Strikes bring London’s transport system to a standstill

A person stands outside a closed Victoria Underground station in central London, Friday, August 19, 2022. AP

The latest walkout comes during a summer of industrial action across Britain, with workers in various sectors pushing for pay rises in line with decades-high inflation and the soaring cost of healthcare life.

A spokesperson for Transport for London, responsible for most of the capital’s network, told AFP there were ‘almost no tube (underground) services’ with just a few lines running with “very reduced services”.

Members of the transport workers’ union RMT, which represents the majority of the workforce, called Friday’s strike over job cuts, pension security, wages and changes to working practices .

Passengers outside the closed Blackhorse Road tube station expressed frustration at the long detours or expensive taxi journeys they would have to take.

“I’m not happy with this strike at all. I haven’t given much thought to what they were claiming. I’m more focused on how I’m going to get to work now,” said worker Arlene Morson. 52 years old. – former sales consultant.

“It happens almost every week now, something has gone wrong,” said Greg Skalski, a 43-year-old construction worker, adding that he had little sympathy given that train drivers earn above-average wages. mean.

French financier Joachim, 21, was more relaxed: “When I look at France and the number of strikes, here the metro closes one day and everyone is talking about it!”

The strike comes after nationwide railway strikes hit the majority of services on Thursday as union members rejected an offer of an 8% pay rise below inflation.

There will be more rail strikes nationwide on Saturday. The RMT declined to put an end date to the industrial action.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, an opposition Labor politician, told Sky News he did not support the strike but understood why transport workers were “frustrated and worried”, saying the government “should not punish hard-working transport workers”.

The government has taken a hard line on the strikes, promising not to participate in the talks.

Transport Minister Grant Shapps told Sky News ministers want to push through the modernization the RMT union opposes, including Sunday working.

He complained that unions were blocking a wage offer from Network Rail, which runs the rail network, that would raise wages by eight per cent over two years without consulting members.

Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer tweeted that “Shapps could solve these strikes by going around the table and doing his job.”

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