If you haven’t been keeping up with your British news, you may not know it’s pretty tough to be a commuter in London right now. Why? As The Guardian reports, there is no London Tube service running until Friday, forcing stressed-out, tired commuters to cram uncomfortably into buses.
But speak to a London Underground train driver, and you’ll get a different perspective. Train workers are on strike this week to protest the implementation of 24-hour train service, set to start next month.
As we’ve written about before, London train workers are concerned that 24-hour service will deny them opportunities to spend time with their families. They also maintain that the pay raise on offer isn’t enough to account for the extra work asked of them.
Now, as part of the protest, London Underground workers have released a new analysis conducted by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which represents British unions. As reported by The Independent, the TUC found that the number of British employees working regular night shifts has increased by more than three million in the years since the recession.
According to the TUC, requiring employees to work at night has led to a host of mental and physical health problems, including higher risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and depression. That’s not to mention the additional impacts on social and family life.
The TUC’s general secretary, Frances O’Grady, was quoted as saying, “We all value night workers, whether they are cleaning our office, caring for a sick relative or driving all night so there are fresh goods in our local shop. But night work is hard and it disrupts family life, so we must show our appreciation for the sacrifices night workers make by ensuring they have rights and protections.”
Specifically, the number of night workers has risen from 2,961,000 in 2007 to 3,168,000 in 2014 — an increase from 11.7 percent to 12.3 percent. Night-shift workers were reported as being 14.9 percent male and 9.7 percent female.
And even though night workers are mostly male, it’s the female-heavy jobs — such as care workers, nurses and midwives — that have the most amount of evening staff, according to The Independent. The analysis also found that most night workers are black or from minority backgrounds, while young employees are more likely to work at night than older ones.
Hopefully a fair solution can be worked out for everybody. Let’s just hope if the London Underground gets 24-hour service, it maintains its reputation of being clean — unlike New York’s subway.