Monday 26 December 2011

Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s very good place to start…..”

Before last year on Boxing Day we’d run a reduced service, roughly between a quarter and a third of staff would come in while the rest would have a day’s Annual Leave docked and be given the day off. The duty sheets would be prepared in advance and then the Mafias went to work, sorting out who wanted the day off and who didn’t mind coming in. Everyone was happy because it worked.

Last year LUL announced that due to demand they’d be running a Sunday schedule which would mean that more than double the number of TOps would be required to come in. Obviously we were less than happy with this, complaints were raised at branch meetings and ASLEF took up the issue.

ASLEF’s suggestion was to make working on Boxing Day voluntary and in order to “incentivise” (is that a real word?) the staff they suggested that LUL offer triple pay with an extra day off in lieu. It was an opening bid, open to negotiation but it’s been trolled out many times since then, when the media reported the imaginary Royal Wedding strike they claimed we were asking for that.

LUL replied that any Boxing Day that fell on the weekend was not a Bank Holiday and was a normal working day while any that fell on a weekday were covered by our existing agreement so there was nothing to talk about. ASLEF failed to agree and informed LUL that they’d be balloting us for strike action.

Hardly surprisingly the vote was overwhelmingly in favour, around half the 2200 or so members voted, 1025 for and 127 against, and ASLEF announced a 24 hour strike on Boxing Day. LUL attempted to get it stopped in the courts, the judge threw it out and a meeting at ACAS was arranged.

When it was too late LUL offered to go back to the reduced timetable, a concession of sorts that the full Sunday service had never been needed, but with most of the Admin staff already gone home for Christmas there wasn’t enough time to sort out who’d be working and who wouldn’t.

So the Boxing Day strike went ahead, as there were no picket lines to refuse to cross RMT came in and as they’d planned a Sunday service there were enough trains to deal with demand. And then nothing, despite repeated requests to sit down and discuss the issue LUL refused to talk.

Almost a year to the day after the first meeting LUL finally agreed to discuss the issue. Once again we suggested voluntary “incentivised” working and once again LUL said that things were just fine the way they are. As Boxing Day is on a Monday this year they’ve gone back to the old system with only a quarter of us coming in but we’d like to get things sorted out before 2015, the next time it falls on a Saturday.

Another ballot and as with last year around half the members voted with an almost identical outcome. This time LUL agreed to another meeting before going to the courts but once more there was no agreement and the judge rejected their case. LUL didn’t bother coming up with a last minute offer this time, it was Thursday afternoon and perhaps they’d planned to knock off early for Christmas.

Rather than striking on Boxing Day, which obviously wasn’t enough to “incentivise” LUL, ASLEF have planned three more strike days, one in January and two in February. In this blog I expressed a certain reticence to vote as I would be on holiday Boxing Day and it was even used as evidence to support LUL’s court case. As I will be on strike for one or two of the future dates I happily support the strike and am glad I voted in favour.

Publish that, Howard Collins, and be damned! Or better yet sit down with our Reps and get the bloody thing sorted out so we don't have to suffer a repeat of this pointless exercise in 2012, 2013 and 2014!

To those of you struggling into work today, my apologies but it takes two to make an argument and LUL started this by messing about with Boxing Day in 2010. To those of you who think we are being greedy and unreasonable to ask for triple pay and a day in lieu, no apology whatsoever, you are being unreasonably by believing that we actually expect to get that.

Not that I would ever choose triple pay and a day in lieu, I’d much rather let someone else take my place while I spend Boxing Day with my family, my friends and West Ham United. Money isn’t everything, it can’t buy you time and one thing that was brought home to me over the past 12 months is that we have a finite amount.

To absent friends.


  1. Thank you very much for your explanation, I get it now..I think. ASLEF are organising strikes beause they want an incentive to run a Sunday service instead of LU giving them zilch on Boxing Day when it falls on a weekend (next in 2015) right? You don't want an incentive under the system of 'come in if you want'?

    I think that's all very well and good. Or have I mis-read?

  2. Good explanation.
    However, I have reservations about your (& many others)reluctance to support action just because you didn't have a duty. Surely point is about last year, and the future, when Sat. service be in? Not just about you, but all of us?
    HCs last bulletin, trying to cajole drivers to work (hope he enjoyed 2nd BD working in a row!) with some 'factual inactitudes' gave clear hints that Xmas Day working just around corner. He refered to 'good old days'. Well, if I now have to work same weekends and BHs as in 1992, bring it on!

  3. Love your blog ! I read it regularly. If only my union (TSSA) was as good as RMT or ASLEF.