Last week the tube union, the RMT, announced a series of strike dates over an ongoing campaign of victimisation against two union activists – Eamonn Lynch and Arwyn Thomas. Phil, at Truth, Reason and Liberty, wrote about this case back in November, and, sadly, six months on, and following the results of an independent employment tribunal, both activists are still suspended with London Underground Ltd. refusing their reinstatement.

RMT official picket

On Thursday the 5th of May, last week, the tribunal found that Eamonn was unfairly dismissed due to his activities as a trade union health and safety representative. You can find the full judgement here but I’ll quote one paragraph from the conclusion now, which illustrates how clearly the case was viewed:

The Tribunal concludes that the Claimant was dismissed principally because he was a member of a health and safety committee. This was inextricably bound up with his status as a union organiser in the minds of the Respondent in the circumstances of this case and we find that he was also dismissed because of his activities in an independent trade union.

Arwyn’s tribunal is due shortly, and I fully expect it to deliver a similar result, but despite the findings of the tribunal London Underground refuses to reinstate the two men. A Remedy Hearing has been scheduled for Friday the 3rd of June and there will be an RMT rally next Monday, prior to the strikes.

You can send a message to the Mayor of London and TfL via Labour Start calling for the workers’ reinstatement. Please show your support democratic trade unionism and the RMT. And if strike action is necessary, as seems, unfortunately, to be the case, do support the picket lines. It can be really depressing standing on a line when it seems like no one else cares and I’m sure messages of support will be very gratefully received.

By coincidence, I started my training as a union rep (or shop steward as they used to be known) on Friday and it’s quite worrying to see that this sort of attack on our basic rights still happens.

The ability of union reps to carry out their duties and not to be victimised for doing so is meant to be enshrined in law, but too many employers seem to think they can ignore those regulations and do whatever they like to undermine our rights at work. Don’t let them do that.

You might be disrupted next week when the RMT go out on strike, but the reason these strikes are happening is because the tube management refuse to follow the law. Those workers out on strike will be losing several days pay, and they’re not there to increase their own wages or improve their own individual conditions. They’re there to protect basic workplace rights. Rights that protect all of us. And just remember, an injury to one is an injury to all.