Strikes by RMT and Aslef drivers on the Central Line (the Leytonstone depot of which also provides drivers for the Waterloo and City Line) have completely shut the line today, in an impressive display of workers' strength.
The strikes are part of overlapping and parallel disputes. RMT has two disputes, one demanding the reinstatement of Paul Bailey, and another against authoritarian management culture. Aslef's disputes relate to the latter issue, and the unfair sacking of one of their members after a procedural error.
Management spin alleges that Paul Bailey "failed a drugs test". In fact, he registered on a drugs test after taking hemp supplements, but was within the "cut-off" limit for the substance. In essence he was sacked for passing a drugs test. This calls into question the integrity of LU's entire drugs and alcohol testing regime and it's absolutely right that Paul's colleagues are striking to demand his reinstatement.
The issues around management culture closely mirror those over which drivers on the Piccadilly Line recently struck: a culture of petty discipline, hauling drivers in for unnecessary attendance reviews and case conferences, and a heavy-handed attitude to drivers from Service Control. This strike demands dignity at work, and the right not to be pushed around by bullying bosses.
The total shutdown of the lines is a testament to drivers' resolve. But while one day of action may be enough to push management into further talks, it may not be sufficient to secure concessions. If the situation doesn't improve, unions need to give serious consideration to coordinated and sustained strikes.