Tube strikes "bad news" for London's reputation


The strike by London Underground workers is bad news for the capital even though the threat of disruptions has been played down, a business group said.

Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union members are walking out due to a row over pensions from 4pm on Tuesday until the same time on Friday. The workers maintain and upgrade the Northern, Piccadilly and Jubilee lines and handle emergencies across the network.

Transport for London (TfL) does not believe the industrial action will cause widespread disruption and says plans are in place to keep maintenance work on track.

“We’ll be proving the same real-time travel information that we always do – there are no station or trains staff on strike, only maintenance workers, so we expect this industrial action to have little impact on the Tube services over the next three days,” said a TfL spokesman.

“We have well practised contingency plans in place to ensure that the essential maintenance required on the railway can either go ahead as planned or can be rearranged.”

However, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) director of policy Dr Helen Hill said the strikes will still be bad news for London’s reputation, despite TfL’s optimism that they will only have minimal impact.

She said: “TfL seems confident that the strikes will have little impact of services but the uncertainty over services is the last thing London businesses need at the minute.

“The strikes damage the city’s reputation especially so close to the Olympics and the RMT should have called off this needless strike long before now.”

It had been suggested that the Tube strikes will provide London’s businesses with an opportunity to practice for the Olympics by implementing plans for flexible hours and allowing some employees to work from home.

But Hill did not agree with this rather positive outlook on the strike action.

She said: “It will be unhelpful to have staff out of the workplace at such short notice and there is a planned period in May for businesses to test there flexible working plans which will provide the best opportunity to stress test ahead of the Games.”

Bob Crow, the general secretary of the RMT, believes London Underground is looking at secret plans to reprivatise work in a second run of the public private partnership (PPP) “disaster”.

London Underground managing director Mike Brown insists there are no plans to use the PPP structures from the past.