ASLEF: Central line strike

07 November 2018


Finn Brennan, ASLEF’s organiser on London Underground, says: ‘Train drivers on the Central line will refuse to book on for duties booking on between 00:01 and 23:59 on Wednesday 7 November as our fight for fair treatment at work continues.  In the four weeks since our solid strike on 5 October management have made no new proposals and no further talks have been arranged.

‘ASLEF have kept in contact with ACAS and made it clear that we are ready to discuss the issues in dispute at any time, but senior management seem to hope that our members will simply give up if they refuse to budge. Today they will find out just how wrong they are!

‘Management’s pig-headed intransigence will mean major disruption on the Underground. But the issues underlying this dispute, fair treatment at work and complying with agreements, aren’t just confined to a couple of areas. The ASLEF executive committee is to discuss resolutions from our branches on the Hammersmith & City and Northern lines asking to be balloted for action with other branches set to follow.

‘Unless there is a rapid change of approach from management, working inside existing agreements instead of trying to circumvent or “reinterpret” them, then the likelihood is there will be a combine wide shutdown in the run up to Christmas.

‘Senior figures at TfL need to realise just how serious the industrial relations problems on London Underground have become and start to deal with them. ASLEF does not want to be in a position where we are faced with dispute after dispute. We don’t want to see passenger journeys disrupted and our members having to lose money.

‘But we will not back down in the face of a management that refuses to deal with the issues our members raise and treats staff as if they were pieces of machinery.’

London Underground issued this statement which is, at best, disingenuous and, at worst, a farrago of obfuscations and lies:

Nigel Holness, Managing Director of London Underground, said: “The strike action called by Aslef on 7 November is totally unjustifiable. The union is demanding the reinstatement of a Central line driver sacked over a serious safety breach after deliberately opening the doors of a train in a tunnel. We always strive to run a reliable service for our customers but our commitment to the safety of both customers and staff is absolute and something we will never compromise on. I urge Aslef to call off this entirely unnecessary strike action which will only cause disruption to our customers.”

Further information

  • Aslef has described this dispute as a general breakdown in industrial relations, when in reality it concerns one dismissal case
  • The driver deliberately overrode safety protocols on a train while in customer service in order to open the doors of the train in a tunnel and subsequently failed to report the incident properly
  • The driver has since failed in an appeal against the decision
  • This case was a serious breaches of safety which endangered the lives of customers
  • We have invited Aslef to discussions at ACAS a number of times in recent weeks. They have not accepted those invitations.

To which Finn responded:

‘Our member made a mistake while dealing with a problem caused by a defective train. While he did not carry out the correct procedure, he used his 25 years of experience to ensure no passengers were endangered during the incident. He accepted that he was wrong not to correctly apply the procedure and took full responsibility for his mistake. He was summarily dismissed, despite a quarter century of  dedicated professional service.

‘Our members contrast this to the treatment of those who blew a massive hole in the TfL budget with the delays to the SSR (Sub Surface Lines) and Crossrail projects. They see senior managers who screw up walk away with massive payouts, while frontline staff who make mistakes are throw away like broken toys.

‘Unless senior figures at TfL are prepared to change the culture at London Underground and start to treat staff with fairness and respect, then it is inevitable that strikes and disruption will continue.

‘ASLEF have repeatedly made it clear that we are available for talks with management, at ACAS or in any other forum. But London Underground have made no new proposals and seem completely uninterested in solving this dispute.’


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