Londoners battle ‘absolutely solid’ #TubeStrike, Uber cashes in on chaos

© Peter Nicholls
Taxi firm Uber has hiked its prices in an attempt to maximize profits during the London Underground strike, as commuters across the capital find alternative routes to work to compensate for the industrial action.

Underground services stopped operating on Wednesday evening, immediately before rush hour, and will not resume full service until Thursday evening.

Drivers and station staff are striking in protest against pay and conditions offered by Transport for London (TfL) in its implementation of a 24-hour Tube service, which is scheduled to begin in the autumn.

The dispute escalated on Wednesday evening when the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union announced it would also give underground engineers the ballot to strike on the same issue, and the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen (ASLEF) accused London Underground of passing night tube rosters without consulting staff.

Our members have rejected the latest offer from the company because they are forcing through new rosters without agreement and offer no firm commitments on work-life balance for train drivers,” ASLEF General Secretary Mick Whelan said.

The action is absolutely solid on London Underground ‎across all unions, all grades and all lines and depots. That sends out the clearest possible message to Boris Johnson and his Tube bosses that they must now take the staff grievances seriously and get back into genuine and meaningful talks,” RMT General Secretary Mick Cash added.

Our dispute is not with the traveling public, it is with those who have botched the introduction of Night Tube and who are trying to plug staffing gaps by wrecking any chance of a decent work/life balance for our members. It really is as simple as that.”

Commuters took to social media on Thursday morning to share their journey woes. While some users were evidently frustrated, others sympathized with the striking workers.

Taxi app Uber has followed the precedent it set during the July strike, the biggest since 2002, and hiked prices to nearly double the usual charge.

During the July 8/9 strike, Uber’s prices shot up 2.9 times higher than normal. On Thursday morning from 5:30am BST the prices began to rise once again, peaking at 1.8 times the usual price at around 6:30am.

Demand is off the charts! Fares have increased to get more Ubers on the road. The surge saw a minimum £7.50 (US$11.70) minimum fare introduced, with £1.88 per mile then added,” an email from the app to users read.

London Mayor Boris Johnson has confirmed Tube workers will not be offered more than the latest “incredibly generous” offer.

He added he was “not fussed” about the Night Tube service opening on time, but that the most important thing was that unions offered the deal to their members.

I want it starting in the autumn – what I am fussed about is the offer being put to union members,” he said.

I am not going to authorize any more money. Most people would recognize that this is a very generous deal.”