'Don't disrespect the Queen by striking on her Jubilee weekend', union warned

24 May 2022, 08:46 | Updated: 24 May 2022, 19:31

The RMT was told action on the Jubilee weekend would disrespect the Queen
The RMT was told action on the Jubilee weekend would disrespect the Queen. Picture: Alamy/LBC

By Will Taylor

Don't disrespect the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee by striking at stations that are crucial to celebrations, a rail union has been warned.

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The RMT union wants staff to walk out on Euston and Green Park Tube stations on June 3, the second day of the four day extended weekend.

It wants Transport for London [TfL] to take action against a manager who's been accused of bullying.

Both stations are important to visitors in London who want to take part in celebrations.

But speaking on LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, Transport for London commissioner Andy Byford said disruptive action would be disrespectful to the Queen as she celebrates 70 years on the throne, while Grant Shapps, the transport secretary, said the union was going about making itself unpopular in London.

Mr Byford said: "We're hoping to avoid that [action]. At the moment, the RMT has said that they intend to take action at those two stations.

"Our intention is to keep those two stations open.

"It relates to one manager. There's absolutely no need for anyone to disrupt the Queen's Jubilee.

"The Queen has been on the throne for 70 years, people are coming to London specially – let's not disrespect the Queen with a dispute.

Read more: RMT to call crippling 24-hour London Underground strike for day after Jubilee weekend

"So one way or another, we will keep those stations opened safely, I hope that in talking to our colleagues at the RMT we can avoid that.

"No-one wants this – let’s keep talking."

Mr Shapps said: "A word to the unions – if you're trying to make yourselves unpopular… I would've thought doing something over Her Majesty's [Platinum] Jubilee, we're the only people in history who will have been alive when a monarch's celebrated 70 years on the throne, I can't think of anything less popular that they could conjure up.

"Doing this, when frankly people want to just have a weekend celebrating Her Majesty's extraordinary achievement of 70 years is just asking for them to be the least favourable people in London if they go and do that. Have some common sense, that's what I would say."

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Grant Shapps should focus less on trying to restrict the democratic rights of workers to take industrial action and more time encouraging Network Rail and the train operating companies to settle the national rail dispute.

"On the possible strike action on June 3, TfL needs to take action to deal with a bullying manager that has got away with appalling behaviour for years. TfL bears responsibility for letting this issue fester when all they have to do is ring the union telling us they've dealt with the person in question.

"We call for reason and common sense to prevail and for TfL to do what they should have done when we first raised this issue a few years ago."

The RMT members are also set to strike on June 6, the day after the extended weekend, when Londoners will be heading back to work.

It looks likely it will force stations across Zone 1, in central London, to shut down.

The dispute sparked outrage, including from London mayor Sadiq Khan, who said he was against the strike.

Mr Byford told Nick: "We want to resolve this dispute.

"We've made solemn assurances to our colleagues at the RMT that where we need to make savings, and we do need to make savings with the impact of the pandemic, those savings can and will be made through attrition.

"In other words where we need to reduce the number of station jobs that won't be through making people redundant, it'll be by not filling jobs as they become vacant."

His comments followed the opening of the Elizabeth Line, which began running services on Tuesday morning.

The repeatedly delayed Crossrail project will allow smoother rides west-to-east across the capital.

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: "Staff at Euston and Green Park have suffered years of sustained bullying and intimidation by a manager who has created a toxic working environment.

Read more: Fury as Tube strike set to cause travel chaos for Queen's Platinum Jubilee weekend

"The union has tried in vain to reason with management, but they now will not let local representatives be part of a review into dismissals at the stations, instigated by the manager in question.

"Our strike on June 3 will cause significant disruption to people wishing to celebrate the Queen's Jubilee.

"However, if Tube bosses do the right thing, and deal appropriately with the manager in question, we can find a just resolution to this dispute."