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:
Thanks TfL for making my journey in so efficient and pleasant this morning. NOT #tubestrike— Evey (@pertaub) August 22, 2014
Anyone who calls a strike over something this trivial is a public nuisance, has no dignity, and deserves no respect. http://t.co/VCqxrjM7jq— Pat Condell (@patcondell) August 22, 2014
Just managed to miss bus stop because I was reading about why strike that forced me off the tube was happening.Hyper efficiency this morning— Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) August 22, 2014
Dear Central Line, I dont see you very often but on the rare occasions I do you treat me with utter contempt. And you used to be my fav.— Matthew Rodgers (@MainstreamMatt) August 22, 2014
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."
The right wing have done a great job at turning the public against the unions. Stand up and support the workers. #TubeStrike— König Ludwig IV (@djsway) August 22, 2014
*awaits barrage of Twitter abuse about tube strikers from people who've allowed their own employment rights to become eroded* #tubestrike— Mr Bean (@gingabeans) August 22, 2014
Amused by people saying Tube Drivers get paid enough & shouldn't strike #CentralLine It's about Management bullying NOTHING TO DO WITH MONEY— No1InHeaven (@No1InHeaven) August 22, 2014
Central Line Tube passengers hit by Aslef strike http://t.co/Njp3jgZ58k Respect and bullying. Keep fighting!— sam jones (@sjcnj) August 22, 2014
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."