Tube Drivers to Strike on Boxing Day

More money wanted for staff to work on Bank Holiday

Members of the Aslef trade union working in London Underground have voted to take action on Boxing Day. The dispute concerns the union’s demand that the day must be covered by volunteers.

The union balloted its 2,200 Underground drivers who make up the majority of the 3,200 drivers on the network. They are demanding triple pay and a day in lieu for working on Boxing Day.

London Underground say they have reduced staffing requirements for Boxing Day so that fewer drivers will be required to work.

The wider dispute concerns a 1996 agreement which gave drivers a pay rise in return for changes to working conditions which include working some bank holidays.

Train drivers, who currently earn a basic salary of £45,545 have just won a four-year pay deal that will put them on £52,000 basic pay by 2015, and they will also receive up to £1,200 extra for working during the Olympic Games.

Howard Collins, LU's Chief Operating Officer, said: 'It is disgraceful for the Aslef leadership to threaten strike action while we are engaged in continuing discussions on this issue. The threat of strike action will not achieve anything and I urge Aslef to join us in our commitment to resolve this matter through discussions.

LU has a long-standing agreement with all of its trade unions which cover staff working arrangements on bank holidays, and Boxing Day is included in that agreement. However, we have shown good faith in reviewing Boxing Day services so that staffing requirements are lower than when Aslef raised this matter last year, and Aslef should do the same."

If the strike goes ahead, it will be a repeat of last year, when Aslef drivers walked out after the failure of a High Court bid by London Underground prevent it. If the dispute is not resolved, the union intends to take further action on 16 January and 3 and 13 February.

Business leaders have condemned Aslef's action, with Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, urging it to withdraw the threat and  Baroness Valentine, chief executive of London First, accusing it of holding London to ransom and saying: "The retail trade is still suffering badly and will be counting on the traditional uplift from Boxing Day."

The RMT union is not involved in the dispute, but members could refuse to cross Aslef picket lines.

December 15, 2011