By Ian Dunt
Londoners are braced for travel chaos next month as a row over the sacking of two tube drivers threatened to prompt a six day strike.
Around half the capital's tube drivers are expected to join the strike after the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) voted two to one to back industrial action following the dismissal of Northern Line driver Eamon Lynch and Bakerloo Line driver Arwyn Thomas.
The sackings are alleged to be connected to last autumn's strike action. Mr Lynch is a drivers' health and safety representative on the Bakerloo Line while Mr Thomas was alleged to have been sacked on "trumped up charges" over an incident which took place during the strike - a claim London Underground flatly denies.
'All of our customers are international and we need those transport links to be as efficient and effective as possible'
'Because key gateways have been capacity constrained, a lot of freighter services now terminate in mainland Europe'
"It is absolute nonsense to suggest that these individuals were dismissed unfairly due to their union activities and it is disgraceful that the RMT leadership has chosen to ballot for strike action when both cases are still going through the employment tribunal process," a Transport for London spokesperson said.
"The threat of strike action will never resolve issues such as this."
Strike action will take place between 21.01 BST on Monday May 16th and 11.59 BST on Tuesday May 17th, 12.00 BST on Wednesday May 18th and 11.59 BST on Thursday May 19th, and 12.00 BST and 21.00 BST on Friday May 20th.
There will then be further action between 21.01 BST on Monday June 13th and 11.59 BST on Tuesday June 14th, 12.00 BST on Wednesday June 15th and 11.59 BST on Thursday June 16th, and 12.00 BST and 21.00 BST on Friday June 17th.
With the actions staggered over a series of days and services disrupted on either side of the planned walk outs Londoners can expect major disruption for a two-week period.
An employment tribunal has given the two men "interim relief" ahead of a full hearing into their case.