Londoners suffer travel chaos as strike shuts “Tube” network

Millions of Londoners struggle to get to work as a 24-hour strike by staff and drivers brought the British capital’s underground rail network to a complete halt.

LONDON, ENGLAND, UK (JULY 9, 2015) (REUTERS) – With London’s underground rail network, or “Tube” as it is known, completely shut down by industrial action, millions of commuters struggled to get to work on Thursday morning (July 9).

London Underground bosses said no trains would run all day on the Tube, the world’s oldest underground passenger railway, because of the stoppage which follows a dispute over plans for new night services.

Talks between LU and the unions have been bitter and have gone on for months.

Mel Taylor is the negotiator for the TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association). She said workers do not take the decision to strike lightly.

“When London Underground staff take strike action, they lose pay, it’s not something they want to do and they are only doing it because there is genuinely no other alternative, because we have been trying to talk to London Underground management and they have been refusing to listen to us,” she said.

Members of four unions have joined the walkout, unhappy with the pay and terms offered by London Underground (LU) to implement a 24-hour service at weekends on some lines.

LU has said it has hired an extra 137 night drivers and that many staff would be unaffected by the changes.

A spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday the strike was “unacceptable and unjustified”.

Steve Hedley, Senior Assistant General Secretary of the RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport) union accused the government of forcing Tube workers to go on strike to strengthen calls by the ruling Conservative Party for new legislation to crack down on industrial action.

“We think that this is a politically motivated dispute, I think that the government want a chance to bring in the anti-trade union laws and that is why they have had such hard-faced managers negotiating in ACAS,” Hedley said referring to the dispute mediation body.

Commuters who usually use the underground network were forced to walk, cycle, take taxis or try to find seats on crowded buses.

Transport bosses said they had put on extra bus and river services with marshals positioned at the main overground rail stations to help manage the extra demand for buses and taxis.

The strike is due to end on Thursday evening, but services are likely to still be affected during Friday morning’s rush hour.