Union Unrest Grinds London Subway To A Halt

REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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Ted Goodman Contributor
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London commuters had to find alternative means of transportation Monday, after a 24-hour strike by transportation workers forced the London subway system to close.

Subway station staff, represented by the Transportation Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA), will meet with management Wednesday to continue negotiations over safe staffing levels. The union has a mandate from a ballot vote in the fall that allows them to call for further strikes, but the TSSA said it does not have any plans to shut down the system again.

Full subway service was restored Tuesday, but commuters in London’s suburbs and the southeast section of the city continue to deal with train service disruptions on the Southern Rail, a busy network that serves millions of commuters in the southern sections of the city and surrounding areas.

The Aslef and RMT Unions, which represent train drivers on the busy Southern Rail, plan to strike Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which is likely to wreck havoc on hundreds of thousands of commuters in and around London. While separate from the subway strike, the Southern Rail strike has been a headache for commuters for weeks. (RELATED: Train Operators Threaten To Derail Britain’s Christmas)

As for the 24-hour subway strike, system management claimed that it had run some trains on eight of 11 of its lines and had 60 percent of its stations open Monday. The TSSA disputed that figure, accusing management of deliberately and “dangerously exaggerating” the mount of service available during the strike.

London’s subway system serves approximately 4 million commuters each day, making it one of the busiest transit networks in the world. The one-day strike forced millions of Londoners and visitors to cram onto buses and trolleys, or hailed an Uber — whose prices jumped four-fold due to the increased demand.

About 3,700 subway station staff, including customer service assistants, supervisors and gate managers, walked out in protest of the networks modernization effort. Nine hundred transportation jobs were lost under Mayor Boris Johnson, and the city’s transportation officials admitted that such cuts were too much.

London has been bracing for transport workers strikes for months. Labor unions representing post office employees and British Airways also announced strike over the holidays, in an effort to maximize exposure to their cause. (RELATED: UK Labor Unions Disrupt Christmas Transportation With Strikes)

The latest disruption to London commuters is a mark against the city’s relatively new mayor, Sadiq Khan, who promised to prevent major labor unrest that disrupts the city.

“I share the deep frustration of millions of commuters whose journeys have been disrupted, all because of a completely unnecessary strike,” the mayor previously told reporters.

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