London Underground are seeking an injunction against what they believe to be a "completely unnecessary" strike. In 1996 drivers union ASLEF signed an agreement that it would consider Boxing Day a normal working day in return for longer holidays and higher pay.
However, the union has said increased Tube services on bank holidays meant drivers now have to work more Bank holidays than when the agreement was originally signed. ASLEF are due to stage a 24-hour walkout on 26th December 2010 and are claiming triple pay and a day off in lieu for working on Boxing Day.
A TfL spokesman said: "The union has ripped up a long-standing agreement on pay and working hours that gave LU employees increased pay and 6.8 weeks' holiday, in return for working some public holidays. We have tried to resolve this through negotiation, but our offer to reduce the number of drivers rostered to work on Boxing day was flatly rejected.
"This left us no option but to seek a legal solution."
An ASLEF spokesman said: "We are disappointed that, instead of trying to resolve the dispute, LU is taking the legal route.
"But nowadays it seems par for the course to go to the courts rather than sit round the table."
In the meantime Howard Collins Chief Operating Officer at London Underground has written to ASLEF members urging them not to strike. He said "ASLEF clearly did not want to make any concession on its triple pay claim and it did not seriously consider our proposal to amend our service plans.
"The increase in service we plan for this year's Boxing Day is in direct response to the doubling of demand for service that we have seen in recent years. Furthermore, if we were still running the levels of train service we were running 15 years ago we would not have created additional jobs for train operators. The more service we run, and the more customers we serve, the better - not just for our customers but for our employees.
In addition, rumours about Christmas Day working are simply wrong - there is no plan to do this, and if - in the future - any such long-term proposals did emerge, they would be a matter for discussion with trades unions representatives well ahead of any changes.
Please consider whether going on strike will achieve anything, other than loss of pay and damage to our commitment to this city. The proper route to a resolution of this issue is through discussions within our established framework - not through the threat of strike action."
Whether there's time for the last minute legal challenge to stop the strike obviously remains to be seen. London Underground last went to court in June to try to stop an RMT walkout. However the High Court ruled that the strike could take place.