London Underground Refuses to Reinstate Arwyn Thomas: RMT to Step Up Action

RMT General Grades Committee decision:

That we are appalled that following the agreement we reached with London Underground last week, LU has instructed its lawyers not to discuss re-employing Arwyn Thomas, and instead to discuss only a financial settlement.

This is despite an Employment Tribunal having awarded Arwyn interim relief, finding that he was unfairly dismissed due to his trade union activities and asking LU to reinstate him. The only way to put right the injustice of Arwyn's dismissal is to reverse it, by Arwyn returning to work as a London Underground driver.

This union and our victimised member will not be bought off by a financial pay-out. Neither do we think it is appropriate to give public money to a victimised worker as a means to avoid re-employing him when he is more than willing to return to work: Arwyn wants to be paid to do his job, not be paid to go away.

Last week, we reached agreement with London Underground that it would reinstate Eamonn Lynch and take part in legal discussions to resolve Arwyn Thomas' case without it having to go to the full Employment Tribunal starting on 23 May. London Underground was - and remains - fully aware that the only resolution acceptable to us and our member is for Arwyn to return to working for LU. The company's refusal to even discuss this is a betrayal of an agreement that enabled us to suspend strike action due to start on 16 May and spare London's passengers and our members the disruptive effects of strikes.

Moreover, our agreement included the establishment of an independent inquiry into industrial disputes on LU. This has been widely welcomed as an opportunity to move away from the demoralising and anti-union regime of recent years, and follows the Employment Tribunal in Eamonn Lynch's case issuing a judgment that included scathing comments about LU managers, questioning their truthfulness, reliability and commitment to basic standards of justice. LU's current refusal to discuss reinstating Arwyn suggests that the company has learned little from the ET ruling and will treat the inquiry with contempt.

Should LU not immediately agree to talks to arrange Arwyn's return to work, we will pursue his case to full Tribunal, and will lift the suspension of strike action and call new strikes. The dates for these strikes to be discussed by the GGC on Monday 23 May, following consultation with our representatives. We note that also on 23 May, our Council of Executives will discuss making dispute payments to members taking strike action.

We further instruct the General Secretary to urgently prepare a matrix to ballot other LU grades for strike action to join this dispute, in line with our previous decision of 3 March 2011. This ballot is to be initiated following consultation with our representatives and Regional Council next week.

This decision to be communicated to our members, branches, London Underground and the media.

What is a National Executive Committee decision?

This article is an 'executive decision' which has been written by the RMT National Executive Committee. The National Executive is the union's governing body in between AGMs. Its decisions set out what the union will do on a particular issue.

These decisions can often be brief, and may be one of several passed over a period of time. To get a better understanding or find out more information about what the RMT is doing, speak to your rep or attend your branch or Regional Council meeting.