The recent tube strikes in London have caused disruption for the most densely populated part of the UK. The 21st century has seen industrial action from public sector workers ranging from teachers to doctors. The reasons for striking can differ, but it typically produces a ripple effect for those indirectly linked to the situation.
Let’s look at the tube strikes, which ostensibly affect just one area of the country. The most obvious factor is disruption to those who regularly travel by underground train. They must find alternative methods of travel, or perhaps cancel their plans for that day.
The wider effects could be felt by those who would not normally use the Tube. It’s fair to assume that there will be more cars and bikes on the road and the buses and overground trains would be crowded with extra passengers. Delays and absences would then affect British businesses who regularly deal with clients and suppliers in London.
One beneficiary from the London Tube strikes has been the taxi firm Uber. Uber’s business model allows for a fluid fare system to manage supply and demand, and the fare multiplier on Monday 9th of January was 4.5. With a £10 fare now costing £45, the drivers are incentivised to work more hours and of course Uber make a lot more money.
Such industrial action is, in the vast majority of cases, limited to just one working day or 24 hours. However, the intangible consequence that lasts much longer, is public confidence. With a perceived likelihood of future disruptions, someone determining whether to keep a car or use public transport may be influenced by the likely prospect of future strikes.
Southern Rail workers have decided to strike on the 10th, 11th and 13th of January, and have plans to do the same towards the end of January 2017. Whilst the number of passengers affected may not be as many as the tube strikes, several days of lost service would be a significant disruption to rail users and Southern Rail.
Will all this inconvenience and lost productivity be worthwhile for anyone?