London Tube strike: The view from King's Cross Station
- 29 April 2014
- From the section London
Heavier traffic, lengthy bus queues and a collection of flag-waving London Underground workers meant only one thing at King's Cross on Tuesday morning - another 48-hour Tube strike.
In typical British fashion, the latest disruption over proposed ticket office closures and job cuts was met with quiet resilience and gritted teeth, with the odd story of inconvenience confided when pressed.
Tony Ibrahim was waiting at a crowded bus stop as buses bound for Angel left packed full of customers. Police community support officers urged passengers to fill up all available space inside the buses.
He was trying to get to a training course for reps of the Unite union. His job? A bus driver.
The irony was not lost on him as he presented his membership card chuckling, with his lorry driver friend Colin Miller also on his way to the course.
"It took me 45 minutes to go from Walthamstow to Seven Sisters," he said. It would usually take about five minutes on the Underground but there was no service on Tuesday morning from Walthamstow.
"We're going to learn how to be the next Bob Crow," said Mr Ibrahim, referring to the RMT leader who died suddenly last month.
"We're not moaning," said Mr Ibrahim, who said he had tried to get on several different buses.
"People don't lose two days' money for no reason. But we can understand the frustration."
Bruce Carnaby, a futures trader on his way from Royston near Cambridge to Monument was one of the frustrated.
As he waited to try and get on a bus he estimated his total journey time would be at least an hour longer than usual.
"I'm not entirely sure I know why they're striking," he said, echoing a number of responses at King's Cross.
"It just seems they need a strike every year."
Having been furnished with the reasons, he said: "We do seem to have lost all semblance of service in this country. We were built as a nation in service to customers."
Accounts manager Angie Ortiz had to watch five full buses go past her stop in Brixton before she could get on one.
"I had to wait 20 minutes to get on a bus and it's a 10-minute journey," she said.
Asked if she supported the strikers, she said: "By striking they are making a point however they are making everyone else suffer which is a bit of a nuisance."
An ambulance worker who did not wish to be named said the strike placed an extra burden on the emergency services with contingency plans having to be put in place.
He questioned the grounds for the strike given that London Underground has said there will be no compulsory redundancies.
"The environment for how the public pay for their services is changing. It's old school to think sitting behind a window at a counter is always going to be your job.
"Other people are losing jobs left right and centre."
At the picket line, spirits were high. Members of the public had been offering support, strikers said, and some British Airways workers dropped by with chocolates in solidarity.
A long-running dispute between British Airways and Unite over staffing levels, pay and conditions ended in 2011. "They've been through it," said a picketer.
And little says companionship and camaraderie in Britain better than chocolate.