Tube workers' strike delays millions of London commuters
Some 11,000 members of London's underground rail network went on strike Wednesday in protest at job cuts, prompting long commuting delays affecting millions of travellers. BBC journalists and London firefighters are set to strike later this week.
AFP - A fresh strike by thousands of staff on London's Underground rail network prompted many commuters to stay at home Wednesday, while millions of others faced long delays to get to work.
Some 11,000 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers' Union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) were taking industrial action in protest at job cuts on the network.
Officials said more than 40 percent of trains were running, although many are not stopping at certain stations. Picket lines have been set up at more than 100 stations and depots.
The latest wave of strikes, which started late Tuesday, came following earlier action in September and October in protest at plans to axe 800 jobs, mainly in ticket offices.
London Mayor Boris Johnson insisted that the strike on the underground -- also known as the Tube -- was pointless.
"Londoners have shown that they will not be deterred from their daily business by these pointless strikes," he said.
"The action of the union leaderships may cause some inconvenience but we are determined to keep the capital moving by providing a plethora of alternatives so that people can get around."
But RMT general secretary Bob Crow said the action was about "safety and safe staffing levels".
"We have had a clear choice -- accept the cuts and wait for a disaster or stand up and fight for a safe and secure Tube system," he added.
The RMT -- which says up to 2,000 jobs or 10 percent of the workforce could eventually go -- has also highlighted how the actions of Underground workers were last week praised at an inquest into the July 2005 bombings on London's transport system.
The planned job cuts come amid an austerity drive in Britain, where Prime Minister David Cameron's coalition government last month announced average spending cuts of 19 percent across most departments.
BBC journalists and London firefighters are both set to stage strikes Friday and Saturday, while firefighters also held an eight-hour walk-out Monday.