Network Rail in High Court bid to halt strike

Network Rail has applied to the High Court for an injunction against strike action by rail workers proceeding next week.

The Rail and Maritime Transport (RMT) union is to hold a 24-hour strike on Tuesday June 29 and Wednesday June 30, over a failure to reach agreement on pensions.

In a statement, Network Rail said it had decided to "act in the interests of passengers to prevent damaging strike action and ensure trains keep running".

The Chief Executive of Network Rail, John Armitt, said: “We will do whatever we can to prevent passengers and freight customers from suffering the consequences of this unnecessary and potentially damaging strike action. We have a duty to keep trains running, building on recent performance improvements, and are now in a position where we have to challenge the ballot in the High Court.

“We believe we have a very good case, as the information provided to us by the RMT has clearly been inaccurate and deficient. This has always been a possibility but with little time remaining to reach a negotiated settlement we believe the time has come for decisive action to protect the travelling public.”

Network Rail is attempting to get five ballots held by the RMT overturned - the main ballot of 4,700 signalling and operations employees and four separate maintenance areas accounting for a further 3,100.

An injunction will be sought under the Trade Unions and Labour Relations Consolidation Act 1992, with Network Rail contending that almost 1,000 RMT members the union who were balloted were listed at locations that either no longer existed or were ‘unknown’. Network Rail also claims that the RMT's ballot list included personnel who did not work for Network Rail and that they were not advised in a reasonable timescale of the results of the ballot.

Earlier this week the RMT said that 7,500 RMT members at Network Rail were to take industrial action on Wednesday June 30 after the company's "refusal to negotiate on pensions".

Yesterday, RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said: "Our ballot for industrial action may have brought Network Rail to the negotiating table, but on pensions they have simply sat there with their arms folded."

The RMT claims its members at Network Rail had voted by 2,947, (58%) to 2,246 (42%) in favour of industrial action and would not be "intimidated" by Network Rail.

A High Court judge is expected to hear legal arguments from the two sides in the next three days.


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