London grinds to a halt during 24 hours of strikes

  • By Nisha Patel

All but one tube line affected amidst largest ever walk out

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Tube staff have gone on strike across the entire London Underground network in a row over ticket office closures. With the exception of small sections of the DLR line.

The talks with staff broke down last night resulting in a mass walk out late on Sunday evening affecting Monday morning rush hour.

Workers from the RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) unions are staging a 24-hour walk out.

“Last-ditch” talks, called for by the Mayor of London, failed to materialise after unions rejected a “new offer” from Transport for London (TFL).

Passengers have been warned that most Zone 1 stations are to be closed during this action.

Closures started at 18:00 on Sunday evening and are expected to last until Tuesday morning.

TFL has advised passengers not to travel on Monday before 07:00 and to complete all return journeys before 18:00.

It warned there would be “severely reduced service across the Tube network” and no service at all on the Victoria or Waterloo & City lines.

About 150 extra buses were set to be deployed and river services “enhanced” throughout the strike, with “travel ambassadors” deployed to help commuters, TFL said.

Hackney Cab drivers have complained that the tube strikes have not resulted in an increase in taxi usage with people either staying off work or using transport apps such as Uber.

Many companies across The City including inner city schools have closed for the day in a move that is set to hit the UK economy hard.

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Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan called the strikes “Damaging and pointless”

National Rail services will not be affected by the strike, but there will be no Tube services from key interchange stations such as Victoria, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Paddington, Euston, Bank and London Bridge.

Piccadilly line services will run between Hammersmith and Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3, but there will be no service to Terminals 4 or 5. The resulting missed flights alone is set to cost the UK economy millions not to mention the knock on effects to the international economy due to loss of key corporate travel through Heathrow.

At the start of the strike London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: “This tube strike will cause misery to millions of Londoners.”

Mr Khan said he has instructed TFL “to continue negotiating”.

The Labour mayor said TFL’s negotiating team “will be available around the clock to resolve this dispute”.

TFL previously said it would address the recommendations of a recent report, which found the closure of ticket offices had caused “significant issues” for Tube passengers.

Steve Griffiths, Chief Operating Officer for London Underground (LU), said the process to hire 200 extra staff had already begun.

“Taking into account existing vacancies and natural turnover this means that over 600 staff will be recruited for stations this year” Griffiths said.

Several rounds of emergency talks had failed to break the deadlock between TFL and the unions, who claim planned ticket office closures pose a safety risk to passengers.

The biggest rail union, the RMT, walked out of talks at conciliation service Acas on Saturday.

A “new offer”, reportedly made after the RMT walk-out, had been briefly considered by the TSSA.

Expected Tube disruption:

  • The majority of central London Tube stations will be closed
  • No Underground services from stations such as Victoria, King’s Cross, Waterloo, Paddington, Euston, Bank and London Bridge
  • Piccadilly line services will run between Hammersmith and Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3, but not to Terminals 4 or 5
  • No service on the Victoria or Waterloo & City lines
  • Limited services on other Tube lines in outer London
  • Buses, road and rail services including the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) are expected to be much busier than usual

On Sunday the TSSA announced it had rejected the offer after consulting its members overnight.

The RMT disputes the claim there was a new offer, telling members LU had “given exactly the same offer again” during Saturday’s talks.

“This is just not acceptable. The unsafe practices and pressure on staff and passengers have to be resisted and will be”. RMT regional organiser John Leach said.

Supporters travelling back from FA Cup home games at Tottenham and Chelsea were expected to be affected by travel disruption.

The dispute in a nutshell

  • Arround 4’000 tube staff have walked out in the dispute over job losses, ticket office closures and pay.
  • London Underground says it is attempting to save money so it does not have to increase the price of tickets which are already the highest in Europe.
  • 838 jobs had been axed and ticket offices closed under previous mayor Boris Johnson
  • The unions claim London Underground is only offering to reinstate 150 jobs, but TfL says 600 staff will be recruited for stations this year.

Several economists and London CEOs have called for those who strike to loose their jobs.

“We all have a job to do, if we don’t like our job, we must find a new one, it’s the way the world works. Damaging people’s livelihoods and businesses due to personal greed is not acceptable. They should not have a job to return to as a result in a strike that puts people’s safety and income at significant risk. People travelling for medical reasons or for education will be in a terrible situation. The strikes are the most selfish and ridiculous thing I’ve heard of.”

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