An argument over bank holiday pay between unions and London Underground has resulted in members of Aslef voting in favour of a series of strikes, including industrial action on Boxing Day. Other walkouts will take place on 16 January, 3 February and 13 February. The decision to strike on Boxing Day is bad news for central London retailers struggling to cope with the current slump in consumer confidence.

Last week it was revealed that customer spending was down by 10 per cent on the same period a year earlier, with many outlets hoping to draw people back at the beginning of the traditional sales period.

The Aslef union is demanding that its members are given triple pay, as well as a day off, as an incentive to volunteer to work on Boxing Day. A request which London Underground bosses have called outrageous.

Around 2,200 Tube drivers are members of the union. Of those who turned out for the ballot, an overwhelming 92 per cent said that they would support the industrial action. Howard Collins, chief operating officer for London Underground, said it was disgraceful that Aslef should commit to such disruption at a time when discussions over incentives were still ongoing. He urged the union to return to the negotiating table, adding that strikes would achieve nothing.

Aslef claims that the dispute is about getting its members a decent level of incentivisation to persuade them to give up time off in order to operate trains. A Tube driver’s basic salary currently stands at £45,545.