Union barred from taking strike action on Southern and Gatwick trains
Train drivers' union Aslef has lost a High Court fight over proposed industrial action on Southern and Gatwick services.
A judge has barred union bosses from inducing drivers employed by operating company Govia Thameslink Railway to take industrial action in the wake of a disagreement about the introduction of driver-only operated trains.
Mr Justice Supperstone said his injunction would last until a judge had fully analysed Govia's claims that Aslef had acted unlawfully at a trial.
The judge imposed the injunction on Thursday after analysing preliminary issues at a High Court hearing in London.
Aslef had objected to the introduction of trains without conductors on some services - complaining that they were less safe, the judge heard.
Bosses had balloted members - who had voted for industrial action - and Govia had taken legal action.
Company bosses claimed that Aslef had - in breach of rules - already called upon members to participate in industrial action.
They also said the union had wrongly balloted drivers who would not be asked to drive trains at the centre of the dispute.
However Aslef disputed Govia's claims.
But Mr Justice Supperstone ruled in Govia's favour. He said Govia had a "strong case".
The judge said if Govia was successful at any trial a damages award would not be enough to compensate the company for the harm caused by industrial action.
"I am satisfied that damages would not be an adequate remedy," he said.
"The balance of convenience falls in favour of granting an interim injunction."
Aslef had said the imposition of an injunction barring industrial action in the wake of a ballot would be "oppressive".
Mr Justice Supperstone rejected the union's complaint.
He said: "The potential disruption and inconvenience to the general public and damage likely to be caused by the industrial action significantly outweighs the suggested harm to the union."
The judge said a trial had been fixed to start on June 27.
A GTR spokesman said: "We are pleased that the court has agreed with us and granted an injunction against the Aslef ballot. This means that any industrial action the union was planning cannot now take place. This will come as a great relief to our passengers.
"Following this ruling, we now urge both RMT and Aslef to return to the negotiating table.
"We have been seeking proper negotiations on the various disputes for six months, and both Aslef and RMT have refused to engage in any sort of meaningful dialogue. Rather than continue these disputes, let's instead sit down and talk about this properly. That is what every passenger would want."