Many stations, especially those in the heart of London, will be closed on Monday. This could cause heartburn for commuters needing to get back to the office after a long holiday weekend and chaos for holiday travellers in town to enjoy the pomp and circumstance of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations
Londoners entranced all weekend by the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations may wake up to a rude shock on Monday morning with workers of the London Underground, also known as the Tube, set for a 24-hour strike on Monday.
Here’s everything you need to know about the impending crisis:
Who is going on strike?
Thousands of members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union are set to walk out of their jobs on Monday.
But as per the BBC, RMT Tube station staff will also carry out action short of a strike – no working on overtime or days of rest – from Friday itself, which may impact some journeys.
Why are workers striking?
The usual reasons – jobs, money and working conditions.
Railway staff are caught between soaring inflation and frozen pay since 2020 – though London Underground workers did get an 8.4 per cent rise recently – and a government looking to cut costs by around 10 per cent, as per The BBC.
Network Rail, the State-owned company that runs the infrastructure, believes it can save more than £100m a year through workplace reform.
That includes changing its maintenance regime to a “risk-based” assessment and using more technology, rather than having so many boots on the ground.
Using more technology and keeping less workers on the payroll.
Unions also worry about train companies closing ticketing offices and pay not being able to match inflation. They also argue that those hailed for working on the frontlines during the pandemic at great personal risk should not lose jobs or face pay cuts.
But that’s easier said than done.
As per The Guardian, the pandemic did a real number on rail finances. Prior to 2020, taxpayers subsidised industry to the tune of around £4billion per year.
But since COVID-19 hit, the treasury has doled out around 15 £billion, as per the report.
While passenger numbers have returned to around 80 per cent of pre-COVID levels, the revenues are significantly lower than key areas.
What could be the impact?
As per the BBC, Transport for London (TfL) said many stations, especially those in the centre of London, will be closed from start of service on Monday till 8 am on Tuesday.
This could cause chaos and heartburn for those who will need to get back to the office after a long holiday weekend.
Then there’s the thousands of tourists who flocked to London to catch a glimpse of the pomp and circumstance.
What do authorities say?
Sadiq Khan told the BBC said he was “pleased the RMT are open to talks” over the industrial action which would see 4,000 staff walk out.
A spokesperson said: “The mayor urges the RMT to call off this strike action which will have a serious impact on London’s businesses and commuters, at a time when we are working to get more passengers back on to the network and boost the capital’s economic recovery.”
TfL said the entire network would be affected by Monday’s action, and urged people to consider working from home and to “not to take [their frustration] out on those who are trying to help”.
Andy Lord, TfL’s chief operating officer, said: “We haven’t proposed any changes to pensions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out.
“We know our customers deserve better than this and that is why we’re urging the RMT to call off this action and work with us to find a resolution to this dispute, which is threatening London’s recovery from the pandemic.”
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