Rail strike is OFF – High court grants injunction to Network Rail

Next week’s rail strike, planned to run from Tuesday 6th April to Friday 9th April has been called off after Mrs Justice Sharp granted Network Rail an injunction at the High Court today.

The strike, which would have seen signallers across the network walking out, threatened to cripple the whole of the UK railway network.

This is the second time in only a few months that the High Court has blocked a major transport strike by overturning a strike ballot.

Shortly before Christmas the High Court blocked a 12 day walkout by British Airways cabin crew over the festive season.

In the High Court today, Charles Bear, QC, for Network Rail claimed the stoppage was unlawful dues to ballot irregularities and said the four-day rush hour strike would cause "immense damage to the economy."

Charles Bear said there were serious inaccuracies in the RMT ballot, in which 54 per cent of signallers polled backed the strike.

He told the court that Network Rail had found flaws in 143 of the 828 workplaces identified by the union, including 23 signal boxes which had not been balloted, while 11 of those which had been balloted no longer existed.

In 67 signal boxes the ballot had been extended to more people than employed at the time by Network Rail.

He said the majority in favour of a strike was 224, while up to 245 votes were incorrect. It could not be argued that inaccuracies on such a scale were unlikely to affect the result.

Defending, Frederic Reynold, QC, for the Rail Maritime and Transport Union (RMT), said the union had gone to considerable lengths to ensure the accuracy of its database.

"Having faced difficulties with ballots in the past, RMT took particular care to make sure that there would be no problems with signallers’ vote."

Speaking after the judgment, Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT, said: "This judgment is an attack on the whole trade union movement and twists the anti-union laws even further in favour of the bosses."

Robin Gisby, head of operations at Network Rail, said: "The signallers’ strike is off and train services next week will run as normal. This is good news for the millions of passengers who rely on us every day, for our freight users and for the country."

Both sides said they would continue negotiations to find a settlement to the signallers’ dispute.

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