Monday 5 November 2018 1:23 pm

Train union threatens Christmas ‘shutdown’ as commuters gear up for Central and Piccadilly Line strike on Wednesday

Train driver union Aslef has threatened a widespread Christmas "shutdown" amid its ongoing industrial spat with Transport for London (TfL).

Aslef said its executive committee will discuss resolutions from branches on the Northern and Hammersmith & City and Lines who have asked to be balloted for action. 

"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," said Aslef organiser on the Underground Finn Brennan.

"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."

The threat of further action comes as hundreds of thousands of commuters brace themselves for travel chaos on Wednesday, when Aslef strikes on the Central Line and the RMT union strikes on the Central and Piccadilly Lines.

Brennan said: "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 [reconciliation service] 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."

Nigel Holness, director of network operations for 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."