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London Underground train driver explains why they went on strike

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 July 2015

Commuters waiting for a train on the c2c line at Upminster station, London, as commuters face travel misery trying to get to work because of a strike which has brought London Underground to a standstill.

Commuters waiting for a train on the c2c line at Upminster station, London, as commuters face travel misery trying to get to work because of a strike which has brought London Underground to a standstill.

PA/Press Association Images

“Striking is the only power we have as workers,” explained a London Underground train driver.

“It is important to fight for your own working conditions.

“If I am going to be in this job for 20 or 30 more years then I need to fight to maintain it.”

Last week the capital ground to a halt as Transport for London’s (TfL) workers walked out for 24 hours after talks with unions about the implementation of the night Tube crumbled.

The new service is planned for September and unions have concerns about the extra night and weekend shifts and their effect on employees’ work/life balance.

“There have been a lot of ongoing issues like job cuts and pay rises,” said the driver.

“This particular issue is night Tubes. Boris Johnson has decided he wants this to exist.”

The driver, who earns up to £50,000 a year and declined to be named, is concerned about the effect of extra night shifts.

“At the moment we do four sets of nights over a year. These nights would be different. Now the trains finish just before 2 and get back out again around 4.30. It’s not realistic in my mind to do it every couple of weeks.

“My partner is in a similar situation with night shifts and there is no child care provision in the world that will look after children overnight.

“How would I care for my children and sleep enough between night shifts to be ready for work again in the night, especially if they’re too young for school or it’s the holidays?”

The driver also had concerns about the nature of the night shift with revellers wandering home after hours of drinking and causing trouble.

“We do some night shifts at the moment and I hate doing it as we have got to deal with so many drunks,” said the driver.

“They are fighting each other, being aggressive or joking around by pretending to push each other in front of the train.

“Sometimes they are so drunk they fall on to the tracks or use the tunnel as a toilet.

“I have nightmares about it.”

The driver said many Tube drivers also fear being pushed out of the job if they are not able to cope with the potential new hours.

“I can’t afford to do a different job as being a Tube driver is very specialised and there are few transferable skills.

“I started this job when I was 20 and I’m stuck doing it unless I retrain, which could take years – I’m not qualified to do anything else.”

However, the driver admits their view isn’t that of everyone and many workers welcome the changes.

“There are people who will want to do these night shifts and will work them if they are offered double time or something but it’s just not possible for others.”


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