A STRIKE by ASLEF drivers on the District Line of London Underground was mostly disrupting trains in east London on Friday morning, with only 'minor delays' reported on the other District Line routes. The strike is in protest at the treatment of a new driver who has been moved to another job for alleged safety breaches, but talks between the two sides are said to have broken down following a meeting at the end of January.
TfL said the driver concerned had been involved in three separate safety incidents in 11 weeks, and that these incidents were followed by a ‘mutual decision’ that the driver should return to a previous job on a station. TfL also said the driver had not been disciplined, but had agreed to the move which was proposed ‘as part of the safety processes agreed with trade unions’.
London Underground’s director of network operations Nigel Holness said: "The safety of our customers and our staff is our top priority. In this case, a driver was offered an alternative role on our stations following a number of safety incidents. With so many incidents in a short space of time, despite several weeks of training and assistance, it was simply not safe for this employee to continue as a driver.
"The situation is not as the union has described as no disciplinary action has been taken against the employee and our action is in line with the safety policies agreed with our trade unions.”
However, ASLEF has accused LUL of not following agreed procedures, and also of refusing to discuss the matter for more than two months. The last meeting, said the union, had been on 30 January.
ASLEF organiser on the Underground Finn Brennan said: ‘We have repeatedly offered to meet to discuss this dispute but, instead of getting around the table, they have sent a stream of letters threatening legal action to try to prevent our members from exercising their democratic right to strike.
“When management are intent on getting their way by threats and intimidation then we need to take a strong stand to protect our agreements and ensure fair treatment at work.”