Union boss Bob Crow has heralded striking public transport workers for bringing a city to a standstill.
The RMT general secretary was addressing workers at a rally on Tyneside, where tens of thousands of commuters were left in the lurch when the Metro rail system was closed.
Passengers had taken to their cars and bicycles instead, bringing gridlock to rush hour traffic into Newcastle city centre.
Steel shutters closed entrances to Metro stations throughout the region as strikers stayed away.
Service bosses at Nexus, which runs the light railway, warned the strike could lead to disruption to services until Thursday morning.
Mr Crow told a cheering crowd of about 8,500 at Spillars Wharf on the Newcastle quayside: "Brothers and sisters, I want to salute you.
"There is not a thing moving on the Metro today or on the Tyne.
"This Government wants to shift the balance of blame from the people that caused the austerity to the working man and woman.
"But it is the bankers and the bosses who have gambled with our country's future and you should not have to tolerate a worse pension and be forced to work longer to make up for their mistakes."
He criticised Labour leader Ed Miliband who he said had failed to stand "shoulder to shoulder" with the strikers.