Striking tube workers brought misery and chaos to millions of Londoners today. This is despite unions demands for further job creations at salaries of up to £45,000.
Commuters used cars, boats, bicycles and heaving buses to cope with a 24-hour walkout by underground station staff that left the majority of “Tube” stops in central London closed and no services operating from mainline stations such as Victoria, Kings Cross and Waterloo.
Huge queues began building up outside stations while many major roads in the city were gridlocked.
Monday’s walkout on the Tube, which carries up to 4.8 million passengers a day, begins a week of industrial action which will hit rail and air passengers, and there are warnings the problems could spread across the country.
Train drivers on Southern Rail are striking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, bringing all rail services used by hundreds of thousands of passengers from the south coast and Gatwick Airport to London to a halt.
Southern commuters have already suffered months of delays, cancellations and walkouts in Britain’s worse rail disruption in decades, due to a row over whose role it should be to open and close doors on the trains.
British Airways staff will also begin a strike for two days over pay on Tuesday, although the impact of the walkout is likely to be limited.
The London Underground strike by staff in the RMT and TSSA unions comes in a dispute over staffing levels after the closure of ticket offices in recent years.
Transport for London (TfL) said it agreed more staff were needed in stations, and it had already started recruiting 200 extra workers. However, the unions said TfL’s offer did not go far enough.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed dismay:
“The strike today is totally unnecessary,”..this Tube strike is causing misery to millions of Londoners.”
Many Conservative lawmakers have called for the government to bring in new laws to curb strikes which they say cost millions of pounds and damage London’s image as one of the world’s major economic and financial powerhouses.