Govia Thameslink Railway today issued papers at the High Court to challenge an ASLEF ballot of Southern and Gatwick train drivers for industrial action. The ballot is in addition to the present ongoing dispute with the RMT which led to yesterday’s strike by Southern conductors.
The principal grounds for the injunction are that GTR believes that ASLEF has selected which drivers it has balloted in a way that breaches the strict rules on balloting, and that, because it induced drivers to refuse to drive trains in advance of conducting the ballot, it cannot now lawfully ask them to take industrial action.
GTR spokesperson commented:
“We only launch legal action reluctantly, but it is our responsibility to do everything we can to seek to protect our passengers against further industrial action.”
Following the application for an injunction, this matter is likely to be considered at a hearing at the High Court next week.
On 22 April, the company successfully secured an injunction to enable the introduction of 12 carriage Gatwick Express services. Since then, GTR has been introducing these services and intends to run 50% of weekday Gatwick Express trains with 12 carriages by the end of June.
A spokesperson for ASLEF has said:
“ASLEF is disappointed that GTR is taking legal action against our ballot of Southern and Gatwick Express drivers. We have yet to take any industrial action.
The result of the ballot is due on Monday 23 May following which ASLEF’s executive committee will determine the union’s next steps.”