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EDITIONS
Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 15:24 GMT
Underground strike escalating
Subway notice
The action has halted underground services
Bosses have sacked 17 Glasgow underground drivers over unofficial action and then warned of more dismissals to come.

Strathclyde Passenger Transport's (SPT) executive said it would "not tolerate" the action, which has brought the city's subway to a standstill.

The Transport and General Workers' Union expressed shock at the move and warned that it was an escalation of the dispute.

SPT had earlier warned that drivers would face disciplinary action.

Billboard
SPT warned that it would take action

The strike, which began on Wednesday morning, involves about 40 drivers who are angry about extra duties they claim they have been required to take on.

In a statement, SPT's director of operations, Douglas Ferguson, said: "SPT will not tolerate such militant behaviour, bringing one of Glasgow's vital public transport modes to a standstill.

"As a result we have today taken action to dismiss those who have taken part in this illegal action.

"We are now calling on other drivers to return to work as normal."

On Wednesday afternoon it looked as though three-quarters of all SPT subway drivers would face the sack.

It is believed 32 drivers out of a total of 42 have failed to show up for their shifts.

Replacement buses

The remaining 10 are on leave, rota'd to be off, or are sick.

The drivers had been required to help train new recruits who will do additional duties such as monitoring CCTV cameras.

The Transport and General Workers' Union is not supporting the strike action.

However, it accused management of trying to "impose change" while a union ballot on the issue was still under way.

Jimmy Farrelly
Jimmy Farrelly: Astonished by management

Jimmy Farrelly, T&G's regional industrial organiser, said he was "absolutely astonished" by the sackings.

He said an urgent meeting was being called with stewards and members.

"This is an unbelievable situation, I cannot begin to think what the management are seeking to do.

"Given the fact there is public money here, I will be calling on people who created this situation to be brought to account.

"To think that less than 24 hours ago we were close to resolving this situation, and now we have arrived at this, is astonishing."

He said he had never encountered such a situation in the public sector before and he added: "I would not want to speculate on what the outcome of these sackings will be, but they will certainly not help."

The 24-hour strike began when the first shift walked out at 0530 GMT on Wednesday.

'Damaging dispute'

SPT has laid on replacement buses to assist the 55,000 people who usually travel on the underground each day.

Stations have been opened to provide alternative travel information and parking in underground car parks is free.

Replacement buses will run between Govan and Partick stations, and Shields Road and St Enoch Square.

Deputy Transport Minister Lewis Macdonald, called for a speedy resolution of the row.

He said: "Clearly this is a damaging dispute and I would hope that the members of staff at SPT would take the advice of their union and that the trade union would talk with management to resolve this problem."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Louise Batchelor
"We could be looking at many weeks of disruption"
See also:

06 Nov 02 | Scotland
21 May 02 | Scotland
02 Feb 02 | Scotland
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
19 Oct 01 | Scotland
07 Sep 01 | Scotland
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