Millions of commuters struggled to go to work Thursday morning because of the London Tube strike, which began Wednesday night and will end at 5:45 a.m. Friday.
The strike puts the London Underground network, or the Tube, in total shutdown mode. It is purported to be the biggest Underground strike in more than a decade, CNN reports. The London Tube strike is also the first total Tube shutdown in 13 years, The Telegraph reports.
Commuters crowded in buses while others waited in very long lines for their chance to board a bus. Many resorted to commuting alternatives such as riding rented bicycles or walking to work.
Taxi firm Uber made its services available to desperate commuters but asked for three times the regular fare.
The already chaotic situation was made worse by a parallel 48-hour strike by rail workers of the First Great Western, which was held in support of Tube workers. The rail workers are also facing issues with the train's management. The First Great Western affected travels from London to the west and Wales, according to Forbes.
Mike Brown, managing director of LU, said the strike was "totally unnecessary," according to CNN.
In the heat of the commuting nightmare, a Tube driver posted an open letter on Facebook to explain why 20,000 employees decided to hold the strike. Mike Davey explained the strike is not about the money but about the scheduling of shifts regarding the Night Tubes, which will be implemented starting in September, according to The Independent.
"This dispute has never been about money. It is about protecting work life balance and making sure that change in contracts are negotiated, not just imposed," Davey wrote.
He said that fellow employees share the sentiment that they "cannot continue to have more and more weekend and anti-social hours working." He stated that although he was not opposed to Night Tube, he hoped it would be introduced in a way "that recognises that staff are human beings with lives and families as well as a job," The Independent reports.
Davey explained in his post that his present schedule includes one week of night duty over a 52-week period. Under the new terms that will be implemented on September, he will be required to work a minimum of 14 weeks straight of night duty.
"I have a family, I would like to see them at weekend," Davey said.
Tube management addressed employees' issues by offering a revised proposal. However, it was given with the condition that it needed to be accepted by 6:30 p.m. of July 6, otherwise, the proposal would be withdrawn.
The unions did not have enough time to review the proposal and consult with their committees, so the proposal was withdrawn. Davey clarified that the unions did not reject the proposal, but it was withdrawn becaue of their failure to meet the deadline.
"We are, as we always have been, ready to talk at any time to sort out this dispute," LU Chief Operating Officer Steve Griffiths said.
LU announced it is hiring an additional 137 train operators for the Night Tube. This means the present operators will only do "a few extra nights" each year. The Tube management also clarified that it is not mandating employees to work more hours than their present schedule, BBC reports.