Over 2,000 ASLEF members employed by London Underground could be set to join RMT members on the picket lines as the union begins a strike ballot.
Half of LU's drivers are ASLEF members, and joint action would threaten a complete shutdown of the tube network - a marked difference from the strikes of RMT station staff on the 1 and 9 January.
The ASLEF press release stated:
The 2,200 ASLEF members employed by London Underground will be balloted for industrial action later this month after a 'serious breakdown in industrial relations and trust'.
The union accuses the company of ignoring agreements, imposing change without negotiation and inflicting excessive and draconian punishments.
The union's National Organiser Andy Reed says industrial relations vary from hostility to anarchy. 'To operate in a civilized industrial climate we need to respect agreements in place and, where appropriate, discuss and agree change.
'LUL do neither. This is why the only alternative is seek a mandate for industrial action.' The union will be recommending a series of 24 hour non-continuous strikes. Ballot papers will be issued in due course.
Andy Reed says LUL ignores its workforce, the public - and even the Mayor. 'Ken Livingstone wrote to the union in November 2002 promising a review of London Underground Limited's harassment procedure. In over two years, LUL has failed to progress this.
'Individual tube lines operate different policies on a range of issues. Discipline appeals appear to be pointless exercises rather than serious re-considerations. Representative are not allowed time off for union duties. Transfer agreements are regularly ignored.
'We cannot allow this position to continue.'
The Executive authorised the ballot because of failure to resolve issues around 'harassment, discipline, attendance, negotiations and health and safety'.
Andy Reed concludes, 'This list demonstrates the breadth of differences between the union and management. I would say it is highly unlikely that they will be resolved before 9 February.'