Strikes over pay bring London’s transport network to a standstill

Transport for London (TFL) said all London Underground and Overground rail lines were suspended or partially suspended and dozens of bus routes in the west of the city were disrupted.

Tens of thousands of workers walked out of the UK’s national rail network on Thursday and will do so again on Saturday.

Commuters across the country have already been disrupted by rail strikes this year organized by unions to demand pay and conditions for their members that better reflect the rising cost of living caused by fuel price-driven inflation.

Data showed inflation was 10.1% in July, the highest since February 1982, as rising energy costs as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine hit consumers directly through their household bills and indirectly through rising food prices.

That has led to a crisis between firms that say rising costs and falling demand limit their room for negotiation, unions that say their workers can’t afford to live, and the government, which worries that big wage increases could fuel inflation.

“We don’t want to be in the vicious circle of the 1970s, where you have wages going up, inflation going up and so on. You never get out of it,” Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC.

The RMT said the underground strike was in response to a lack of promises about jobs and pensions from TfL. In a letter to the shops, the union accused them of waging an ideological war against rail workers.

TfL itself has been in protracted talks with the government since the end of an emergency state funding deal, made necessary in part by the post-pandemic slump in passengers.

Workers in other British industries are planning future strikes or heading for industrial action. These include port workers, lawyers, teachers, nurses, firefighters and waste collection, airport and postal workers.

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