Tube driver Boxing Day strike talks hit the buffers

10:15 13 November 2012

TfL

Union leaders have accused Transport for London of sabotaging a planned settlement over Boxing Day working hours for Tube drivers.

TfL today went public with its offers to Aslef to prevent a repeat of last year’s 24-hour walkout, which caused misery for travellers over the festive period.

The options include drivers volunteering to work on Boxing Day and swapping one day’s leave for pay, or remaining on annual leave on Boxing Day, provided enough drivers volunteer to come in.

The third offer is continuing with the current arrangement, which sees drivers working on Boxing Day and taking annual leave on another day.

But Steve Grant, district organiser at Aslef, said the union has rejected this offer and added these options were not part of their discussions with TfL.

He said: “I have instructed our solicitors to give London Underground seven days notice of a ballot and will be informing our members to prepare for a day off with their families.

“I believed that we were having constructive talks and were close to reaching a settlement. We were discussing additional payments like we do for New Year.

“These talks have been sabotaged by them choosing to put out this particular offer out to all parties in public.”

Mr Grant claimed the TfL offers also include increasing the level of service for those who opt to work on Boxing Day and said his members would be “compelled” to come in, despite it being presented as voluntary.

If the strike goes ahead, it would be the third time in three years commuters have been forced to put up with the disruption.

“We are always the bad boys anyway, we know that,” Mr Smith said. “But we have tried to get a settlement and this year we were closer than ever.”

Howard Collins, London Underground’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “We have been in discussions with the Aslef leadership to find a way to end this dispute and have made them what we believe is a very fair offer.

“LU has a long-standing agreement with all trade unions which cover working arrangements on bank holidays, including Boxing Day. “However, we have shown good faith and tried to find ways forward.

“Last year we reviewed the level of service of required for Boxing Day to closely match customer demand.

“This year we have offered to roster staff on leave and operate the service with staff who volunteer to work on Boxing Day thereby offering staff greater flexibility when it comes to their leave over the Christmas period.”

The result of the ballot will be made public on December 17.

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