London Tube drivers to strike over public holiday pay

14th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Drivers on the London Tube will strike on December 26 in a row over pay at the start of the post-Christmas sales, a union said Wednesday, in a move business chiefs warned could hit ailing retailers.

Train drivers union ASLEF said its members had voted overwhelmingly to walk out on Boxing Day, and on three more dates in the coming weeks.

The action was prompted by a refusal to pay drivers on the London Underground train network extra for working on Boxing Day, a public holiday, said the union.

"The company is currently offering no additional payments for working on Boxing Day," said a union statement.

ASLEF said it balloted 2,200 drivers on the Underground network, known as the Tube, and they returned a 92.3 percent vote in favour of action. They also voted to walk out on January 16, and February 3 and 13.

Tube drivers have already staged a series of strikes. They walked out on Boxing Day last year, crippling the Underground but failing to deter shoppers who flocked to the traditional sales.

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry accused the union of holding the British capital and its businesses "to ransom through yet more Tube strikes".

"Retailers have already had one of their toughest years with recent sales figures showing a decline year-on-year fuelled by poor consumer confidence, rising unemployment and mild weather", said the body's chief executive, Colin Stanbridge.

"The last thing they need now is disruption on Boxing Day, one of their most important trading dates."

Train operator London Underground also attacked the union, saying it had made an "outrageous" demand for triple pay and an extra day off for working Boxing Day which went against existing agreements.

"It is disgraceful for the ASLEF leadership to threaten strike action while we are engaged in continuing discussions on this issue," said chief operating officer Howard Collins.

© 2011 AFP

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