In London, England, transit workers of the Underground have initiated a full strike crippling the transit system. The tactic has slowed down services and led to the suspension of many trains. The gesture was a protest on behalf of the labor union who dissented from the capital city’s mayor Boris Johnson’s plans to cut jobs. Despite repeated solicitations to reconsider, Johnson would not budge.
The bustling metropolis has been thrown in to a temporary period of chaos. Residents and tourists alike are experiencing long queues and extensive delays. Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the actions of Bob Crow, who is the leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. Crow is the prime mover in the tube strike. “The strike is shameful” tweeted the United Kingdom’s prime minister. Cameron further elaborated that millions should not have to suffer for the failed negotiations between the Crow and Johnson. Crow and Johnson have been long-time adversaries, battling over labor issues on live telecasts and radio shows.
Despite, the unified appearance of the Underground workers, many do not condone the strike. The numerous British transit workers who do not support the actions of their industrial union have become a subject of discussion. United Kingdom labor leaders, cooperating with Johnson, hope to reform strike laws. Rumors have circulated that many of those who voted for a strike may have been coerced into doing so. The actions taken by Crow along with the reluctance of many workers, have been a strong foundation to platform.
On Thursday, both sides will reconvene and attempt to reach a collective bargaining agreement. Mayor Boris Johnson would like to stick to his initial plan. For the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, they would like to see assurances that job security will not be a future uncertainty. The mayor’s office and city council have every inclination to continue job cuts and to close ticket offices. Doing so will free up £50 million in revenue per year.
For now, many of London’s Underground stations have been closed due to the crippling strike. One of the busiest junctions in London, Victoria Station, had suspended services earlier in the day. Citizens have reported that traditional commute times have multiplied exponentially. Many were forced to walk great distances, traveling to the farthest reach of limited branches aboard packed trains.
Over 100 additional buses have been deployed to ease the impact of the tube strike. The strike’s duration is unknown. Some state is only to last forty-eight hours, while others say it is set to last through next week. Regardless, many government officials have pleaded for the strike to be brought to an end immediately. One thousand of the transit workers affected by the strike, have volunteered to be “strike ambassadors”. Essentially, these laborers are now aiding Londoners and performing their contracted tasks for no wage.
Unfortunately when conflict emerges among bureaucracies and administrations, the average commoner always suffers. On February 5, 2014, the eight million residents who inhabit the English capital were victims of another administrative scuffle. Negotiations may stifle and tempers may flare. It is imperative that a compromise is met and services resume promptly. Until Thursday, the people of London will watch on, taking a collective breath when the Underground crippling strike comes to an end.
Commentary By Keith Fuchs