Transport workers in New York have gone on strike for the first time in 25 years. They are protesting after a breakdown in talks over pay and conditions with state authorities.
Unions are demanding better wages, health care and pensions. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority argues that cutbacks in benefits are necessary and says it remains open to negotiations.
The stoppage has paralysed the entire subway and bus system, leaving millions of commuters stranded. It also comes at the height of the holiday season when tourists converge on the Big Apple for Christmas shopping. It is estimated it could cost the city up to 400 million dollars a day.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has denounced the strike as “illegal and morally reprehensible”.
The walkout violates state law and could lead to hefty fines for union members. The last stoppage of this kind took place in 1980 and lasted 11 days.