Millions of Londoners struggled to get to work as a 24-hour strike by staff and drivers brought the British capital's underground rail network to a complete halt. As Ivor Bennett reports, there may be more disruption on the way following a new Budget proposal to freeze public sector pay rises for four years.
One of those mornings that makes you feel good to be alive...right? Well, not for commuters in London. Attempts to seize the day were blocked for many on their way to work by strikes on the Underground and a key rail network. Cue a city in gridlock. Millions were affected. Queues for buses started building from as early as 6am. While others took matters into their own hands...and feet. Unions, though, wanted sympathy too. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MEL TAYLOR, TSSA UNION NEGOTIATOR, SAYING: "When people take strike action, when London Underground staff take strike action, they loose pay, it's not something they want to do and they are only doing it because there is genuinely no other alternative." Mel Taylor is lead negotiator for the TSSA - one of four unions on the picket line. The strike is a reaction to plans for a new night service at weekends. The Tube says they've hired 137 new drivers. But strikers says that's not enough, even accusing the government of forcing their hand to pit public opinion against them. Steve Hedley is from the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union. (SOUNDBITE) (English) STEVE HEDLEY, SENIOR ASSISTANT GENERAL SECRETARY OF RMT UNION, SAYING: "We think that this is a politically motivated dispute, I think that the government want a chance to bring in the anti-trade union laws and that is why they have had such hard-faced managers negotiating." They're aren't many things Londoners loathe more than travel chaos. But they may have to get used to industrial action. The strike comes just a day after the government unveiled a pay rise cap for public sector workers. A one percent annual rise for the next four years is still above inflation, but much less than the private sector. And if that triggers walkouts, it won't just be the Tube that's shut, but schools and hospitals too.