By Frank Horn, ASLEF London Underground District Line
This dispute is not so much about the money basically as about the longstanding agreement we’ve had with London Underground that depots would be booked off for Boxing Day. There are four depots on the District Line, so once every 4 years we would get the day off. It’s the same on other lines.
It’s not as if they need the trains. Two years ago we had four trains at Wimbledon at 5am with one passenger on board. We would like to see Boxing Day working done by volunteers where we can. We have drivers that don’t celebrate Christmas or Boxing Day – they take other holiday days off.
The pay claim is because we need an incentive to work. We know they won’t agree to three times the usual pay for working on Boxing Day – we’re just setting the bar at a certain level. But it’s not true, as the papers make out, that the average driver could be on is £52,000 – that’s in 4 years and is the highest rate paid only to driver-instructors.
LUL has said it’s disgraceful that ASLEF balloted for a strike while we were still in negotiations, but as they well know there have been changes in the law on balloting which mean if we waited we wouldn’t be able to get agreement to strike before Boxing Day. They’re twisting our words, just taking one side of the argument.
It’s not so much about money. All they’re interested in is mileage – getting trains out. They want to run a Saturday service on Boxing Day when it used to be a Sunday service. But the argument you get in the papers about people wanting to shop in the Boxing Day sales is nonsense. Boxing Day sales aren’t a big deal – all the shops have sales right up to Christmas. When Boxing Day was a big shopping day, in fact, LUL ran a Sunday service – so why can’t they do that now?