely the legality of the strike will be challenged. Watch this space as more news comes in and in the meantime get prepared for disruption from the 16th May.
Update - 6th May 2011 - Earlier today one of the sacked drivers, Eamonn Lynch won his claim of unfair dismissal, so now Bob Crow's demanding an immediate meeting with TfL
He said "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 Managing Director, Mike Brown, said '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 the 9 August 2010 Mr Lynch breached an established and significant safety rule and was in part culpable or blameworthy for his actions.'