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Network Rail challenges strike ballot in High Court

Network Rail will this afternoon seek an injunction at the High Court to prevent a national rail strike, on the basis that the signallers’ ballot was invalid.

The company said it has uncovered a number of inaccuracies and deficiencies with the signallers’ ballot. RMT has said it will be “robustly defending” its position.

RMT had “manifestly failed to comply with the requirements of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act of 1992”, said Network Rail.

“We have uncovered scores of inaccuracies and discrepancies in the RMT’s signallers ballot that in our view makes it invalid.”

Robin Gisby, Network Rail

The signallers’ vote for strike action was close, with the “yes” result balancing on just 112 of the 4,556 balloted. Network Rail said the inaccuracies and discrepancies it had uncovered could impact upon almost 300 votes or potential votes

Network Rail director of operations and customer services Robin Gisby said: “We believe we have uncovered scores of inaccuracies and discrepancies in the RMT’s signallers ballot that in our view makes it invalid. 

“We want to find a negotiated settlement to this dispute and talks continue but we have a responsibility to the entire country to head off this strike and let people enjoy their Easter break.”

The alleged inaccuracies identified by Network Rail include:

  • 11 signal boxes being balloted by the RMT that do not exist. Most have been closed for years, such as Chalford signal box near Gloucester which closed in 1965/6, and East Usk signal box in Newport which burnt down in April 2009.
  • 67 locations have been balloted where the numbers of RMT members exceeds the total number of employees that work there. For example, there are three employees at South Tottenham yet the RMT asked 11 members to vote. There are 24 employees at Crewe yet the RMT invited 33 members to vote.
  • 26 workplaces (such as Rugby signal box) amounting to almost 100 employees, being completely missed thereby giving RMT members at these locations no opportunity to vote.
  • 12 locations being balloted where there are no operations staff at all.

RMT and the Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) are planning strikes from April 6 to 9 over pay and work changes.

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