Tube victimisation dispute – the facts

Publication Date: June 14 2011

With strike action in the tube victimisation dispute beginning this weekend, tube union RMT today set out a summary of the key facts regarding the specific case of Northern Line driver Arwyn Thomas:

1. Arwyn has been a member of the RMT for nearly 30 years and throughout this time has had an exemplary employment record with London Underground without even so much as a reference for attendance or lateness.

2. During his 30 years, Arwyn has been a staunch and loyal activist in the RMT supporting the union’s campaigns, holding a number of offices – right up to executive level within London Transport – and representing members at all levels.

3. The wholly unfounded allegations against Arwyn are that he was abusive towards a strike-breaker at the Morden depot and towards a station supervisor at Kennington. Not only are these allegations totally untrue but at Arwyns “Interim Relief” tribunal hearing the chair, on hearing evidence from both sides, took the almost unprecedented step of asking the LU managers to step outside for fifteen minutes to consider immediate reinstatement.

4. LU managers foolishly refused the Tribunal chair’s invitation and as a consequence Arwyn was awarded “Interim Relief”, putting him back on full wages pending the outcome of his full tribunal. This decision was hugely significant as the burden of proof to secure interim relief on the grounds of dismissal for union activities is set extremely high – as it was in the case of victimised and reinstated driver Eamonn Lynch.

5. At the full Employment Tribunal hearing, which has now concluded and for which we await the results, the CCTV evidence showed clearly that not only had Arwyn not been abusive but that he had been pursued across the station by the strike-breaker who was openly trying to provoke a confrontation. It also showed that at no time did he enter the supervisor’s office at Kennington, contrary to the management claims. The only independent witness stated that there was no aggression on Arwyn’s part.

6. As a consequence of all the evidence it is absolutely clear that the charges against Arwyn that led to his dismissal are entirely bogus and it is also clear that the real reason for his dismissal is because he has shown himself to be a loyal and effective union activist for the past thirty years.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

The facts in Arwyn Thomas’s case could not be clearer and with the rolling action due to start this weekend I would appeal again to London Underground to see sense, abide by the spirit of the agreement we reached with them weeks ago over these vitimisations and get Arwyn back to work doing what he is being paid to do – drive tube trains.

This trade union would not be worth its salt if we didn’t stand up and fight injustice and Arwyn Thomas’s case is probably the clearest cut case of victimisation on the grounds of union activities that you will ever see. The chair of the interim tribunal found exactly that when LU were invited to adjourn for fifteen minutes and re-employ – it is a tragedy for Londoner’s and for industrial relations on the tube that they blew that opportunity.

However, it’s not too late to make amends and rather than plunging London into a series of tube-wide actions starting Sunday night there is still time to put right this wrong and we remain available for talks aimed at achieving a just outcome in this case.”

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