Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Mayor and unions under fire as tube strikes cause chaos

Mayor and unions under fire as tube strikes cause chaos

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Commuters queue for bus replacement services at London Bridge - PIC: SWNS

Sadiq Khan was accused of breaking his promise to stop strikes on the transport system today as industrial action led to travel chaos for tens of thousands of commuters.

Hundreds of passengers queued for buses outside Victoria station this morning as tube staff went on strike over jobs and ticket office closures.

There was no Underground service at all in central London with lengthy delays across the network.

Transport for London said eight of its 11 lines were running partial services as staff struggled to cope with the disruption.

Police officers were on hand to keep the peace while special TfL response teams helped commuters work out the best way to get to work.

The RMT and TSSA unions launched the 24-hour strike on Sunday evening after a breakdown in talks last week.

Gareth Bacon, leader of the London Assembly’s Conservative group, said passengers were paying the price for Mr Khan’s failure to prevent industrial action.

He said: “Sadiq Khan’s ‘zero strikes’ promise is just like all the others – not worth the paper it is written on.

“Like all Labour politicians, he’s powerless while in the pocket of his union paymasters.

“His manifesto already reads like a litany of broken promises and it is ordinary working Londoners who are paying the price.”

The mayor made a last-ditch appeal to the unions to back out of the strikes over the weekend.

He described the strikes as “pointless” and urged them to get back to the negotiating table.

He added: “This historic dispute has nothing to do with the millions of Londoners this strike is punishing.”

Furious commuters turned their scorn on the unions this morning as disruption looked set to last through until 6pm this evening.

Property worker Tracey Hughes, 47, said: “This is appalling, it’s ridiculous, it’s like being in a third world country. I’m absolutely fuming.

“We pay the highest price in Europe for commuting and we get this. Are we trying to put people off from working here? Because that’s what we’re doing.

“It normally takes me about half an hour to get from home in Clapham to work in Marble Arch.

“I say enough is enough, I’d like to see everyone on strike come here and see what they’ve done.”

A nurse at Royal Brompton hospital said she felt “no sympathy” for the RMT.

The 36-year-old nurse, who did not want to be named, said: “I left home at 7am, normally I get to South Kensington in about half an hour but there are no trains.

“I have no sympathy at all for the RMT, I’ve got no idea how I’m getting to work and all of this could have easily been avoided around a table. It’s a shambles.”

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said: “Our members are out in force across London Underground this morning in the fight for jobs and safety. The strike action is being solidly supported on every line, at every station and on picket lines across the Tube network.

“This action has been forced on us by savage cuts to jobs that have reduced London Underground to an under-staffed death trap at a time of heightened security and safety alert.

“The solution is in the hands of the mayor and his officials. They need to come up with serious and urgent plans designed to address the core issues at the heart of this dispute and a schedule for staffing back up on the stations to a level our reps believe is safe and sustainable.”

TSSA General Secretary Manuel Cortes added: “Our reps have decided to go ahead with our 24-hour strike action. Whilst they accept the offer of more staff is a step in the right direction to restoring tube safety standards, they do not believe the offer will return those standards with the urgency that is now needed. We remain committed to taking part in further talks to seek a resolution to this dispute.”

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Mayor and unions under fire as tube strikes cause chaos