High Court allows Aslef Southern strikes to go ahead
The High Court has ruled that Aslef train drivers’ strikes on Southern Rail can go ahead from next week, after Govia Thameslink Railway’s (GTR’s) legal challenge failed.
GTR, the operator of the Southern franchise, had sought an injunction to stop industrial action by Aslef members, who voted to strike due to a longstanding row over driver-only operated (DOO) trains.
The company argued that the proposed strikes, combined with those by RMT, would bring all Southern services to a grinding halt and breach customers' rights to travel freely around the EU due to disruption to its Gatwick Airport services.
It may now appeal against the High Court’s decision.
Charles Horton, chief executive of GTR, had said that the TOC was forced to take legal action against Aslef after it refused to co-operate with the company and re-enter discussions.
“Passengers now face the prospect of 40 days of continuous industrial action by Aslef, and, on top of months of travel misery they've already suffered, it is totally unacceptable,” he argued.
Aslef’s lawyer successfully argued in court that the case concerned the union’s “fundamental right to pursue its industrial action”. It will now launch three days of action next week, along with a 24-hour walkout on 16 December and a week-long strike due in the New Year.
The union’s general secretary Mick Whelan said in response to the result: “Once again, we see that GTR/Southern is a company desperate to seek to prevent the voice of their put-upon employees being heard.”
Earlier this month, the government announced that over 84,000 Southern season ticket holders will be offered compensation equivalent to one month’s free travel in an attempt to appease passengers who have dealt with months of disruption.
Strikes and other related problems on Southern’s lines will cost GTR around £38m this year, according to the operator’s estimates.
A Southern spokesperson said that the company was “disappointed” with today's decision and will now review matters with its legal team.