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The Standard View: Tube and rail strikes must not go ahead

Christian Adams
I

f it moves, it’s grinding to a halt these days. Fresh off Monday’s Tube strike, the RMT union has announced that more than 50,000 railway workers will stage a walkout over three days at the end of June, in addition to a further Underground strike on June 21

The issues will be recognisable to Londoners — pay, pensions and working conditions. Meanwhile, the ensuing chaos will be all too familiar. Of course, maximum disruption is the point.

The three days of strikes are spread across five working days in an attempt to shut down an entire week. To stave this off, all parties — unions, train companies, Transport for London and the Government — must put aside short-term advantage and come together to prevent further travel turmoil.

Shutting down our city for the day and the country for a week is not the solution. Londoners, who pay some of the highest ticket prices in the world, have had enough.

Great hybrid workers

Are you reading this on the Tube or at home? Researchers at King’s College London have found that more than 60 per cent of Londoners are now hybrid working, up from 37 per cent prior to the pandemic. Covid-19 shook the kaleidoscope of our lives.

Before the pieces even began to settle, there were suggestions of the death of the office. That has not come to pass. But it is clear that new working patterns have emerged and certain trends accelerated. Hybrid working may confer benefits for workers and employers. It can lead to a better work-life balance, make childcare arrangements easier and, depending on who you talk to, boost productivity.

Flexibility, of course, does not have to mean a set number of whole days spent at home or in an office, but rather the ability to balance work with family life and other personal demands.

Of course, there remain tangible and widespread benefits to office life. From young people gaining skills and experience from senior colleagues to ease of communication, the ability to manage teams effectively and maintaining company cultures.

What an office is may also be shifting. As we report in today’s paper, office working more and more means commuting to shared workspaces. And crucially, the central London economy relies on commuter traffic. The hollowing out of our city would benefit no one.

Without working from home, the economic damage of lockdown would have been even greater. As we begin to move on from Covid, we will find a new balance that can work for employees, families and businesses alike.

Shoes’ tragic message

Camila Alves McConaughey lifted a pair of green Converse trainers in the air as her husband, Matthew, held a press conference at the White House. They were the shoes said to have been worn by 10-year-old Maite Rodriguez as she was gunned down at the school shooting last month in Uvalde, Texas.

Given the sheer power of an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, DNA testing and the shoes on the feet of victims were the only way to identify many of them, McConaughey said.

America is an outlier when it comes to preventable tragedies such as these which happen with crushing regularity. We hope the actions of the McConaugheys and other activists can help change laws and save lives.

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