Londoners face new travel chaos on Friday as a strike by rail workers paralyzes the British capital’s transit network.
Another industrial action is slated for Saturday, expected to bring even more disruptions through the weekend.
Transportation workers are striking over pay increases to offset out-of-control energy prices and soaring food inflation — misery among households is the worst it has been in decades.
AP News reported London Underground workers are striking across the metro area, leaving a majority of Tube lines suspended with limited operations.
Around 10,000 Rail, Maritime, and Transport union (RMT) workers are taking part in the industrial action on Friday — over pay issues not keeping up with inflation.
Transportation disruptions are expected in southwest London and parts of Surrey on Friday. Then on Saturday, bus drivers who are members of Unite will stage a strike of their own, affecting sixty-three routes — creating even more travel pains.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch apologized to commuters for the strike but said it was necessary to defend the union’s members:
“We’re very sorry that people are inconvenienced. I mean, we’re inconveniencing people that are in the same boat as us. We’re ordinary men and women that want to do our jobs and provide a service, but when you’re being cut to pieces by an employer, and by the Government, you’ve got to make a stand.
“So we’re making that stand on behalf of our members, but many other workers in Britain are suffering some very similar things and you’re going to see a wave of this type of action. We can’t stand by and watch our conditions be chopped up. Otherwise, it’ll just be a race to the bottom for all British workers.
“If we’re not showing them that we’re being serious, they will just chop up members terms and conditions and their pensions. If we’re not invited to negotiations, what other means can we have to influence those negotiations?
“So we’ve got to show them that we’re deadly serious about the future of the services across all of Transport for London (TfL), but also across our members’ conditions, because we don’t know what they’re discussing.
“It’s like being locked out of a process that we should rightly be at the table, and that’s not acceptable to any of the unions, or London Underground or TfL. And it’s got to be resolved.”
Meanwhile, Liz Truss, a right-wing politician of the Conservative Party, who is currently a favorite to become Britain’s next prime minister, tweeted, “As Prime Minister, I will not let our country be held to ransom by militant trade unionists.”
As Prime Minister, I will not let our country be held to ransom by militant trade unionists.
— Liz for Leader (@trussliz) August 19, 2022
Many Londoners complained about “selfish” unions inflicting pain on others trying to get to work or travel across the city.
The industrial action comes amid a souring macroeconomic backdrop that sent inflation to a four-decade high last month to 10.1%. Consumer confidence plunged to a record low in August as household misery worsened.
Another strike could develop this winter, though much different than transportation union workers walking off the job. Tens of thousands are joining a movement not to pay their energy bills starting on October 1.