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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 17:30 GMT
NY transport workers end strike
The number 7 train returns to service in Queens, New York
Buses, subways and trains rumbled back into life across New York
Transport union leaders in New York have voted to end a three-day strike that forced millions of commuters to walk, cycle, skate or share rides.

The public transport network rumbled into life overnight on Friday and by mid-morning a full service had resumed.

The union had been faced with fines and jail terms for its leaders, as the law bans transport workers from striking.

The strike - the city's first in 25 years - is thought to have cost New York up to a billion dollars.

Workers returned to their posts on the largest public transport system in the US after union leaders thrashed out a deal on Thursday.

The city's seven million commuters expressed relief that the strike had come to an end.

'Disaster'

"I'm glad that it's over. I didn't think I'd be able to leave the city to go home to Virginia for Christmas," fashion stylist Christina Turner told the Reuters news agency.

Even some of the city's cabbies - who have been doing a roaring trade during the industrial action - welcomed its end.

Commuters walk across the Brooklyn bridge
Millions walked across bridges into Manhattan each day of the strike

"Thank God it's over," Abdul Sukur, 32, told the New York Times. "It's been kind of a disaster."

Looking ahead to Friday, he added: "For me it will be an average day. But for bus and train commuters, they are very pleased."

Union workers seemed willing to return to their jobs as soon as possible.

Minutes after it was announced the unions would go back to work, Mayor Michael Bloomberg urged people to shop and visit theatres and museums.

And he said the city had handled the strike well.

"This was really a very big test for our city. I think it's fair to say we passed the test with flying colours."

Mounting pressure

On the third day of the strike, the executive board of Transport Workers Union Local 100 voted overwhelmingly to return to work without a contract.

Negotiations - which will not be made public - will now resume on pay and benefits.

People queue for taxis in New York City
Some taxi drivers pitied their customers

Fiery union leader Roger Toussaint had recommended that the board end the strike.

"We thank all riders for their patience and forbearance and we will be providing various details regarding the outcome of this strike in the next several days," he said.

Riders had in fact not been especially patient. A WNBC/Marist opinion poll suggested more than half of New Yorkers opposed the strike, with more than a third backing it.

The unions had been facing mounting pressure to abandon the protest and was threatened with a fine of $1m (600,000) for each day of the strike. It is not clear if the unions will have to pay the fine.

Workers who strike in violation of the law are fined two days' pay for each day they miss work.

A commuter walks past another sleeping under ticket windows in New York

New York State Governor George Pataki, an outspoken critic of the action, said its conclusion was "very positive" for all New Yorkers but added that striking workers should not expect to have their fines waived.

US stocks rose on news that union members would go back to work.

The Transport Workers' Union and Metropolitan Transport Authority are in dispute over wage rises, health care and pension costs and the retirement age of employees.

Nearly 34,000 workers went on strike on Tuesday after talks over their contracts collapsed.

They said they were "tired of being underappreciated" but transport bosses accused them of "bullying tactics".

This was the first mass transit walkout in New York since an 11-day strike in 1980, which was calculated to have cost the city billions of dollars.


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New Yorkers attempt to get to work




SEE ALSO:
NY strikers threatened with jail
21 Dec 05 |  Americas
New York stopped in its tracks
21 Dec 05 |  Have Your Say
NY strike union fined $1m a day
20 Dec 05 |  Americas


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