London’s 3.5 million subway commuters will face more travel misery getting home tonight with London Underground unlikely to return to a normal service until tomorrow morning after a 24-hour strike.
The stoppage on the subway, known as the Tube, by the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association is protesting against 800 planned job cuts. The strike began at 7 p.m. yesterday.
“The service won’t be back to normal until tomorrow morning,” Candice Jones, a spokeswoman for Transport for London, said by telephone this afternoon. “The strike ends at 9 this evening and some people might come back to work after that, but people should expect the same level of service as we’ve been running all day.”
About 50 percent of the Tube’s trains have been running throughout today, and around 75 percent of stations remained open, TfL said in a statement. Those numbers are “complete fiction,” RMT general secretary Bob Crow said at a press conference at the TSSA’s offices this afternoon.
The stoppage is the sixth to shut London Underground since 2002 and the third in as many months. Another 24-hour walkout is planned for Nov. 28, and neither union leader ruled out further stoppages after that.
“Our members will make the final decision,” TSSA leader Gerry Doherty told reporters at the union’s office.
“The talks we’ve had with TfL so far aren’t making much progress,” Crow said. “If there are further job cuts and they involve RMT members, we’ll ballot for strike action.”
The strike remained “rock solid” across London today with every line either suspended, part-suspended or running trains through unstaffed stations, according to an e-mailed statement from the RMT. Pickets are in operation at more than 100 stations, according to the statement.
The proposed job losses among ticket-office workers and station managers could affect passenger safety, the RMT has said, a claim TfL denies. Talks between London Underground and the unions broke down on Sept. 22.
“TfL have been running an unsafe service today, with stations being manned by untrained staff and others left completely open overnight,” Crow said at today’s conference.
The previous strike was estimated to have cost businesses 48 million pounds ($77 million), according to forecasts by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. TfL has laid on more than 100 extra buses and capacity for around 10,000 more river journeys today to get Londoners to work.
“Whether by bus, boat or bike, when Londoners beat the strike for a third time I hope the RMT and TSSA leaderships will face facts and see that their action achieves nothing aside from depriving their members of another day’s pay,” Mayor Boris Johnson said in the TfL statement Nov. 1.
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