UK

Tube Strike Misery As Drivers Are 'Sick To The Back Teeth Of Being Treated Aggressively'

22/08/2014 11:44 BST | Updated 22/08/2014 12:59 BST
Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
File photo dated 29/04/14 of people queuing outside Oxford Circus underground station, in central London, during the 48 hour strike by RMT union members as fresh talks aimed at averting a new round of strikes by London Underground workers will be held today, with little sign of a breakthrough in a bitter row over ticket office closures.

Almost a million commuters and visitors to London face travel misery on Friday because of a last minute strike by Tube drivers on two lines, including the city's busiest.

Delayed travellers vented their fury on striking workers for being "a public nuisance" as services on the Waterloo and City Line were completely axed, while the Central Line also faced partial closure as train drivers took action over what their union described as an “increasingly bullying” management style.

London Underground has warned that services on the two lines, used by almost a million passengers a day, will be "severely disrupted" by the 24-hour walkout by members of the Aslef union.

The Central line is suspended between Leytonstone and White City, with only shuttle services on its suburban sections.

The dispute is over an “increasingly heavy-handed” approach to staff, Aslef said, stating members were “sick to the back teeth of being treated aggressively”.

Aslef said 90% of the 240 Central line drivers balloted backed a walkout over London Underground’s “failure to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve”.

Mr Brennan, from the union which represents train drivers, said the managers of Central Line drivers "used a big stick" to run the department.

"Our members will not tolerate a situation where vulnerable people leave sickness review meetings in tears and drivers with years of good and long service are threatened with disciplinary action for a delay of 33 seconds in leaving a terminus," he said.

Transport For London (TfL) said it had deployed extra buses on key routes and that TfL “ambassadors” and volunteers were helping customers with travel information at key Underground and bus stations.

But many took to Twitter to bemoan their travel chaos:

The disruption follows four weeks of talks between unions and London Underground management. A further one-day strike is planned for September 17 if the dispute is not settled.

The strikes by Aslef union members are separate from a series of earlier disputes by the TSSA (Transport Salaried Staffs' Association) and RMT (National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers) transport unions, which involved plans to close station ticket offices and cut about 900 jobs.

Nigel Holness, operations director for London Underground, said: "Despite some progress being made during talks, Aslef leadership have decided to press ahead with this unnecessary strike action and disrupt customers journeys this morning.

"Our staff and volunteers are working hard this morning to keep London moving and I would advise our customers where possible, please plan ahead and check before you travel."

But many voiced their support for the strike action, encouraging others to "stand up and support the workers."

Finn Brennan, of Aslef, also said the strike was being "solidly supported", adding: "This dispute has been brought about by management intransigence on a range of issues, but at its heart is management's refusal to treat drivers with the respect and dignity they deserve at work.

"Our members will not tolerate a situation where vulnerable people leave sickness review meetings in tears and drivers with years of good and long service are threatened with disciplinary action for a delay of 33 seconds in leaving a terminus."