The people who drive those vans, employed by everyone's favourite outsourcing firm Serco, started a 48 hour strike at 9pm last night. The walk out followed a unanimous vote by the RMT (headed, as it happens, by everyone's favourite union leader, Bob Crow), and is intended to protest against poor staffing levels and a below inflation pay rise.
Serco said it was "deeply disappointed" that the strike was going ahead, pointing out its offer of a 2% pay rise had been accepted by its "recognised" trade union Community. The RMT pointed out that no one, to the first approximation, is actually in Community, making its opinion on pay and conditions a bit of an irrelevance. The whole thing is something of a mess.
The strike will, of course, be a right pain in the arse for anyone hoping to use one of the bikes until Wednesday, though its full ramifications are not exactly clear. Our guess is that users in major employment centres (the City, the Wharf, the West End) will be lucky to see an empty docking station any time before 6 tonight, while those in residential areas on the fringes of the scheme will be lucky to find a bike. Then, after evening rush hour, this situation will magically go into reverse.
The one exception will be Islington which, lying as it does on a slight hill, is unlikely to see a single Barclays logo any time before Wednesday morning. Still. Walking's good for you, at least.
Photo courtesy of Ledgr, taken from the Londonist flickr pool