Tube driver suspended after leading 'free, free Palestine' chant on London Underground train

Travellers in London are being warned that strikes by Tube drivers could cause “severe disruption” to night services on weekend evenings until June.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) will walk out on Friday and Saturday evenings from this weekend on the Central and Victoria lines in a dispute over rosters.

The action is set to continue on weekend evenings until June, with passengers urged to check before they travel and use buses to complete journeys.

London Underground (LU) said new rosters included assurances that there will be no job cuts, the option of permanent work for those on part-time contracts, and only scheduling up to four night shift weekends per year.

LU managing director Andy Lord said: “We’re disappointed that once again the RMT is continuing to push for strike action that is likely to cause further unnecessary disruption.

“We’re calling on the RMT to join us for talks so we can work together to resolve this dispute around roster changes, which mean no job losses and greater flexibility for drivers.

“If these six months of action do go ahead, we will continue to operate as regular a service as possible. However, customers are advised to check before they travel and use buses to complete their journeys where required.

“I apologise to them for the impact this unnecessary action will have on their journeys.”

RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “If London Underground and the mayor thought this fight for progressive and family-friendly working practices was going away they need to think again.

“RMT has repeatedly put forward cost neutral proposals that would repair the damage unleashed by deleting 200 driver posts and which would dig LU out of this mess.

“They have ignored us and that approach will have severe consequences for Londoners through to the summer.”
The Tube driver led a chant saying 'free, free Palestine' on a Central line London Underground train on Saturday Credit: PA

A Tube driver who led a chant of “free, free Palestine” on a London Underground train on Saturday has been suspended pending further investigation into the incident, Transport for London said.

The incident took place as an estimated 100,000 protesters participated in a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the capital.

Footage posted online by a journalist appeared to show the chant being led over the train’s speaker system.

The driver of the Central Line service said “free, free” to which the passengers responded “Palestine” – a popular chant at protests.

Protesters during a pro-Palestine march organised by Stop the War Coalition and Palestine Solidarity Campaign in central London Credit: PA

Glynn Barton, Transport for London’s chief operating officer, said: “We have been urgently and thoroughly investigating the footage appearing to show a Tube driver misusing the PA system and leading chants on a Central line train on Saturday.

“A driver has now been identified and suspended whilst we continue to fully investigate the incident in line with our policies and procedures.”

The chant has since been criticised by minister for London Paul Scully who said London Underground staff should "focus on the day job" and warned against stoking tension in the capital.

The Israeli Embassy said: “It is deeply troubling to see such intolerance on London’s Tubes … public transport should be a place of safety and inclusivity for all.”

On Saturday British Transport Police Assistant Chief Constable Sean O’Callaghan said the force was investigating and was “aware of footage circulating on social media which suggests chants are led by driver of a train in London earlier”.

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