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Train travellers face industrial action after landmark legal ruling

Appeal Court judges yesterday ruled to overturn injunctions preventing strikes on the Docklands Light Railway and London Midland.

The two rulings are expected to expose commuters to a massive wave of strikes in protest at pay, conditions and government cuts as courts will not be able to block industrial action using legal technicalities. The decisions are expected to trigger strikes in other sectors as well as on the railways.

Union bosses state the dramatic rulings have opened the door for millions of trade union members across all sectors to state their feelings over government cuts to services and jobs by voting fro strike action. RMT head Bob Crow hailed the court’s decisions as a ‘landmark victory’, both for staff on the Docklands Light railway and for the union’s 80,000 members.

Mr Crow added public service unions will now be able to call for industrial action without it being blocked for ‘the tiniest discrepancy’. Recently, legal teams acting on the part of employers have become increasingly adept in finding technical breaches of strike laws and using them to prevent industrial action through injunctions.

The Appeal Court’s decision, handed down by Lord Justices Elias, Mummery and Etherton, set a precedent in law by allowing the Docklands Light railway strike. The

judgement overturned a previous ruling disallowing strike action on the grounds that staff job titles were not included on the union’s ballot papers.

RMT members voted to strike over failure of management to consult with union representative and workers over redundancies, pension plan changes and the sacking of two workers. Of the 410 workers, less than 50 per cent voted, but 162 out the 175 who took part were in favour of strike action. The union’s court costs of £100,000 must now be reimbursed by the rail company.

On the London Midland decision, Aslef general secretary Keith Norman hailed it as a ‘major step forward for industrial freedom’, but TfL have declined to comment.

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