Trade unions suspended a threat of strike action on the London Underground last week after successful talks with Transport for London (TfL). There has not been a strike on the Tube during 2019 but have industrial relations improved since Sadiq Khan took over as Mayor of London from Boris Johnson three years ago?
Figures obtained by the BBC show that in the past 11 financial years, since Mr Johnson took over as mayor from Ken Livingstone, there have been more than 36,000 days lost to strike action.
The number of days lost is so high because TfL counts “one day lost for every member of staff missing” and it has led one academic to describe the London Underground as “a museum of bad industrial relations”.
Various disputes over issues including ticket office closures, job cuts, new rotas, employee dismissals and the introduction of the Night Tube have resulted in 68 individual dates of strike action since April 2008.
The London School of Economics’s Prof Tony Travers explained these industrial rows resembled “trigger points” that each mayor would aim to avoid in order to prevent any big strikes.
“These trigger points are usually something new,” he said. “These include the Night Tube, Olympics or working Boxing Day.
“Unions have long used the Underground as good leverage when trying to get better pay because of the monopoly that it serves.”
Between April 2008 and May 2012, during Mr Johnson’s first spell as Mayor of London, 12,523 shifts were lost to strike action – despite him trying to negotiate no-strike deals with the Tube unions.
Figures showed a further 19,689 working days were lost while he was mayor during his second term between May 2012 and May 2016.
In his 2016 Mayor of London election campaign Mr Khan pledged to “reduce the number of days lost to strike action” and he has seen 3,824 shifts lost to strike days during his time at City Hall.
While there have been significantly fewer working days lost to strikes under Mr Khan, there have been 25 dates of industrial action in his three years as mayor, compared with 33 across the whole eight years Mr Johnson was in office.
“Under Sadiq there have been fewer days lost,” Prof Travers said. “But the entire record for Tube strikes is particularly dire.”
TfL said the effect of any strike was dependent on the nature of the dispute, the number of unions involved and where the strike had been called.
The figures included strikes that affected either the whole Tube network or just part of it.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said strike action had “reduced” under Mr Khan because he “listens to the concerns of workers”.
However, Conservative London Assembly member Keith Prince defended Mr Johnson’s record, instead accusing Mr Khan of having a “worse strikes record (than) any of his predecessors”.
According to the TfL data, strike action was predominantly taken by the RMT union, which has about 10,000 members employed on the Tube, and saw workers walk out on 34 occasions.
Aslef, which represents 2,456 Tube drivers, took 13 dates of strike action, while Unite had eight disputes which led to industrial action.
The Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) walked out on two occasions over “employee terms and conditions”.
Aslef’s Finn Brennan said his union had “regular meetings between transport unions, Mr Khan and his team”.
He added: “Aslef uses these meetings to highlight issues that go beyond the remit of the machinery meetings with employers and to encourage a more reasonable attitude on matters we have raised with the company.”
A man in his 60s has been stabbed to death in west London.
Emergency services were called to St Mary’s Avenue in Southall at about 18:40 BST on Saturday where they found the man suffering from a stab wound.
He was pronounced dead at the scene and his next of kin have been informed, the Met Police said.
A man in his 30s has been arrested on suspicion of murder and is in hospital under police guard being treated for minor injuries.
According to a witness who gave the injured man first aid, he was stabbed after leaving a pub.
Raj Grover, who lives near to the victim, said he was getting ready to go to his own birthday party when the man knocked on his front door.
“He was ringing our doorbell,” he told the PA news agency. “He rang the bell and I went out, my son was there, he was shouting ‘Dad, come out’.
“I went downstairs and saw he was full of blood, and then I was running to pick up a towel.
“I put the towel on and I was pressing to stop the blood, then my wife came out, we called the ambulance and the police.”
Mr Grover, who runs a local business, said the victim asked him to call his wife, who then arrived at the house.
“His wife, she mentioned he went to the pub, I don’t know what happened in the pub just around the corner, he came back, was on his way back and somebody stabbed him twice, stabbed him two times with a knife on the stomach and on his side,” he said.
A crime scene and multiple road closures are in place in the area, Scotland Yard said on Saturday evening.
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Commuters have been told not to travel from London Waterloo during the rush hour after a fire closed nine platforms.
The lineside blaze damaged cabling outside the station, meaning trains cannot use platforms 16-24.
Network Rail said “significant damage” had been caused to equipment, meaning trains will be delayed or cancelled.
Disruption is expected for the rest of the day while the Thursday morning rush hour may also be affected.
Network Rail said its engineers would be working through the night to fix the damage.
Waterloo is the busiest and largest railway station in the UK.
The platforms which are closed are normally used by trains serving Windsor, Reading, Hounslow, Richmond and Kingston.
However, services from other platforms are also being affected because trains have to be diverted or revised.
- Circular services via Hounslow, Richmond, Strawberry Hill and Kingston have been cancelled
- Trains between Waterloo and Windsor & Eton Riverside are diverted via Kingston
- Trains between Waterloo and Exeter/Salisbury are terminated and will restart from Basingstoke
Passengers were warned that services on other routes may also be subject to short-notice cancellations or delays.
In a joint statement, Network Rail and South Western Railway said commuters were “strongly advised to use alternative routes where possible and check their journeys before travelling at southwesternrailway.com for ticket acceptance and service details”.
Some passengers took to social media to express their frustration at the travel disruption.
One Twitter user described the situation as an “absolute shambles”, while others complained about being given the wrong or no information at all by train station staff.
An engineering train has derailed in south London causing the closure of the Gatwick Express service.
The train partly left the tracks at low speed outside Victoria station at about 03:00 BST.
No Gatwick Express trains are running, while Southern warned its services would be “severely reduced”.
The train has moved and the track will now be “assessed for damage” and repaired if necessary through the night, according to Southern.
Disruption is expected to last throughout Tuesday but Gatwick Express and Southern said a normal service was expected on Wednesday.
The train was stuck across a number of tracks meaning platforms nine to 13 at Victoria were blocked, while services were not able to use the “slow/stopping” lines to and from Clapham Junction.
Some trains were also unable to leave the Battersea depot – further reducing the number of services that could run.
Recovery teams cut the 50-tonne train from its two wagons and lifted it back on to the track using hydraulic jacks.
Trains running through Gatwick Airport were also disrupted by a separate signalling fault and a passenger who was injured as they left a carriage, which led to one platform becoming blocked.
Some commuters took to social media as they found their trains had been cancelled.
Other stations, including London Bridge, also became congested as people tried to find alternative routes.
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A Network Rail spokesperson said passengers should travel “via London Bridge or London Blackfriars as trains will be delayed, diverted or cancelled”.
Train tickets for Southern and Gatwick Express services have been accepted for reasonable routes on other services.
Train services affected:
- Gatwick Express services are completely suspended
- Services to Sutton, Epsom Downs and Epsom to and from London Victoria are reduced
- Some mainline services will be diverted to London Bridge instead of London Victoria
- Southern services between London Victoria and Reigate are cancelled and passengers are advised to use Thameslink to and from Redhill and then Great Western Railway between Reigate and Redhill
- Services between London Victoria and East Grinstead will call additionally at Selhurst and Streatham Common
- Services between Milton Keynes and East Croydon will call additionally at Wandsworth Common when not already booked to do so
- Services between London Victoria and Horsham via Sutton will call additionally at Ewell East
- Southern trains from Sutton to London Bridge via Wimbledon will be cancelled. Thameslink will be running as normal
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A man, believed to be in his 40s, has been stabbed to death in east London.
The man was found collapsed in Whalebone Lane, near West Ham Lane, Stratford, at 00:40 BST and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
His death was the fourth killing in London in three days – there have been two other stabbings, and a shooting.
The victim’s next of kin have been informed. A post-mortem examination has yet to take place. No arrests have been yet made.
‘More patrols needed’
Local resident Rema Klayton said she had been left “shaken”.
“The Met is aware of what is happening in Newham, namely the number of knife crimes. It would be nice to see the police doing more patrols in the area.
“The area is changing for the worst, not for the better.
“The crime rate is very high and we need help. People are looking to move out of Stratford right now.”
A crime scene remains in place and there are road closures on West Ham Lane between Widdin Street and Paul Street. Stratford Park also remains closed.
A section 60 order, which allows police to stop and search people, has been put in place for the whole of Newham borough until 18:00.
Mayor Sadiq Kahn said the incidents were “heartbreaking”.
“You can’t sugar-coat that the last four days have been awful,” he said.
“The families will never be the same again”.
An 18-year-old man was stabbed to death on Friday afternoon in Wandsworth, south London. Two teenagers have been charged with murder and another man in his 20s was arrested on suspicion of murder on Monday.
Minutes later 19-year-old Eniola Aluko was shot dead in Plumstead, south-east London. Five people were arrested.
On Saturday, a man in his 30s died after he was stabbed in Tower Hamlets.
The deaths take the total number of homicides in London in 2019 to 57. This time last year there had been 77 homicides, 48 of which were stabbings.
Major disruption has been caused to services at London Euston after a trespasser forced lines to be shut for more than two hours.
The delays began at about 08:00 BST and the power on the tracks was turned off so the trespasser could be removed.
The trespasser was spotted close to track near Carpenders Park, south of Watford.
The line was reopened at about 10:25, but passengers are being warned of major delays.
Network Rail said delays would have a knock-on effect throughout the day.
It has advised passengers to check with train operators before travelling.
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