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COMMUTERS turned their fire on London Mayor Boris Johnson yesterday as transport unions shut down the capital’s entire Tube network.
Rail unions RMT, TSSA, Aslef and Unite called the 24-hour stoppage protesting against bosses’ plans to force them to work nights, with only a 2 per cent pay rise and a one-off lump sum as compensation.
The Underground’s deep level lines are set to start running through the night from September — but a rattled Mr Johnson hinted yesterday that the launch of the service could be delayed.
“I don’t particularly give a stuff about when it happens, it’s gotta happen,” he screeched.
Aslef organiser Finn Brennan said in a bulletin to members: “You will hear time and time again how much benefit the mayor’s plans will bring to London’s economy.
“Why is it wrong to say that those benefits should not come at the expense of the people who will work to deliver them?”
The London presided over a transport omnishambles as buses laid on to ease the strain were terminated early.
Signalling problems at London Bridge caused further disruptions and the London Overground, where staff were not on strike, was running with severe delays.
North London commuter Debra, who works in the Civil Service, was left waiting for two hours for a number 82 bus at Swiss Cottage station.
“Every year they increase fares but we’re just not getting the service,” she fumed, saying the mayor should “get his act together.”
Panicked bosses phoned up conciliation service Acas yesterday in an attempt to restart talks.
TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes called for bosses to “stop playing games.”
He said: “We are ready and willing to be at Acas tomorrow morning to sort this out.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash agreed. “We’ve wasted three months in negotiations that failed to address staff concerns and it’s essential for London that there’s no repeat and that puts the ball firmly in LU’s court.”
Articles in defence of the strike from Mr Brennan and First Great Western driver Sebastian Michnowicz went viral on social media, along with an impassioned defence of the right to strike from LBC radio host James O’Brien.
Meanwhile Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said his Facebook “like” for a status demanding striking workers be sacked was “made in error.”
What the commuters thought
Trishul - Accountant
It’s been a real hassle getting in this morning. Maybe there’s an option for the workers to only work nights when they want to? But I would sympathise if they’re being forced to work without increased pay or overtime.
Debra - Civil Service customer services officer
The strike has really put me out this morning, and I’ve been standing here for over two hours. But I guess I have some sympathy for anyone who goes on strike, because there must be a valid reason — I’ve been on strike. Boris Johnson needs to get his act together. He strikes me as someone who doesn’t have a bloody clue.
Anthony - Film director
Striking and, better still, general strikes are the best way to crack this corrupt system once and for all.
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