London brought to a standstill as tube strike closes entire network and RMT lock horns with Sadiq Khan
A strike by London Underground drivers has closed the entire network.
Transport for London’s website shows no services are running on any Tube lines.
The Docklands Light Railway and Elizabeth line are part-suspended because of the industrial action.
Drivers in Aslef and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) walked out in a dispute over pensions and conditions.
Last night and this morning, the RMT directed its anger toward London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the government for not properly funding the network, and trying to change pensions.
RMT locks horns with Mayor Sadiq Khan
Last night in his letter to the London Mayor, RMT general secretary Mick Lynch wrote: “In January, I wrote to you raising my serious concerns about the safety consequences of these cuts. Because they are now so short-staffed, managers appear to be mis-using waivers in order to override agreed minimum safe staffing levels at Tube stations.
“I urge you once again to act on this understanding and rule out the implementation of detrimental pension changes to the TfL pension.
Lynch concludes the letter by urging Mayor Khan to “change course and reverse the managed decline of London Underground.”
Spokesperson for the Mayor hit back, saying “no one wants to see strikes and the disruption across the country this week is particularly bad news for many of the capital’s businesses who are struggling with inflation and the cost of doing business.
The Mayor has repeatedly made clear that the Government’s insistence on including a review into pension reform as part of the emergency funding deal for TfL was unwarranted and had the potential to lead to this kind of industrial action.
“TfL has done everything within its power to avoid strikes going ahead on the Tube and will keep working with unions to avoid further action.
“Ensuring London’s transport network is appropriately staffed is a key part of delivering services safely. We take any concerns about safety extremely seriously and the Mayor is working with TfL to understand the RMT’s claims.”
In a statement posted this morning, the RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: “I congratulate all our London Underground members who have taken part in this strike action today.
“It shows how determined we are to reach a negotiated settlement to this long running dispute.
“Attacks on pensions, conditions and job losses will not be tolerated and the travelling public needs to understand that understaffed and unstaffed stations are unsafe.
“We will continue our industrial campaign for as long as it takes.”
Aslef also striking
Aslef district organiser Finn Brennan told LBC: “This is actually the first time Aslef have taken action across the Underground since 2015.
“It comes after our members voted by 99% in favour of the strike.
“It is not a strike about pay, it is not a strike looking for more time off.
“We simply want TfL to commit to negotiate with us about changes instead of trying to impose changes.
“There is a huge hole in TfL’s budget as a result of the pandemic and they want to fill that by cutting staff numbers, cutting working conditions and crucially cutting staff pensions.
“We have always said we are prepared to negotiate change but, quite understandably and quite rightly, our members are not prepared to pay the price for the hole that has been left in TfL’s budget by the Government’s failure to properly fund public transport in London.”
He added that further strikes are “very likely”.
What are the impact of strikes?
Hospitality bosses have warned the impact of the strikes will hit pubs, bars and restaurants hard, with an estimated £2.5bn having already been lost in sales since industrial action started last year.
In January, hospitality leaders warned of the “damaging” impact of strikes to the sector, calling it “entirely avoidable” harm.
Pubs, bars and restaurants are estimated to £2.5bn from the strike action, as many city workers decide to stay at home instead of braving disrupted services, and going to the pub after work.
Hospitality bosses have struggled in the last 12 months due to the impact of the cost of living crisis. The soaring cost of energy, as well as some staples such as grain, barley and wheat in part due to the war in Ukraine, has pushed the average cost of a pint to £7.
UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: “The strikes taking place next week will heap yet further disruption on hospitality, which has already suffered to the tune of £2.5 billion in lost sales as a result of this ongoing dispute.
“It’s essential that all sides continue negotiations as a matter of urgency and reach a resolution that avoids even more disruption that impacts workers, consumers and businesses.”
Pub bosses have appealed for help in the Spring Budget in Wednesday – a strike day – or they risk not “saying afloat”.
In January Tim Martin, the boss of JD Wetherspoon called on the government to give more help to pubs, calling out the “vast disparity” in treatment of pubs to other businesses when it comes to VAT.
Brits have stopped going out as much as soaring inflation forces them to be more savvy with their cash, meaning the industry is being hit hard from cost pressures in both supply and demand sides.
Alternatives to the tube
With the London Underground out of action, millions of Londoners have had to look at alternative methods to get to work.
Geolocation technology company TomTom said at 7am the average time it took to drive 10km (6.2 miles) in London was two minutes longer than what is usual at that time, at 15 minutes and 27 seconds.
There were 387 traffic jams in the capital stretching for a total of 406km (252.3 miles).
Transport for London told City A.M. that up until 8am this morning there have been 0.68m bus journeys across London – up 1 per cent compared to the same period last Wednesday.
Private hire services like Uber and Bolt raise their prices during tube strike days due to increased demand.
The Uber app says there is a “slight fare increase” due to the strikes.
Let us know how the strikes are affecting you. Reach out on social media @CityAM.
Who else is on strike today?
It’s not just underground workers who are walking out.
Civil servants at 123 govt departments and agencies are on strike, in addition to 300,000 teachers 70,000 university staff 50,000 junior doctors, Amazon workers in Coventry, and BBC radio journalists.
There are also 10,000 workers with the prospect union.
Mark Serwotka of the public services union PCS warned there would be a ““significant escalation” of strike action if there was no movement on pay for civil servants.
He told Sky News this morning the government is treating public sector workers “worse than anyone else” with the lowest pay rise offer out of everyone at two per cent.