There's a tube strike starting at 4pm today – not that you'll realise, at least at first.
The strike is by maintenance workers who used to be part of Tube Lines, working on the Jubilee, Northern and
Victoria sorry, Piccadilly lines. As we said last week, the dispute is because former Tube Lines workers want the same pension rights and benefits as their Transport for London colleagues; when Boris bought out Tube Lines, the staff kept their terms and conditions which weren't as good as TfL's employees.
The strike lasts three days, which is quite cunning on the part of the RMT. When drivers and station staff go on strike, the impact is immediate: trains don't run and stations don't open, and commuters are left to cram themselves onto buses or walk. Maintenance workers are only noticed when something goes wrong. Over three days, the likelihood of a signal failure or line problem increases (remember this is the Jubilee line we're talking about) and the problem will take longer to be fixed, or won't be fixed at all.
Tube Lines say they have contingency plans in place and don't expect any serious disruption on the three lines. As for the timing, the week before the election, Boris Johnson has said
these needless strikes have been called by Ken Livingstone's union boss supporters as part of his strategy to be re-elected
while Ken Livingstone said
This strike is completely unnecessary and could be averted if only Boris Johnson took responsibility and met the transport unions to resolve this dispute.