What’s in a strike? Apparently, a vast number of disgruntled people. The 2,300 members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, under the leadership of the much disliked (by those who use the Underground, at any rate) Bob Crow, walked out last week for a day and a half. The Mayor, Ken Livingstone, was bemused he claimed that all their demands (for guarantees against job losses and major changes to their employment contracts) had been met. What is most frustrating is that this strike largely affects those who are powerless to do anything about it. Analysts predicted losses to London’s economy of £50 million a day.
This doesn’t include those astonished tourists calling home to report on the shambles of this city’s transport. Struggling to get home on the first evening of the strike, the pavements were almost bouncing under the extra weight. Buses were filled to bursting point, and scores of us waiting at the stops could only wave our fists uselessly as yet another one sailed past, too full to stop. Once on a bus, the crowds looked as threatening as a baying mob held back by police. We were held to ransom yet unable to sign the cheque.