Unions representing tube workers are considering when to stage a walkout in response to the sacking of tube driver Alex McGuigan.
Tension within Transport for London workers reached its peak following a vote for a strike in protest at what unions consider to be the unlawful sacking of a colleague.
Following a 229-221 vote taken by union members, the earliest possible date for a strike is February 18 as the law requires unions to give at least seven days notice before a strike vote can be implemented.
In the meantime, the two bus strikes scheduled for February 13 and 16 have been postponed – an action received gratefully by commuters.
The London bus strike on Friday has been postponed. The last barrier between me and my New 3DS has been lifted.
— Lee Garbutt (@TheLastMetroid) February 11, 2015
However the latest threat of industrial action on the tube network came in response to the sacking of driver Alex McGuigan in June 2014 for failing an alcohol breath test.
London Underground said the decision was made following a full disciplinary hearing and appeals process, as well as a separate independent director’s review.
However, supporters of McGuigan – who suffers from diabetes – believe the results were altered by the high levels of sweet-smelling acetone usually observed in diabetics.
Additionally, co-workers have repeatedly questioned the efficiency of the breathalyser machine after it was discovered the testing had been reported faulty on several occasions, the BBC reports.
In a statement to the BBC, Nigel Holness, London Underground (LU) Operations Director for the Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly lines, insisted upon a “zero tolerance policy towards drugs and alcohol,” and also refuted the possibility of a “skewed” test result.
This policy has been questioned on social media:
Nigel Holness from the transport authority has said: “We have a zero tolerance policy towards drugs and alcohol.” Since when?? #Tubestrike
— KentsCornishCumbrian (@martinltull) February 10, 2015
After the vote General Secretary of National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers Mick Cash said: “Our members have voted for industrial action and the union will now consult extensively with our representatives before deciding on our next moves in this dispute.”
There was further controversy for the RMT when Steven Hedley, the union’s Assistant General Secretary, launched a personal tirade against LBC radio presenter, Nick Ferrari, in an interview initially planned to address McGuigan’s sacking.
Hedley was removed from the programme after repeatedly asking Ferrari: “Have you stopped beating your wife?” in response to the presenter’s questions about union support for the sacked driver.
Featured image – Flickr: CGP Grey