Arwyn Thomas, an RMT (rail union) rep unfairly dismissed by London Underground management, was reinstated on 22 June to LU employment on drivers’ pay.
Although he still faces downgrading and a sixth-month suspension (during which time he will be employed by the RMT as an organiser), his reinstatement is an enormous victory for Tube workers against a management which seemed, until recently, intransigent.
Arwyn is one of three prominent RMT reps sacked during the course of the 2010/2011 job cuts dispute (the others are Peter Hartshorn and Eamonn Lynch). Arwyn’s reinstatement makes the scoreline in that particular conflict 3-0 to the workers, after Peter and Eamonn were also reinstated earlier in the year.
Success in this campaign may give Tube workers a much-needed morale boost to take into their next battle — a fight over pay in which bosses are attempting to impose a 5-year deal at rates only very slightly above inflation. The dispute also has extremely significant lessons for the wider labour movement (see centre pages).
Janine Booth, London Transport region representative on the RMT Executive, said: “This is a very important win that reps and activists worked very hard to achieve. Arwyn has been steadfast and principled throughout, and the union adopted a strategy where we escalated action when we had to, put the rank-and-file train grades and strike committees in the driving seat, and called imaginative action which we refused to call off until Arwyn’s return to work was secured. The outcome is not 100% perfect, but in the circumstances, it is a big victory.
“We will now be using this momentum to build union strength in the workplace to enable us to fight off future attacks.”