London Underground Strike Inconveniences Millions of Commuters

Tuesday, 29 Apr 2014 11:26 AM

By Michael Mullins

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An underground London strike over job cuts and the closure of ticket offices has forced millions of commuters to find alternative means of travel this week. The union protest is reportedly expected to cost the city millions of pounds.

The strike, which began at 9 p.m. local time Monday night, is the second 48-hour strike called by the Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) this year. The walkout occurred after talks between union bosses and the public metro system management broke down earlier in the month, Agence France-Presse reported.

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In addition to reduced service on London's subway line, the strike will also result in limited service on nine out of 11 bus lines, according to Reuters. Some three million people depend on the transportation service on a daily basis to get to work.

The inconvenience to London commuters led British Prime Minister David Cameron to express his outrage on Twitter earlier this week.

"It's unacceptable that millions of people are having their lives disrupted by today's Tube strike in London," he tweeted.

The walk-out comes ahead of a planned three-day strike next week due to the London Underground's decision to close approximately 250 ticket offices across the city, which will reportedly lead to some 950 jobs being cut.

According to Transport for London, the government body responsible for the majority of the transportation system in and around the city, the restructuring effort would have allowed the city to save about 50 million pounds per year, Reuters noted.

Characterizing the closures as a sign of modernization, Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said the unions are on the wrong side of the issue.

"The RMT must accept that the Underground is not exempt from the need to increase efficiency and promote value for money for taxpayers and customers," Walker said in a statement.

Not surprisingly, Mick Cash, RMT's acting general secretary, has an opposing view.

"London Underground have dug themselves into an entrenched position and have refused to move one inch from their stance of closing every ticket office," he said.

"Despite the spin from LU nothing that they are proposing is about 'modernization,'" Cash continued. "The current plans, closing every ticket office and axing nearly a thousand safety-critical jobs, is solely about massive austerity cuts driven centrally by David Cameron and his government and implemented by Mayor Boris Johnson."

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