No tube: London tube hit by strike, day after rail blackout

LONDON — A strike by London Underground workers brought the British capital’s transit network to a halt on Friday, a day after a nationwide strike by railway workers. Another railway strike is scheduled for Saturday as the UK faces an action-packed summer with workers demanding wage increases to offset escalating food and energy price increases.

There were no Tubes on most London Underground lines due to the strike over jobs, wages and pensions by members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, operator Transport for London said.

“It’s going to be a tough day,” said Nick Dent, TFL’s director of Customer Operations. “We advise customers not to travel by metro at all.”

There was also ongoing disruption above ground as trains resumed running after Thursday’s strike by thousands of railway cleaners, signalmen, maintenance workers and other personnel. Only about a fifth of the trains were running during the 24-hour strike, the latest in a series of strikes on Britain’s railways.

Railway unions accuse Britain’s Conservative government of preventing train companies – which are privately owned but highly regulated – from making a better offer. The government denies interference, but says railway companies must cut costs and staff after two years of government emergency funds propped them up.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Times Radio that “it’s a kick in the teeth” for the public for unions “to turn around after we give £16 billion in aid to the railways and go ‘well, well, next thing we go’ to do is to go on strike.’”

More public and private sector unions are planning strikes as Britain faces its worst cost of living crisis in decades. Postmen, lawyers, British Telecom staff and dock workers have all announced strikes for later this month.

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Garbage collectors and recycling workers in Edinburgh, Scotland, began an 11-day strike on Thursday, warning that the waste will pile up on the streets as tourists flock to the city for the Edinburgh Fringe and other arts festivals.

UK inflation hit a new 40-year high of 10.1% in July and the Bank of England says it could rise to 13% later this year during a recession. The average UK household fuel bill is so far up more than 50% in 2022 as Russia’s war in Ukraine puts a strain on global oil and natural gas supplies. Another increase is expected in October, when the average bill is expected to be £3,500 ($4,300) a year.

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