Boxing Day dispute at London Underground

10 November 2010

‘London Underground are refusing to concede that our members should receive additional payments for working on Boxing Day,’ reports Terry Wilkinson, the EC member for District 8. ‘To claim that Boxing Day is ‘an ordinary working day’ is an almost unbelievable denial of an obvious fact. ‘They are living on another planet if they think ASLEF members will accept this piece of fiction.’

The union has argued the case for additional payments for working on 26 December at both Trains Council and Directors Level but without success. The union’s Annual Assembly of Delegates (AAD) fully supported the case when it debated it earlier in the year – and it is not something ASLEF will concede.

When District Organiser Steve Grant gave a report to last month’s EC meeting, they immediately resolved to ballot train grade members on London Underground for industrial action on 26 December unless suitable compensation is agreed.

‘As well as insulting our intelligence by the bizarre claim that Boxing Day is nothing special, London Underground has unilaterally torn up existing agreements,’ Terry says. These include accords on the District Line and Metropolitan Lines where depots had previously taken it in rotation to cover the service, and an agreements on the Hammersmith and City line where a very limited service ran on a Boxing Day which compensated staff who all work on August Bank Holiday to cover the Notting Hill carnival. Management are saying these no longer exist!

Management are insisting that the only train staff who will not be required to work on Boxing Day this year are those on rest day or who have booked Annual leave.

‘This is not something we can accept,’ Terry insists. ‘It’s not just Boxing Day – it also has repercussions for all Bank Holidays. It used to be almost guaranteed that if you worked one bank holiday, you would not work the next. But the increase in service levels has meant this is now no longer possible. It needs addressing – but not like this!.

‘We are not opposed to additional services for customers. Why should we be? They help to make our employment more secure. But, like the AAD, we believe that there are times when staff need to be appropriately compensated for working at highly unsocial times – and that includes Boxing Day.’

The union points out that despite the company claiming it’s just a normal day, they are accepting advertising by large London stores who are having Boxing Day sales. ‘So the customers we’d be carrying will (unlike us!) be getting rewarded with big discounts on the goods they bring back,’ Terry says.

‘If they get away with this, next year they’ll be telling us Christmas Day is a normal day as well!’

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