After a massive public transport strike nearly three months ago over wages, a new London Underground strike has been called by several unions who oppose a plan to cut costs at Transport for London (TfL), the public transport management company for Greater London, affected millions of users on Thursday, November 10.
The oldest metro in the world was almost completely paralyzed on Thursday morning, with most lines completely at a standstill and some with very reduced service. Only the very young Elizabeth Line, inaugurated last May, was operating normally, with only a few stations closed in the heart of the capital.
The London Underground normally carries up to five million passengers a day, but has been rocked by several strikes in recent months. While some Londoners have opted for telework, the practice of which has spread widely since the Covid-19 pandemic, many have fallen back on the bike, the car but also the buses – many of them were crowded Thursday.
Pensions and wages under attack
The national union RMT (Rail, Maritime and Transport), which has called for a strike, is opposed in particular to the elimination of 600 jobs in metro stations and to a project by TfL to modify its financing of the retirement pensions of officers, according to a statement. Weighed down by the pandemic, TfL concluded a financing agreement with the government at the end of August, which does not however meet the needs of the public operator.
“These attacks [du statut des salariés] are deeply unfair and completely unnecessary”, believes the union, which claims to have made proposals to suspend the strike which were rejected by TfL. According to Sharon Graham, general secretary of the Unite union, who also called for the strike, ‘TfL is unnecessarily attacking our members’ pensions and salaries, which Unite simply cannot accept’she said in a statement.
“No proposal to change the pension system or the conditions has been made”assured Glynn Barton, a TfL official, in a statement on Tuesday after the failure of negotiations with the unions.
This strike also comes at a time when the United Kingdom is experiencing a proliferation of social movements in a context of record inflation and a crisis in the cost of living. On Wednesday, nurses voted for an unprecedented national strike to demand better wages.
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