Train drivers on some of the country's busiest rail routes are to stage a 24-hour strike just after Christmas in a row over Bank Holiday pay, it was announced today.
Aslef said hundreds of its members at Southern Railways will walk out on December 28 after accusing the firm of refusing to pay anything extra for drivers working on that day.
The union warned of massive disruption to Southern's services, which run from London to the South Coast as well as throughout other areas of the South East.
The union also announced it will strike on December 27 next year and on January 3 in 2011 unless the dispute is resolved.
Southern said it was "extremely disappointed" at the strike plans, adding in a statement: "Southern continues to work hard to avoid what would be an extremely disruptive strike for our passengers.
"Aslef has chosen industrial action over negotiation in a dispute over Christmas working arrangements. We appeal to them to come back to the table and help find a solution for the sake of our staff and our passengers.
"The union's action is particularly frustrating as we are complying fully with the well-established terms and conditions agreed with the union. These terms ensure that everyone gets two Bank Holidays over Christmas, in line with the norm for the vast majority of UK workers.
"For train crew, whose working week runs from Monday to Saturday, these two days will be December 25 and 26. Aslef, however, is demanding Monday, December 28, to be treated as a third Bank Holiday for their members in order to attract increased rates of pay.
"We will continue to strive for a reasonable solution to ensure our passengers are not inconvenienced and our staff are not put in the position of having to choose conflict over customer service."
The Rail Maritime and Transport union is balloting its members on Southern for industrial action over the same issue.