Once again, millions of Londoners are suffering travel chaos after the unions convinced London Underground staff to strike.
The strike has been called in response to plans for weekend all-night running on some Tube lines. Those plans involve staff getting a two per cent pay rise and bonuses on top worth hundreds of pounds.
Even though this offer is better than that accepted by Network Rail staff last month, the unions have told their members that it’s “derisory” and “next to nothing”. The Aslef union has even promised its members that their strike action is admired by “hundreds or thousands of hard working people”.
The truth is that if London is to keep its status as a global capital, we need an efficient and demand-led underground service.
New York and Berlin have all-night metros, and now it’s time that we did. But the unions have responded to modernisation by calling for a strike.
They did it last year, too, when TfL wanted to make changes including the closure of ticket offices, so staff could step out from behind glass and help customers face-to-face.
Back then, the RMT union claimed that these plans would “destroy the safety regime on the Tube network” and “wreck the quality of service to passengers”. But the union was crying wolf.
Since the changes were introduced, they’ve been embraced and welcomed by both staff and passengers, and are regarded as a positive innovation to travel in London.
The offer that has triggered today’s strike would be on top of starting salaries for tube drivers of £49,673; more than many pilots and doctors, for whom night working is part of the job.
In Paris, Tokyo, Barcelona and Dubai they’ve had driverless trains for years, and unnecessary strikes such as the one we’re experiencing today do little to halt increasing demand for similar services to be introduced in London too.