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Wednesday, 25 September, 2002, 13:45 GMT 14:45 UK
Travel misery as Tube strike bites
Bus queue at Victoria Station
Commuters queued to board packed buses at Victoria
A 24-hour strike by Tube workers has shut down the London Underground network and forced millions of commuters to pack onto crowded buses and gridlocked roads.

Only 15 of London Underground's 600 drivers reported for work on Wednesday as part of a joint strike by the RMT and Aslef unions over pay.

Long queues built up at bus stops in central London with many travellers giving up trying to board packed buses and walking to work instead.

And despite the strike officially ending at 2000 BST, the chaos will continue as services are unlikely to return to normal until Thursday morning.

RMT general secretary Bob Crow said his members had "responded to the call" and supported the strike.

But although there were no drivers, London Underground has claimed 60% of station staff, mostly RMT members, did cross the picket line.

Nigel Holness, from London Underground, said it was "too early" to say support for the strike was collapsing.

But he told BBC London: "I personally employ 2,000 staff and they are all saying to me they do not really understand what this dispute is all about."

Police officers patrolled Shepherd's Bush Green bus stop and Hammersmith Broadway as a safety precaution because of the amount of people trying to board buses.

And traffic was heavy on approach roads to London, particularly the M4 and A4 as commuters switched to their cars.

Why are they not applying in their thousands for a position with LUL?

John, UK

Police were called to Edgware Road Tube station in north London when managers complained about "aggressive picketing".

A second strike by the two unions is planned for next Tuesday.

Mr Crow and Aslef leader Mick Rix joined the picket line at Golders Green Tube station in north London.

Mr Rix said the union had not wanted to strike, and would have been prepared to take the matter to an independent arbitrator.

But he said London Underground had refused to go to arbitration.

I absolutely 100% regret what is happening to the travelling public but I have to say that the blame for this dispute lies fairly and squarely on LU's doorstep.

RMT leader Bob Crow

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone told BBC Radio 4's Today programme he backed the worker's right to strike.

He said: "If you have got a management that won't negotiate the only thing a workforce can then do is strike.

Responsibility for negotiating and settlements will pass to Mr Livingstone next year and he said he would seek a three to four year pay deal, to end the annual negotiations.

But London Underground (LU) insisted its 3% pay rise, which had been imposed on workers after it was rejected by the unions, was good.

Bob Mason, human resources director of the LU, said he would not "cave in" to fresh demands.

LU has said there was no more money on the table, and said managers had already been to the conciliation service three times to try to settle the dispute.

The BBC's Andrew Burroughs
"97 percent of train drivers joined the strike"
BBC London's Andrew Winstanley
"The extra early start meant tempers were frayed."
Mayor of London Ken Livingstone
"This is completely unnecessary strike action"

Talking PointFORUM
Liberal Democrat transport spokesman Don FosterTravel misery
Ask Lib Dems' transport man 1600 BST

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See also:

25 Sep 02 | England
17 Sep 02 | England
03 Sep 02 | England
12 Aug 02 | England
06 Aug 02 | England
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