Could the High Court step in to stop Eastbourne facing strike action from train drivers?
Govia Thameslink Railway, parent company of Southern Railway, has issued proceedings at the High Court to seek an injunction to stop Aslef’s industrial action.
The union is planning drivers’ strikes for the run-up to Christmas, with a 48-hour strike on 13-14 December and a 24-hour strike on 16 December – as well as a week-long walkout in the New Year (9-14 January). It will also begin a continuous overtime ban beginning next Tuesday (6 December).
The train operator has lodged a court application citing its belief the union's industrial action breaches customers' rights under EU law.
In a statement, Charles Horton, Chief Executive of GTR, said, “We launch legal action reluctantly but now without any other choice. Obviously, we would prefer to resolve this directly with Aslef. We asked the union to withdraw the industrial action and to re-enter discussions but they refused to do so, which means that we now have no choice but to go to court.
“We have a responsibility to our customers to do all we can to protect their interests and maintain services for them. 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. The proposed industrial action called by Aslef is unjustified, unnecessary and we believe unlawful. It will severely disrupt all our customers, including the tens of thousands of customers a day who use our services for travelling to and from Gatwick Airport. We believe that the industrial action breaches our and our customers’ rights under EU law and so we are seeking an injunction to stop the industrial action.
“It’s perfectly safe for the driver to have sole responsibility for the operation of a modern train, and that's how a third of the trains up and down the country - with the full agreement and support of Aslef - already operate today.”
Following the application to the High Court, this matter is likely to be considered at a hearing in the coming days.
Until the legal action is concluded GTR will make no further comment.