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Tube Strike Causes No Disruption

London Underground LogoThe first of 4 strikes on the London Underground’s Tube services ended on Monday morning, and the results may not have been what the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union was aiming for. The industrial action by the drivers was held in protest of the company firing activist Arwyn Thomas. The company says that it’s holding an employment tribunal for his dismissal and will reinstate him at the tribunal’s request.

The Tube drivers started the strike at 9pm on Sunday evening and ended at 3am Monday, coinciding with the beginning of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, which will end July 3. The tournament is due to face possible disruption the whole time, as the other 3 walkouts have been scheduled for June 27, 29 and July 1. Despite the first strike, however, London Underground says that its services ran without any problems. The company said that all 11 of its lines were operating good services Monday morning, and its full fleet was expected to be in service for the peak hours.

Managing director Mike Brown has asked RMT to call the next walkout off, saying that this first action didn’t achieve anything. He wants the union to calmly wait for the outcome of the employment tribunal. He has given union leaders a written assurance that they will reinstate or reengage Thomas if the tribunal rules it so, he added.

RMT London transport organiser Steve Hedley says that the strikes aren’t designed to inconvenience travellers but to keep the cause alive. They chose a date and shift that they knew wouldn’t disrupt Londoners and involve too many drivers going on strike.

The union believes that Thomas, a Northern Line driver, was booted for his union activities. It has demanded that he is reinstated before the final decision is given by the tribunal, but London Underground has insisted it will only make a move after the ruling is passed down. June 27, the next strike day, is also the same day the tribunal is due to give its decision. Hedley added that London Underground will have every chance to call off the strike if the tribunal comes back.

The next strike will start at 9:01pm and end at 11:59am the following day. The June 29 walkout will start at 12pm and end at 11:59am the next day. The July 1 strike will start at 12pm and end at 9pm the same day.

Meanwhile, the RMT union is also aiming to disrupt Heathrow Express services, which shuttle travellers between Paddington station in central London and Heathrow Airport, the biggest hub in the country. The union has objected to a pay offer for the train service’s employees, saying that it wouldn’t keep up with inflation. A strike on the service will be held on June 26 from 9:15am to 9:14am the following morning. The union has also requested that its members not work overtime or additional hours during 2 other 24-hour time spans.

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