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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 December 2005, 15:35 GMT
New York stopped in its tracks
Unusually empty New York streets. Picture sent in by Per Jirstrand
The New York streets are unusually quiet for the time of year
Millions of New Yorkers are without subway and bus services after city transport workers voted to strike.

The BBC News website has received hundreds of emails from people affected by the New York strikes.

Erica, a part-time teacher in the South Bronx, lives in lower Manhattan and has been forced to stay at home because of the strike.

"To walk to work would cost more than I would earn in a day, I know no one driving the reverse commute and as a native New Yorker, will not get in a car with a stranger.

"That leaves me stuck at home instead of in my classroom for as long as this strike continues. I am losing money and my students are losing knowledge."

The way media has covered the news of the strike has been criticised by many, Nicole, from the Bronx says "while the photos of people roller-blading through the city streets to get to work look great in the news, the real story is the people who can't get to work.

HAVE YOUR SAY
Get back to work or quit, but stop messing up everyone else's lives
Mike, Brooklyn, USA

"Maybe the media could focus less on the 'urban adventure' of the strike and more on the harder choices people are having to face. Most will have a less glamorous alternative to the subway than the mountain bike or the Vespa," she says.

Many workers have voiced their anger at the Transport Workers Union's (TWU) decision to call a strike and are less than sympathetic with their reasons for striking.

Lars Engstorm is a member of a union but thinks the TWU is "trying to win a battle that will lose the war."

"The TWU is punishing the people of New York and they will have hell to pay," he says.

Mike, from Brooklyn, says the workers on strike should find another solution to their problems and not "punish ordinary New Yorkers.

The normally packed Grand Central station. Picture sent in by David Reeves
The normally busy Grand Central station. Picture by David Reeves
"Get back to work or quit, but stop messing up everyone else's lives! It's not fair on us and I have zero sympathy."

This sentiment is echoed by Scauldy who says both sides have shown no regard for the people of New York.

"I live in New Jersey but work in Brooklyn and the Bronx. I work alone travelling for location to location in those two boroughs. How the hell can I bring three other people into work with me? I am losing money every day this strike continues."

Some people have managed to get to work and have described their journeys and how New Yorkers are coping.

Nelly Parisot says the traffic was gridlocked for many blocks and only managed to get into work because her company offered a shuttle service to transport over 60 of her colleagues, even though it wasn't the driver's job and they weren't being paid for it.

She says the strike has bought out the good in some people, others are exploiting the situation by offering rides, but for a fee.

Entrances to subways are closed. Picture sent in by Anna MacLachlan
A MacLachlan: "A strike is not the worst thing to happen to the NYC"
A few members of the TWU contacted the BBC to give their side of the story.

Marie, a TWU member from Brooklyn, says "what we're fighting for here goes far beyond mere pay raises and retirement benefits. It's essentially about the economic viability of labourers.

"The fact the Metropolitan Transportation Authority execs continually award themselves double-digit increases on top of their already obscene six-figure salaries while offering the lifeline of the city a pittance is unconscionable."

Holiday-makers are being affected too, however Kyle Bellamy, a Brit on holiday in New York, supports the strike even though it is causing problems for him and his hosts' plans.

"Striking is the only true power that working people have. All workers deserve to retire early enough to enjoy it."



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