London tube strike enters second day

By Press TV

London Underground workers began the first in a series of industrial actions on February 4, 2014.
London Underground workers began the first in a series of industrial actions on February 4, 2014.

Londoners are facing yet another day of travel chaos as a 48-hour strike by tube workers continues.

London Underground workers began the first in a series of industrial actions late on Tuesday, over controversial plans to close ticket offices and scrap hundreds of jobs in the capital.

Services return to normal later on Thursday but another 48-hour strike is planned for the next week.

Talks between members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staff Association (TSSA) in one side and Transport for London (TfL) on the other side are due to resume on Friday in a bid to avert the second walkout.

“Our negotiators are geared up and ready to enter the exploratory talks on Friday,” said RMT General Secretary Bob Crow.

“In the meantime the current action continues with the rock solid support of our members and we will be back out on the picket lines early tomorrow morning as the strike heads into its third day,” he added.

Meanwhile, London Mayor Boris Johnson has agreed to meet union leaders on Friday. He had earlier refused to meet unless unions called off the industrial action.

The strikes are in protest against major changes to the tube announced by Johnson and the TfL in November last year.

Under the new plans, aimed at saving about £50 million a year, more than 750 people will lose their jobs, all 260 tube ticket offices across the network will be closed, and a new 24-hour service will be running at weekends.


The Mayor Is To Blame For Tube Strike

Morning Star Editorial

Johnson and fellow Bullingdon Club member David Cameron have a problem with working people

London Underground passengers understand where the blame lies for their inconvenience during the current strike and it’s not with the unions.

Two-thirds of those polled are not only perturbed by the prospect of a reduction in station staff and ticket offices but also believe that industrial action against Mayor Boris Johnson’s plans is justified.

Tory efforts to paint the strikers and their unions as irresponsible don’t sit well alongside the heroic example shown by such staff during the 2005 terrorist bombings of London’s transport system.

Johnson and fellow Bullingdon Club member David Cameron have a problem with working people and their union representatives.

They confuse them with their family servants and cannot understand why orders peremptorily issued are not carried out unquestioningly with a simpering grin.

So when RMT and TSSA react to their members’ anger by balloting for strikes and authorising such action after the mayor’s Transport for London people refuse to negotiate, all that Johnson and Cameron can do is scream foul.

Cameron demanded that Ed Miliband condemn the Tube strike, which to his credit he refused to do.

The Labour leader’s declaration that there should have been a negotiated solution is entirely correct and the only obstacle to a reasonable compromise has been the mayor’s instruction to his “negotiators” not to budge an inch from his “close them all down” diktat.

What did the Prime Minister hope to gain from his “condemn the strike” demand to Miliband?

Even had he done so, this would not have advanced progress towards a solution one iota because workers have grown used to politicians showing little understanding of the conditions under which they operate.

Parliamentary front-bench unity in condemnation of workers in struggle would have confirmed for many the gap between rulers and ruled.

Tony Blair boasted after retaining most Tory anti-union laws that legislation in Britain under new Labour remained the “most restrictive” in the western world, but it’s never enough for the Tories.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles suggested that it might be necessary to classify the Underground as an essential service and require maintenance of a minimum level of service as a means of outlawing democratic workplace rights.

Johnson noted that, although 76 per cent of RMT members who voted backed strike action, the turnout had been 40 per cent, equating to just 31 per cent of the electorate.

With TSSA, it was 58 per cent in favour on a 49 per cent turnout, working out as 29 per cent of those entitled to take part.

He should appreciate that his re-election as London mayor was with 44 per cent of those voting in a 38 per cent turnout, adding up to just 17 per cent of Londoners eligible to vote.

If Bob Crow and Manuel Cortes have no democratic mandate for their actions, the same applies in spades to Boris Johnson.

Instead of flying kites about the possibility of moving the goalposts to make it legally impossible for trade unionists to challenge ill-thought-through demands by their employers, the mayor should be looking for a way to bring this dispute to an end.

Four million people use the London Underground every day. It is vital for Londoners but also for visitors to and from across Britain.

The mayor has a duty to listen as well as to speak. He should suspend his ultimatum and tell his staff to work with the unions instead of against them.

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