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Southern Railway and BA cabin crew strikes cause more chaos for travellers

Strikes by Southern Railway train drivers and British Airways cabin crew were being "solidly supported" on Tuesday, causing fresh disruption.

Rail passengers were worst affected, with virtually no Southern services running because of a walkout by members of the Aslef union in a dispute over driver-only trains.

Southern said it ran a handful of trains from Brighton to London early in the morning, driven by driver/managers, and planned to operate eight trains in each direction in the morning and during peak hours between Caterham and the capital.

These trains are driver-only operated. But the company normally operates more than 2,200 trains a day, carrying 300,000 passengers.

Buses and coaches were laid on but hundreds of thousands of people could not get to work.

Members of the Unite union at BA started a 48-hour strike in a row over pay, leading to a number of flights to and from Heathrow being merged.

Meanwhile, London Underground services returned to normal after a strike by station staff crippled the Tube on Monday.

Transport for London urged the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union and the Transport Salaried Staffs Association (TSSA) to continue discussions to resolve the Tube dispute, which centres around job cuts and ticket office closures.

London Underground chief operating officer Steve Griffiths said: "I thank customers for the patience they showed during the unnecessary strike, and encourage the unions to continue talking with us to resolve the dispute.

"We had always intended to review staffing levels and have had constructive discussions with the unions. We agree that we need more staff in our stations and have already started to recruit 200 extra staff and this is likely to increase further as we work through the other areas that need to be addressed."

Aslef and Unite said their members were solidly supporting the strikes, which are set to continue.

Southern drivers were striking on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, as well as for three days later in the month.

Unite's cabin crew members at BA were striking on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The long-running Southern dispute remains deadlocked, with no plans for talks.

TSSA general secretary Manuel Cortes said: "We hope London Underground will resume talks with us without delay so that a resolution to this long-standing dispute can be found."

"The man who created this mess, Boris Johnson, now gallivants around the world whilst our Tube is no longer as safe as it should be after he butchered over 800 jobs.

"LU, our new Mayor Sadiq Khan and unions all agree that more jobs are needed to restore a safely-served Tube. Given this, a resolution should not be beyond our wit."

The BA dispute involves so-called mixed fleet cabin crew who joined BA since 2010 and who Unite claims are on "poverty pay".

Unite national officer Oliver Richardson said: "Going on strike is never an easy decision, so we are pleased with the numbers of mixed fleet cabin crew who have taken the courageous step to take a stand against poverty pay at British Airways.

"This is a low-paid workforce struggling to make ends meet on wages which are among the lowest in the airline industry. It is to the shame of British Airways, a company which prides itself as a 'premium brand', that members of its loyal workforce are forced to take second jobs to make ends meet or turn up to work unfit to fly because they can't afford to take the day off sick.

"Refusing to meaningfully address the concerns of mixed fleet cabin crew and instead seeking to poison industrial relations through confrontation does passengers a disservice and will lead to plummeting morale.

"We would urge British Airways to listen to our members and address their legitimate concerns over poverty pay."

Passengers said coaches were laid on outside East Grinstead railway station to go to Three Bridges where trains were running, but most people had taken Southern's advice and stayed at home.

"The private coach operators must be laughing all the way to the bank," said one man who did turn up.

Unite members mounted picket lines in the Heathrow area.

A union spokesman said: "The strike is being solidly supported, and we are receiving support from passing motorists."

BA said 22 flights to and from Heathrow Airport would be cancelled on Tuesday because of the strike - out of 800 in total.

The airline said flights were operating to the schedule it announced last week after the strike was revealed.

Affected destinations include Hamburg, Dusseldorf, San Jose, Oslo and Aberdeen.

Flights have been merged so passengers will be able to get to their destinations, BA added.


From Belfast Telegraph