Southern Railway and Gatwick Express strike suspended over legal challenge

ASLEF union suspends strike action after being issued with legal challenge

Lawyers for Govia Thameslink Railway raised the issue of drivers' legal place of work

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The train drivers' union has suspended a strike ballot at the country's biggest rail franchise after facing a legal challenge on which door its members used at a busy depot.

ASLEF was balloting drivers at Southern Railway and the Gatwick Express service - owned by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - over claims of a breakdown in industrial relations. It's believed members had backed strikes by 4-1 before the ballot was suspended as the union was facing a legal challenge.

The lawsuit is said to have originated after GTR lawyers reportedly studied the ballot with the "finest of toothcombs" and discovered that some drivers work for engineering and others for the main line, using different doors, in Brighton. 

It is understood the company lawyers raised the issue of drivers' legal place of work.

ASLEF has not addressed the challenge, but a Southern spokesman said: "We welcome the decision by Aslef to suspend their ballot notice over a 'breakdown in industrial relations' and that it will not take any further action in relation to the ballot notice, or the ballot. We are continuing to work with Aslef to address their concerns that led to the dispute."

Southern faces strikes next week in separate disputes over ticket office closures and the long-running row over the role of conductors.