Tube strike leaves London financial district in chaos Thursday

Mind The Gap – between the ability to arrive at the office, or not.

Today, just one day after British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne unveiled the first budget which adheres to true conservative fiscal policy that Britain has seen since 1996, the militant trade unions are out in force.

A 24 hour strike which has affected the London Underground is in force, with absolutely no tube services running at all today, creating havoc for London’s financial district, which is largely serviced by public transport services, meaning that a large number of employees cannot arrive at their offices today at all.

The industrial action began yesterday evening at 18,30 and is the largest walkout since 2002, having been organized by London Underground staff and several trade unions including ASLEF, which is a notoriously militant organization, has left commuters stranded on their journeys home from work yesterday, and left many without a means of arriving at the office today.

London’s ‘square mile’ financial district is in the eastern side of Central London, and is not accessible very easily by car due to its small streets and the need to drive across London at rush hour with its notorious traffic jams, which would be amplified due to the lack of underground trains, and then compounded by the absence of parking facilities in the area.

As a result of this, it is likely that within the financial sector and London’s vast institutional electronic trading industry, light volumes may ensue due to the effect on productivity that will potentially arise.

Union leaders, whose ideology is completely at odds with that of private sector firms in the financial sector, are aware of this and therefore can create maximum impact by staging such a strike.

This time, the industrial action is over working hours and pay for the new 24-hour “night Tube” – which unions say is being imposed without proper discussion.

On Monday this week, London Underground staff rejected a 2 per cent pay rise for tube drivers and a £2,000 bonus for working on the all-night service. So how hard-up are London’s tube drivers as it stands?

Thanks to the unions’ multi-year deal with London Underground, keeping pay above inflation, tube drivers enjoy a starting salary of £49,673 a year.

The Telegraph’s Asa Bennett looked at this closely, stating that the pay doesn’t alter depending on how long the driver has spent in the role, but it could rise after five years to anything between £50,000 to £60,000.

Their starting salary still easily dwarfs the starting salaries for workers in other sectors including health and education, as drivers can earn more than some hospital doctors.

In addition to the tube strike, for employees that travel into London from other regions of the country, a separate 48-hour walkout by First Great Western (FGW) staff – which also began at 18:30 on Wednesday – is disrupting services between London, Wales and the West Country.

Whilst Britain’s economy and outlook remains extremely bright and flies in the face of the flagging, non-productive and debt-ridden situation apparent in other EU member states, and the nation enjoys a remarkable growth in overall economic activity, as well as the provision of a very prudent budget by George Osborne yesterday, there is clearly one remaining legacy of the dark days of socialism.

Former Prime Minister Baroness Margaret Thatcher took the trades unions to task in the 1980s with some degree of success. The question is, can David Cameron’s administration put a final end to the militant ideology of the tail wagging the dog?

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