OPINION - The Standard View: Ministers must end blame game to avert Tube and rail strikes

·3-min read
 (Christian Adams)
(Christian Adams)

In the absence of an 11th-hour miracle, next week will see another round of Tube and rail strikes that threaten to bring London, as well as vast swathes of the country, to a standstill. The summer of discontent is well underway.

The disruption will involve more than 40,000 RMT union members from Network Rail and around a dozen train companies, including guards and signalling operators.

The union claims Network Rail plans to axe up to 2,500 jobs as part of a £2 billion savings programme, including workers who maintain tracks, signals and overhead lines.

Spread across three days, but choreographed to cause chaos for up to six, the industrial action will disrupt GCSE exams, hospital appointments and people travelling to Glastonbury, as well as interrupt the normal functioning of business. The latest Tube strikes will hit the capital’s economy as well as TfL’s finances. And for Londoners it represents a double whammy, with both the Underground and national rail services out of action.

The disputes, which have flared over job cuts, pay and conditions for rail workers and the lack of a satisfactory TfL funding deal are not insurmountable. Ministers must do more, bring in the RMT and rail companies to address them and avoid these strikes.

It is easy to blame the unions, the Mayor or the Labour Party for this mess but the Government also needs to take responsibility and do more to avert these strikes. Because as ever, it is the voting public that is caught in the crossfire, sitting on buses for hours or missing out on work.

London’s top of tech

The capital welcomed representatives from across the global tech industry at London Tech Week. It comes as London has been named the world’s second-largest hub for tech start-ups and the global leader for fintech, generating more unicorn startups than any European hub.

It’s a real British success story, highlighting the capital’s entrepreneurial spirit. London also ranked among the highest for access to early-stage funding, while the capital beat New York on the report’s “connectedness” metric, the ability for a startup to increase its global reach. Furthermore, our blockchain and metaverse fundraising has reached £1.4 billion, more than the whole of France.

The message to tech leaders, entrepreneurs and anyone with a great idea is that London is the place to make it happen, and generate the early-stage investment key to building a billion-pound business.

Heatwave madness

How hot is too hot? London and the South-East are set for the warmest day of the year so far, with the mercury potentially rising to 34C, hotter than many holiday destinations we’re all desperately trying to reach.

Heatwaves bring the good and the bad. The positives are a fiesta atmosphere after a long, wet winter and spring. The negatives — beyond the clear and present risk of shorts in the office — is the potential danger to health and the knowledge that climate change makes these very hot days more likely.

Even Ascot is relaxing its dress code, with men permitted to remove their ties for the first time in the event’s history. Climate adaptation will require more, but it’s a start.

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