Tube strikes 2014: ‘Sleeping’ London Underground worker left one commuter ‘mad’ – but photo was actually taken before start of walkout

Photographer Phillippa Ellis reportedly said she captured the image on Tuesday evening, some four hours before the strikes began

It is the photograph of an apparently sleeping London Underground ticket office worker that nearly became the face uniting opposition to this week’s 48-hour Tube strikes.

But while millions of commuters were affected by the delays and disruption today, it has now emerged that any blame targeted at the woman sitting inside Paddington station would be a little misplaced.

Last night members of the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association (TSSA) walked out in protest against the closure of all underground ticket offices and the loss of 950 jobs.

And as concerns grew over the safety of a skeleton service trying to cater to large crowds still trying to get to work, the image sparked anger among social media users.

One Twitter user sent the photo to the RMT asking: “Is this what you are trying to protect?”

Another wrote: “TFL worker hard at work tonight at Paddington preparing for the strike. Not sure about you but if I passed out on my desk at work it would go down like a stack of bricks.”

Yet while the image only began circulating today in the heat of the fury against difficult conditions for commuters, the photographer has told the Huffington Post she took the image on Tuesday – some four hours ahead of the strike itself.

“It was right in rush hour,” said Phillippa Ellis. “My flash went off, but she did not stir. A TFL staff member said ‘No, no, no’ to me, but there was another guy who gave me a thumbs up.”

Ms Ellis said she had “no sympathy” for the fact many had assumed the woman was sleeping in the middle of the industrial action, but added: “I hope she doesn’t get fired.”

Today, London Underground’s operations director Nigel Holness said his staff were “working hard to keep customers safe” in spite of the strike.

He said: “As Londoners will have seen for themselves, we've had hundreds of volunteers out today to help customers get around. We'll have hundreds out during the evening peak as well.

“Some stations, particularly the main rail termini, will clearly be very busy because of this pointless strike by the RMT and TSSA, but our staff are working hard to keep customers safe, and keep London moving and open for business today. We're running over a third of normal services, serving around 70 per cent of stations on eight out of 11 lines.”

RMT leader Bob Crow told BBC London 94.9: “As we expected the action is rock solid this morning and has reduced the network to a skeleton service with only a few ghost trains running through closed stations.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson said: “We are doing all we can to try and get people to work. I recognise in some cases it is difficult, and I feel enormous sympathy for Londoners this morning, but the blame for this strike lies squarely with union leaders who have resorted to myths and stunts in a pathetic attempt to justify a strike that is utterly pointless

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Learning & Development Manager - North London - £53,000

£45000 - £53000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: Learning & Develo...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - Magazines

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's largest regional newspaper pub...

Ashdown Group: Content Manager - Publishing

£30000 - £35000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant - Oxford

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: As a successful and growing Security Installat...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn