Commuters battling the wintry weather face more travel disruption thanks to the latest strike by London Underground workers.
Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association walked out at 6.30pm on Sunday for 24 hours during a long-running dispute over 800 ticket office job cuts. The union said the stoppage caused “severe disruption” to Tube services, with further problems forecast for the rush hour.
It is the fourth strike in recent months following the collapse last week of talks aimed at breaking the deadlock. Transport for London (TfL) pledged to run as many Tube services as possible, although it warned services would not return to normal until Tuesday.
The RMT said there was severe disruption on the Jubilee Line last night due to signal failure at Westminster and station closures due to the immediate impact of the strike
“The District, Hammersmith and City and Victoria Lines are already severely disrupted due to the immediate impact of strike action. The impact of the action has kicked in earlier than on previous strikes as RMT and TSSA members remain rock solid,” said an RMT spokesman.
Mike Brown, London Underground’s managing director, accused the unions of being “cynical” and pledged to do everything possible to keep London moving during the latest strike. Writing on his blog, which went live on LU’s intranet, he said the behaviour of the unions this week and during the current dispute “brings into question the motivation of some of those who claim their role is to protect their members”.
“This looks extremely cynical to me – the unions say they are concerned about safety; well, let’s take six weeks and sit down and look at each of these concerns. Instead, the union leaderships would rather have their members out on strike – a strike that they know is pointless,” he said.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: “It is incredible that LU management would not agree to a 12-week suspension of the cuts to allow a thorough safety evaluation on the impact on each station of their cuts plans. That shows complete and utter contempt for the safety of both their passengers and their staff. With more chaos as a result of infrastructure failures (on Monday) morning, adding to a month of misery, Londoners can see the real impact of the LU/TfL cuts plans for themselves and it is those very same safety-critical cuts that are at the heart of this dispute.”
Nick Winch, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said up to two-thirds of staff were late arriving for work or couldn’t get in at all during the last strike earlier this month, costing businesses up to £3,000.
Transport for London said: “We’ll run as many Tube services as we can, but some lines will have a restricted service and some stations will be closed.”