A commuter rides a bike through the traffic in the City during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope in Thursday's morning rush hour as commuters battled into work in the face of London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL
A commuter rides a bike through the traffic in the City during a tube strike in London on July 9, 2015. London's roads, buses and overland trains struggled to cope in Thursday's morning rush hour as commuters battled into work in the face of London Underground's first strike shutdown since 2002. AFP PHOTO / BEN STANSALL

Like Mumbai,  a strike by London Underground rail services hits peak hour commuters

London : A strike across the London Underground rail network brought the city to a virtual standstill as commuters struggled to get to work Thursday morning.

 Tube services were halted last night after a walkout by Underground staff over pay and conditions and they will not resume until Friday morning. The dispute centres on the launch of night services on some of the tube lines from September.

The strike caused misery, with some journeys taking as much as four times longer as people resorted to cycling, walking and in some cases using over-packed buses. Taxi firm Uber has been criticised for increasing its prices by almost 300 per cent to cash in on the chaos.

London’s Mayor Boris Johnson has said the strike was “totally unnecessary” and was causing huge disruption to Londoners and to businesses. London Underground said it had received no response to the latest “fair and competitive” pay offer made to unions on Monday, urging that it be put to workers. Mike Brown, managing director of London Underground, said “I am very sorry your journey has been disrupted. This strike is unnecessary”.

However, unions say the 24-hour tube service due to begin in September will wreck work-life balance for its staff.                 Business groups said the strike will cost the British capital’s economy tens of millions of pounds.

Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) and Unite are the unions who walked out in the 24-hour action.

RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said “The strike action on London Underground is rock solid across all lines. That means an end to the attempt to bulldoze through new working patterns”. On Monday, members of all four unions rejected a “final” pay offer from LU which included a 2 per cent rise this year and 2,000 pounds for drivers on the weekend night tube service.                The typical salary for a Tube driver is 50,000 pounds a year, the RMT said, but the unions maintain the new plans would be disruptive to their members’ lives. They claim some employees are concerned they will have to work more overnight shifts and may have to work on their own at some stations.

The disputed weekend night services are set to begin on September 12 this year on sections of the Central, Jubilee, Northern, Piccadilly and Victoria lines.

Aditi Khanna

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