The unions for the London Underground train drivers have called a day-long strike across the city. Drivers are upset over wages and a new plan to extend Tube service through the night.
Millions of London's workers struggled to get to work Thursday morning after the British capital's underground train drivers began a day-long strike the night before. The drivers are protesting low pay as well as plans to provide round-the-clock train service beginning in September.
The London Underground's managers announced that no trains would run for 24 hours, although they would be providing extra bus and river services alongside extra bicycle rental hubs. Commuters had rushed home in droves before the strike began at 6:30 pm on Wednesday evening.
Those who usually made their way to work via the "Tube" were forced to walk, cycle, take taxis or cram on the crowded buses on Thursday as members of four transport unions staged the walkout.
So that spectators could reach the Wimbledon tennis tournament, which ends this weekend, Transport for London (TfL) announced that it would be organizing a taxi-sharing service from the train station nearest the tennis grounds.
'Unacceptable and unjustified'
"We're very clear that it's unacceptable and unjustified. It's going to hit families, workers, businesses across the capital," said a spokeswoman for Prime Minister David Cameron.
His sentiment was echoed by the city's mayor, Boris Johnson, who tweeted: "Tube strike politically motivated - union bosses need to explain why they refuse to put new offer to members – disgraceful - call it off!"
The latest offer, which was rejected by unions on Wednesday, offered an average 2 percent pay raise this year, inflation-linked rises over the next two years, alongside a 2,000 pound ($3,078) bonus for every driver on the new overnight service.
Mike Brown, the managing director of the London Underground, has argued that the all-night service would boost jobs and stimulate the city's economy. However, one union leader accused the managers of playing "foolish games of brinkmanship."
TfL has warned that the strike could continue into Friday if the union leaders call for it.
es/jil (AFP, Reuters)