A tourist reads a notice posted at the closed gates of an
underground station during the tube strike in London. Photo
London commuters crammed onto trains and buses as the
second day of a strike by Underground train workers halved the
level of services across the city, with unions accusing
transport bosses of endangering the safety of the public.
The walk-out that started on Monday evening (local time) is
the second two-day strike this year and the Rail, Maritime
and Transport (RMT) union is threatening a further three-day
walk-out next week over plans to cut 250 ticket offices and
But conciliation service ACAS said in a statement that talks
aimed at resolving the dispute would be held on Friday with
commuters hopeful the second walk-out would be suspended as
was the case after a two-day strike in February.
The dispute is over a restructuring that Transport for London
(TfL), which runs the city's transport network, says could
save 50 million pounds ($84 million) a year as most
passengers now use electronic ticket cards but the union
argues that the cuts will impact safety and the quality of
This week's strike, however, failed to stop many of the 3
million commuters using the Tube daily from getting to work,
with TfL saying limited services were running on nearly all
11 lines and extra buses were on duty.
But as commuters posted photos of crowded stations, RMT
bosses accused TfL of misleading the public over the level of
services available and endangering the public with
overcrowding trains and platforms.
"It helps no one ... to deliberately mislead the public as to
what services are available as it simply piles dangerous
levels of pressure onto the ghost trains and skeleton
operations, leaving passengers and staff at risk," said RMT
acting general secretary Mick Cash.
London Underground's managing director Mike Brown said the
level of services was at about 50 percent capacity compared
to 40 percent during the last strike in February.
He said 90 percent of the electronic Oyster travel cards that
would normally be used on the network were used on Tuesday
and two thirds of the city's 274 stations were open.
The walk-out this week only involves the RMT union with three
other unions representing rail workers not involved, having
accepted a promise of no forced redundancies and that no
supervisors would have to reapply for their own job.
Brown urged the RMT to call off further action, saying TfL
had already agreed there would be no compulsory redundancies
and that safety would not suffer when ticket offices closed,
with staff remaining on duty in stations and in control
The Federation of Small Businesses estimated that February's
two-day strike cost small businesses, which make up about 99
percent of London companies, about 600 million pounds in lost
working hours, business and productivity.
Some politicians and trade union experts said the RMT action
was as much political as anything as union leaders compete to
establish their militant credentials in the race to succeed
former RMT leader Bob Crow, who died suddenly in March.