LONDON, United Kingdom - Conservative plans to open the London Underground 24 hours a day have once again hit the buffers as all four unions representing tube staff will go out on strike tonight. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wants to roll out the plan in September but he has faced fierce opposition from far-left union bosses.
Officially the unions support the move, but have deliberately mired it in problems. The RMT Union is unhappy drivers will not get a pay raise from their $70k annual salary. Tube driving is easily the best paid public sector profession in Britain, because they are almost constantly on strike demanding more cash.
The RMT previously threatened to strike during the London 2012 Olympics, but were instead paid off with a special bonus. It also held a strike during the budget earlier this year, which was widely seen as an attempt to embarrass the newly elected Conservative government.
A spokesperson for the Mayor told The Press Association: "Despite the fair, sensible and generous offer on the table - which will see no-one working more hours than they do today - the unions have chosen not to put it to their members and to reject it outright.
"The fact is that the night Tube is well supported by Londoners and by businesses across the capital. The Mayor believes that most reasonable people see its introduction as a progressive move for transport in our city."
RMT leader Mick Cash claimed the 24 hour opening would lead to workers “work/life balance” being “wrecked”. He is believed to favor keeping the tube closed at night, a policy that leaves thousands stranded, particularly after bars and clubs shut on Fridays and Saturdays.
Time To Ban Tube Strikes?
In response to the strike the Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) pressure group called for underground workers to be banned from striking in the same way police are. The group claims the strike will cost Londoners over $450m in lost revenue and increased transport costs.
TPA Chief Executive, Jonathan Isaby, said: "The Tube is as essential a service as it gets, and Londoners deserve real protection from militant union leaders who think nothing of holding the capital to ransom. We have learnt from year after year of strikes that there is no satisfying the unions; every time the Mayor or the Government have given ground to the unions, it only inspires further industrial action.”
He continued: “Is it fair that a nurse, on half the pay of a tube driver, is forbidden from striking but is unable to get to work because a union leader wants to curry favour with militant allies?
"The Government must at least introduce a 'minimum service' element into legislation to ensure that London continues to function during periods of industrial action, and consult on the possibility of banning strikes on our transport network altogether.”
Transport for London are laying on an extra 250 buses tonight, but this is unlikely to prevent the transport meltdown caused by the tube closing. Commuters have been advised to complete their journeys before the strike starts. It will start at 6:30 p.m. (GMT) on Wednesday and last for 24 hours.
Both New York and San Francisco have already banned strikes by transport workers.