It is a "bare-faced lie" to claim mass strikes over the Christmas period have been co-ordinated, according to a trade union boss.

Aslef chief Mick Whelan also told IBTimes UK that he was "hopeful" that the Southern rail dispute could eventually be resolved.

"I'm always hopeful. I believe in a better world where people agree and find a safe way forward," he said.

"But the reality is we shouldn't be intimidated out of the process, either by the media, either by the government, if we truly believe in the values we are espousing."

Whelan added: "We spend our whole lives seeking to support other workers, seeking to support people who want to travel.

"We don't want to be in this position, we don't want to put them in this position, but us not doing the right thing won't assist them in the long-term."

The long-running row over the future role of rail guards on the network saw around 300,000 commuters stranded when drivers represented by Aslef and conductors represented by sister union the RMT walked out for 24 hours on 13 December and again on 16 December.

The unions and Southern operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) had held peace talks at mitigation service Acas on Thursday. But the parties failed to broker a resolution to the dispute.

Whelan blames Southern for taking his union to the High Court for the timing of their latest action.

"Let's make no bones about it, we balloted for action in April last year, the company, backed by the Department for Transport, have continued to take us to the High Court. We've been at the High Court at four occasions," he said.

Aslef fact-file

  • Union is seen as more 'moderate' than the RMT.
  • It is affiliated with Labour.
  • Donated £10,000 to Jeremy Corbyn's re-election campaign.
  • Has more than 21,000 members.
  • Whelan was paid £128,000 in total remuneration in 2015 .

RMT conductors are striking for another 24 hours on Monday, while Aslef's next all-out walkout is planned from 9 January to 17 January.

But Angie Doll, passenger services director for Southern, said: "We are providing the best possible service for passengers on Monday and Tuesday, but the continued Aslef overtime ban is making this even more challenging. We know this is a busy time for passengers, and we are truly sorry that this damaging industrial action is making life even harder."

Whelan, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, also said it was "untrue" his unions' strikes were politically motivated after footage of RMT President Sean Hoyle emerged over the weekend.

The trade union boss apparently said the strikes were designed to bring down the Conservative government, The Sunday Times reported.

The comments come as thousands of Post Office workers strike, baggage handlers across the UK threaten to walkout and British Airways cabin plan to strike across the festive period.

Theresa May is the latest top politician to intervene in the row. A spokesperson for the prime minister told the reporters that the unions had "shared contempt for ordinary people going about their daily lives".