Many London roads were gridlocked today, Monday, as a Tube station workers’ 24-hour strike over staffing and safety hit hard. It closed dozens of stations and led to severe disruption on virtually every line.
All the key interchange stations had no Tube service. Long queues for buses were seen everywhere.
Other rail services were overwhelmed. Clapham Junction had to be evacuated due to overcrowding.
On the Victoria and Piccadilly lines Tube drivers refused to run trains and cross picket lines. The drivers highlighted the unsafe conditions without proper staffing in stations.
One Brixton station worker said it was “reasonable” for the drivers to refuse to drive trains. “If anything goes wrong on the train the drivers expect station staff to come on and help.
“If something happens in a tunnel the drivers need the station workers’ local knowledge of the ways to go and any hazards there might be. What they’ve done is reasonable and in line with safety.”
The 24-hour strike by RMT and TSSA union members is over the impact of nearly 900 job cuts on stations and the closure of all ticket offices.
“In every station now it’s minimum staffing numbers,” RMT rep Phil told Socialist Worker. “It means the safety of staff and passengers is being put in jeopardy by the bosses.
“Other staff that are getting employed are on less money and not getting safety critical training they should be getting. They’re not allowed to go on platforms and deal with any incident that may occur.
“Bosses said they were offering an additional 500 jobs, however there are already 450 vacancies, so really they’re offering 50 jobs and they are on the lower grade that is not safety critical.”
Labour’s Sadiq Khan said, “"I, the Mayor of London, condemn these strikes, they are completely unnecessary." He said the strike was “causing misery to millions of Londoners” but he is in charge of Transport for London (TfL) and could easily sort the mess out.
As chair of TfL Khan could argue to fund the jobs needed to ensure safer conditions for passengers.
RMT also hit back at TfL for peddling “dangerous lies”.
General secretary Mick Cash said, “It does no one any favours for TfL to openly lie about how many Tube services are running. It just piles more people into stations that are already dangerously overcrowded and ramps up the risk of a major crushing incident.”
Phil said, “The strike really needs to be escalated and new dates called as soon as possible if management won’t budge. Instead of just 24 hours these need to be 48 or 72 hour strikes and, where possible, coordination with our sister union Aslef who are engaged in fight for safety with us on Southern.”